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Tiananmen Gate and Mao's Portrait

Beijing's Forbidden City

Now this place has a cool name!
Much better than that bland old 'Great Wall', or the pedestrian sounding 'Summer Palace'.

The Forbidden City is one of those places that just DEMANDS a James Earl Jones intonation.

Not only is it a macho name - it's also one of those titles that demands, from the first time you hear it, that you MUST go there.

Like Death Valley, or the Virgin Islands, it just calls to you.
Well, it calls to me anyway.

We spent about four hours here, recalling scenes from "The Last Emperor".
Here's where he rode his bike.
Here's where he climbed the roof.
Here's where he nailed Joan Chen.
And so on...

One thing that strikes you is the amount of cement in the Forbidden City.

Nice Doggie....

Angie and Qu Hong

You get the feeling that it's grass that was forbidden in the city, because there's enough cement here to pave a couple of other Chinese cities.

I'm surprised that no imperial decorators told the emperor that a couple of throw rugs would have warmed the place up sooo much.

Seriously, it's easy to imagine how impressive this must have been, when the grounds were filled with troops and guards for formal events.

The scale is massive enough to humble even the most powerful military men, and reduce them to pawns on the emperors' chessboard.

And the reds are vibrant enough to project vitality onto the weakest of China's monarchs.

But the Forbidden City isn't all Yang.

The tile-work, particularly on the roofs, is beautiful.
And despite the enormity of the grounds, the living quarters are surprisingly cozy and intimate.

Though I still think it could use a plot of grass and some throw rugs...
And a bar-b-que...
And a jacuzzi...