Didn’t really have a plan today. Spent most of the morning reading up about the history of China and Beijing. Felt is was necessary to understand where they came from to understand who they are today. Also, all the buildings and monuments are worthless without the history to attach to them.
Chinese civilisation goes back 5000 years and it was unified as one country about 2200 years ago. Since then they’ve been beating the crap out of one another. It’s just a continuous stream of one emperor taking power and then the moment he, or his descendents weaken someone else comes along to boot him out. There are some well known names in the mix – Ghengis Khan and his grandson Kubla Khan, all the dynasties (Ming, Quin), the Manchu family (Fu Manchu), and so on. In between the peasants get peeved with the opulence of the emperors and revolt, and get beaten back, and it was only in the 20th century when finally the peasants got a leg over and deposed the emperor. It could have happened any other time in the past 2200 years, and when the peasant revolt eventually succeeded in 1949 they had a charismatic leader (Chairman Mao) and a communist blueprint from the Soviet Union to learn from.
Up to about the late 1800’s they were constantly one of, or the most powerful nation on earth. The communist era was really just a minor speedbump in a very long highway of events. The common thread throughout all of this is that they have prospered when they have had strong leadership and suffered when they didn’t. We shouldn’t think of the Chinese resurgence as a flash in the pan.
Anyway, I went back out on the streets again at about 2pm heading towards the National Museum which apparently has more information that would add to my knowledge. Decided to walk and got sidetracked and only got the the museum at 4.30. I didn’t realise it closed at 4 so I’ll head back there tomorrow. Got a great shot of the original city gate on the way.
Sadly this was the main gate in the wall and they took away the rest of the wall in the 1960’s and used the void to make a freeway. The wall is about 25m high and 30m thick.
On the way back I went through the “1000 year old trees park”. Very humbling experience. Here’s one of the old folk (an Ent).
Then saw Buddy’s long distant cousin fishing in the moat around the Forbidden City …
… and finally ended up at the Donghuamen night food market for some munchies. The things on the left are starfish.
Full tummy, off to bed.