Beijing- The Forbidden City and Imperial Garden

It was a chilling -2 degrees Celsius (and windy!) and I was visiting the Forbidden City and Imperial Garden.  The Forbidden City is >150 acres.  It was built from 1404-1420 and housed up to 3000 concubines, the Emperor and Empress and the Imperial Guard.

Everything about the complex followed the principles of Feng Shui.  For instance, the Forbidden City had mountains protecting the entrances.  The entrances were facing a certain direction that is evading me right now.  The main thing I remember is the dragon outside the door of the Emperor’s living quarters.  The Chinese dragon is different than the Western dragon that breathes fire.  The Eastern dragon has horns and water comes out of its mouth.  It never goes to the bathroom.  The significance there is that whatever enters the dragon doesn’t leave it.  So at an entryway of a home, the dragon should be facing the entry.  It will bring money and prosperity into the household (through its mouth–and the money will never leave since it doesn’t use the washroom).  If the dragon’s back is to the door, then the household will squander monies and good fortune instead of collecting them.

DSC_0102 forbidden city
male dragon

Another significance of the dragon, is the dragon stepping on a ball (it’s a pearl which designates power) represents the Emperor and the dragon stepping on the cub represents the Empress.

The male is the yang and the female is the yin.  Yin and Yang are very important aspects of Chinese culture and required for balance.  They are displayed throughout the Forbidden City.  I couldn’t retain all that was shared, but our tour guide was very informative.

I again used Viator for my tour of The Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven ,The Great Wall of China and Summer Palace.  It included a pick-up at my hotel and lunch.  There were four of us on this tour–a brother and sister from South America and young lady from Switzerland.  Between them, the oldest was 24.  I’ll explain in a bit how I knew their ages.

We arrived at the Forbidden City right when they were opening at 8:30a.  So we didn’t wait long in the line nor was the line very long.  It was frigid.

Here’s a picture the tour guide took of me before we entered.

IMG_20171213_080737 forbidden city
I’m wearing so many layers (leg warmers too if you can’t tell!). The only things cold were my nose and hands….my gloves weren’t wind proof

And the Imperial Garden:

There were trees in the garden with either red or green tags.  Red tags meant the tree was over 300 yrs old.  Green tags meant they were over 100 yrs old.

After the Forbidden City, we drove to the Temple of Heaven.  I’ll discuss that in a separate post.  We also stopped at a facility where they were practicing acupuncture, cupping and holistic healing.   We received an assessment on our health and a foot massage.  This is how I knew the ages of my fellow tour-goers, by the way.

The trained Herbalist looked at my tongue and used my pulse on my wrist to give his assessment.  He said that I don’t sleep well.  He said my mind never turns off and I’m stressed out.  This could really fit anyone but, I hardly slept the night before.  He wrote me a prescription for herbs to aid in sleeping but it was 800rmb for a 30 day supply.  That’s ~$130 US for a 30 day supply.  Yowza.  We couldn’t take a picture or I would’ve asked Qi to translate the herbs for me.  I also heard his assessment of my peers and according to them, he diagnosed them properly.  None of us purchased the herbs though.

There is a book I plan to buy (to Qi’s chagrin!) to study herbs and their healing power.  It parallels my work in a way and I find it fascinating.  I also bought a ton of tea while in Beijing.

old versus new stone floors

I’m fascinated by the dragons.

I have much more to share on Beijing.