Thursday April 21, 2011

BEIJING – We visited the Forbidden City this morning in heavy rain. This monumental collection of parks and buildings was built in the early 15th Century as the “home” of the Emperors. It is remarkably crowded with Chinese tourists there to soak up their national heritage. Go early. We started at the North Gate at opening time (most people start at the South Gate on Tiananmen Square) and moved South through the complex, giving us a few hours of relative peace until we ran into the the throngs that started at the same time that we did, but at the South gate. This is a standard view of the North Gate from Jingshan Park which abuts the Forbidden City to the North. Taken with my Leica M9 and a 90mm lens, two frames stitched.

It rains on the Forbidden City
It rains on the Forbidden City

Here we are at the South Gate five hours later. The South Gate faces Tiananmen Square, the giant square that is the heart of official China. Tianamen Square is accessible only through subterranean passages with security checks; there are security cameras everywhere; sentries march prescribed routes through the square.

South gate  of the Forbidden City
South gate of the Forbidden City

South of Tiananmen Square is the new Qianmen Walking Street. This had been a vibrant shopping street in the 1950s. The street and the area to the East of it were recently demolished – the walking street consists of new storefronts built in traditional style. The impression is that some Disney virus infected the urban planners who put this here. To the West of it is still a dynamic area old side streets and alleys. Here’s Maria trying to get unlost. Taken with my Leica M9 and a 50mm Summicron.

School girls help Maria
School girls help Maria

On this day one year ago: fundraiser at Gustavinos.

Benefit at Gustavinos

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