Today we had our first sightseeing tour after flying across the world to get here! We began in Tian’anmen Square, the world’s largest public square and definitely a sight to see. Entering the square, you’re greeted by Soviet-style architecture then an obelisk and two huge LED screens that were created for the Olympics and show beautiful images of China’s big landmarks. Then, you reach the Gate of Heavenly Peace, a massive red structure donned with Mao’s portrait. It was here that Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
Then we walked toward the Forbidden City, the largest palace complex in the world. I didn’t quite realize what that distinction meant until we walked all the way through.
Just when you think you’ve reached the end, there’s more things to see—I loved encountering every detail. The complex was once home to 24 emperors of the Ming and Quing dynasties.
As we continued through the complex, we walked through huge red doors with rows of nine knobs. I noticed locals were touching the knobs and asked our Tour Director what the significance was and he said that nine is a lucky number in Chinese culture. So I touched them too—why not get some extra good luck?
After our walking tour we were ready for some lunch! We went to a restaurant that only served vegetarian Chinese food, but interestingly enough a lot of the food resembled and tasted like meat and fish. They used veggies and tofu to make meatballs, battered fish and sausage. I was a little skeptical at first, but it was all really tasty! We sat around a table with a huge lazy susan, spun it around, and shared our first meal as a group.
Read more about Christine’s adventures through China by following along on her live blog page.