Trip Start Jun 03, 2013
47Trip End Aug 25, 2013
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What I did
I went to Joy City early to have some tea at iTea and to eat lunch at Burger King before Lara met me there at 1:00. She wanted to take a taxi to the entrance, but it's difficult to do from that street. So we decided to take the subway. She was concerned that I wouldn't want to take the subway, but I was all for it. Really, we could have walked, but with the heat, the train would be better.
We got to the entrance and saw a never-ending line of people waiting to get in. Ugghh. What to do, what to do? She asked me what I wanted to do, and I asked if there was something cool, lol, knowing there probably wasn't such a thing. She said we could walk to the top of this mountain
So we try to get a taxi, but we're unsuccessful. We get a tuk-tuk-type mobile and we speed through some gorgeous streets. I had no idea where we were going. It was hotter than Hades. We get out, and I find out that we're at another entrance to the Forbidden City. I didn't even know there was another entrance.
We try to figure out the lines. Some lady (a scalper) is constantly bugging us about buying tickets. She's really annoying. Lara is flustered because she has never been to the Forbidden City before, and doesn't know what to do, plus translating into English is difficult for her. The line for the tickets is, of course, huge here too. Do we pay lots of money to the annoying lady to walk right in? Yes, actually we do.
So, we made it. The Forbidden City is huge. Lara buys a big map that shows just how big it is. Dear God, we could be here for days and not see it all. I guess it's a good thing most of the buildings all look alike.
The air is gray and moist and heavy with the heat. I'm disappointed that we can't go into any of the buildings. I thought maybe there might be some buildings set up like museums where we could go in and cool off every now and then. I also thought we'd be able to see some of the imperial treasures that way. The closest thing was that some buildings had glass walls where you could look in and see the dusty rooms of the Empresses or concubines, for example.
I think some of the best parts that I saw were some of the garden areas. I do wonder what I missed though. I think Lara and I ran out of steam at about the same time. It was good timing, because about the time we got a taxi, the sky opened up and the rain came down like a waterfall. Thunder boomed just over us. I think it was the loudest thunder I've ever heard.
We got let off at Otto's Restaurant. I was dripping wet just going from the taxi to the door. The tables were all long, family-style. We had a great dinner that included the best rice noodles with pork, onions, and bean sprouts. We stayed there for quite a long time, relaxing and talking.
When I got back to the dorm, emotions were high. Myriam is going home tonight. She is sad to be leaving. Everyone seems to have had such an amazing experience at the camps. Myriam saved up a year's salary to be here. She wants to have a cultural conference where she lives and to inspire more people from Algeria to do volunteer work. I can't wait to here more about it.