on December 8, 2008
60 RMB for admission + extra for audio guide (the audio guide ended up being more of a hassle than anything, as we had to deal with a finicky machine and much to our disappointment the original voice recording with Roger Moore has been replaced with a flat, monotone female voice. Very disappointing!)We entered through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, coming from Tiannenman Square. Just follow the masses... they're heading there too.We really enjoyed the Hall of Clocks and Watches with their collection of early mechanical pieces from China, Japan, Switzerland and other countries. Some clocks defy imagination with their over-the-top designs and style. You will have to buy and extra ticket for 10 RMB to enter this area.The former living quarters of the Empress was also fascinating, containing a library, theatre for Beijing opera (the Empress was apparently an avid opera fan), gardens and more. We watched Bertolucci’s, "The Last Emperor" just prior to visiting to understand a bit more of the history and scope of this "city". After we returned home, we watched it again and recognized some scenes, including shots of the Gate of Heavenly Purity (where the ministers would gather around waiting to report to the emperor) as well as the courtyard area outside the Hall of Mental Cultivation where the emperor as a boy rode his bicycle in the film. The Forbidden City opens at 8:30 am and I strongly recommend getting there early in the day. By late morning, it was completely mobbed. We enjoyed our moments of solitude and tried to imagine what life must have been like during the 500 years that this palace was off limits to the common person.
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