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Scenes from a Forbidden City…

Beautiful day for a tour of the Forbidden City. After a week of punishing miasmic doom clouds hanging over the city, Friday’s pissing of rain and the return of some good north winds  cleared up the sky nicely.

Tiananmen Square is basically Beijing’s version of Times Square: The kind of place tourists flock to and locals avoid at all costs. Lots of tourists today. How do I know they were tourists? Only tourists take the “Laowai” picture. Beijingers would rather tattoo the Japanese flag on their forehead than be seen fawning over foreigners.

There’s increased security around the Forbidden City. Anyone approaching along Chang’an Boulevard from the east or west is funneled through these narrow checkpoints. Today the line on the eastern side was backed up beyond the Tiananmen East subway stop. Doesn’t seem like there’s an express lane for obvious tourists either.

Recommendation is to go through Tiananmen and use the underpass to cross from the south side of Chang’an Boulevard to the Forbidden City.

Security tight around the square as well, but the police automatically wave through anybody who does not look like a poor Chinese farmer with a grievance.

Saw some of those too, though.

One elderly couple was being harassed at a checkpoint and the old lady went completely fucking ape shit on the police officer.  There was screaming, yelling, threats, and finally she gave the police officer the kind of shove that in the developed world means “Let’s do this, bitch.”  Didn’t see the end result because the police closed ranks and hustled everybody away.

Finally, there’s a rope just inside Tiananmen (the gate) that corrals all incoming visitors to the righthand side and prevents anybody from trying to travel south through the gate.  Previously, you could walk through Tianamen and then turn around and walk back, or even, on occasion, walk through the Forbidden City side gates and then head south and out into the square.  In recent years they police have been known to yell at you if you try and do this but now they have any actual rope barricade.

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