Our last night in Beijing we went to the night market and watched Marc and Betty Anne munch on fried scorpions. The smell of this market was intense and I barely managed to keep down my dinner. There was an indescribable stench, I think it might be some kinda fermented tofu they eat. That along with the deep fried oil seemed to make the air even more pungent! Here is a taste of the local flavour, sorry, I can’t give you the smell!
Our IBD Adventures wrapped up with a trip to The Forbidden City. It was fascinating to learn about the history of this place and how the emperors held court here from 1420 until 1911. It was intriguing to listen to the stories of their rise and fall, the concubines and untold treasures that were housed within these walls. I am looking forward to going back and watching the movie, The Last Emperor, now that I have seen this place in person and learned a bit of the history.
Here are some tidbits of information that seemed to stick…Beijing is the most recent capital city, Bei means North and jing means city. Nanjing was the capital in the South and Xian was the ancient capital city and the start of the Silk Road which brought trade from the East to the West. All these cities have a Bell and Drum tower which they used to tell time. The Bell was used for the morning hours and drum for the night. These were towers were positioned in the centre of the old town. I was surprised to learn that the Emperor often had 200-300 concubines that would live in the palace as well, along which their servants. Young beautiful girls who showed promise in the area of dance, and other skills deemed worthy by the establishment, were brought to the palace by their families, in the hopes of them being chosen by the emperor. The chosen girls then devoted their lives to winning the favour of the emperor, sadly, these women would be buried alive, along with him when he passed. There seems to be a very strong emphasis on preparing ones’ tomb, and filling it with all the treasures (and people) you want to have join you in the afterlife. I guess if you had the means you would want to be prepared for whatever lay ahead, on the other side of death’s doorstep…those poor women though?!