Or hello, as we learnt today.
After what seemed to be a very early wake up call, we started the day in Tainanmen Square, it was huge with guards everywhere. They have two just guarding a flag pole. We watched them change over too. Kevin explained when the guards are training they have sharp needle shape spikes inside their collars to ensure they stand up right.
From Tainanmen Square we moved into the Forbidden City. The history behind it all was fascinating. Kevins knowledge was fabulous! I explained how I was interested in structure and architecture so he tailored the tour to explain about the buildings, and the significance behind things.
Nothing is there by accident, everything has a very strong meaning and purpose. Some buildings had dragons on the roof corners, and the number of dragons represented the significance and importance, with the Emperor having the most at 10. There is so much to tell you about it all, but i would be here forever. Even the colours were significant, with yellow being reserved for the emperor only.
After the tour, we went to a traditional tea ceremony. We sat around a small table with a man in traditional Chinese dress. We tried various teas in tiny bowls. We were also taught how to drink from them properly, as women we should drink like a phoenix (pinky out). Men should drink like a dragon (pinky in)
Kevin then took us for lunch to a local Chinese restaurant. We really do Chinese food wrong! We ordered how we would at home, share a starter and a main course each, simple. Kevin explained it would be a lot of food and the waitress looked concerned, but we thought nothing of it. We should have been worried! The portions were insane, the mains could feed two people easy! Fortunately we had invited Kevin to join us, so he helped eat the mountain of food in front of us. The waitress also showed us how to use chopsticks properly. We made a valiant effort, but resorted to a fork half way through.
After lunch we moved onto The Temple of Heaven. It was three times bigger than the Forbidden City! It was mainly vast areas of trees and greenery, with temples near the centre. It was amazing to watch the locals, the retired folk meet in the afternoon to play cards on the sides of the temples. Kevin also explained on the weekends parents would come with plaques and posters containing details of their children in an attempt to find them a suitable husband/wife. Kind of a real life tinder I guess. There was even an outdor gym, which of course we had to play on!
Even the number of stones used in construction had significance. Everything was 9, there would be 9 steps, then 9 stones. A centre round stone would have 9 stones surrounding it, and then 18 surrounding that, and so on. Details I would have missed without Kevin.
China is just fascinating, the history, the culture, and the overwhelming feeling that everything is done with respect and honour.
All of this as it is only 4pm! Quick rest then we are off to the theatre tonight to watch a ‘cirque du soleil’ style kung fu show.
See ya x