Robin's Adventures

An Asian Adventure

Golden Water River

Once inside the Forbidden City, there is an elaborate courtyard that has a river with five bridges. The river not only gives the area a good FengShui, but also provides water that can be utilized in the event of fire in the surrounding buildings.

The five bridges represent humanity, a sense of duty, wisdom, reliability, and propriety, or the five Confucian virtues.

Harmony in the Forbidden City

To get to the second courtyard, you must pass through the Gate of Supreme Harmony. Three large halls and many other smaller buildings surround this courtyard.

The largest building, the Hall of Supreme Harmony, is 98 feet above the square. It is the ceremonial center of power and nothing is allowed to be taller, thus no trees are planted in the square. Also in the square are the Hall of Preserving Harmony and the Hall of Central Harmony.

Forbidden City Up Close

Within the Forbidden City, the edges of each roof are decorated with a line of small statues. The more statues, the higher the status of the building. Everywhere we looked, there were colorful designs and interesting roof angles. There was a large topiary dragon in the garden and a cool bronze turtle in the courtyard.

Fearful of assassins, the emperor had the builder make the bricks in the courtyard fifteen layers thick, seven layers lengthwise and eight layers crosswise, so no one could tunnel into the courtyard. In addition, the emperor stayed in a different room each night.

A Clean Sweep

Public areas around the city of Beijing were very clean, in part due to the efforts of a large number of very diligent street sweepers with some very high tech brooms.

Scooters with Accessories

Although most of the traffic throughout China was provided by large numbers of cars, we did see many people on bicycles and scooters. The most interesting aspect of this was the variety of accessories available to help protect people from the elements.

Large umbrellas provided protection for both the rider and passengers from the heat of the sun and the moisture of the rain. In addition quilted aprons on the front of the scooter cut down the cold bite of the wind and mitts attached to the handle bars kept hands warm and toasty while riding the scooter.

Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is a Taoist temple that was used by emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties to pray for a good harvest.

The Hall of Prayer is round and sitting on a square base because the earth is represented by a square and heaven by a circle. This symbolism can also be seen in some Chinese coins which are round with a square hole in the center.

Today many people use the park surrounding the temple as a gathering place. They gather under a long awning in small groups to play cards or a checkers type of game.

More Temple of Heaven

The ceremony to pray for a good harvest was conducted twice each year and was performed privately by the emperor and his advisors. No commoners were allowed to view the emperor's procession or the proceedings at the Temple of Heaven.

Tasting Tea

On a visit to a tea shop in Beijing we discovered an interesting method of making sure the water was hot enough for the tea.

Pedi Cab

We took a pedi cab through the narrow streets and alleys of a Beijing hutong, or old neighborhood. It was interesting to look over the driver's shoulder as all the sights, sounds, and smells of the neighborhood passed by.

The driver pedaled rather rapidly as he was trying to finish the ride before it began to rain. He managed to finish just as the sky opened up and we only got a little bit wet... all part of the adventure!

In the Hutong

As we moved through the hutong, we could see the people of the neighborhood going about their daily business. There were some small businesses woven in between the small dwellings.