July 19 (from my traveling journal)
Visit to the Forbidden City! We drove to Tiananmen Square and then walked the whole width of it through crowds of tourists - mostly Chinese from the country side - army guards marching, peddlers, locals wanting to take their photograph with us, endless umbrellas, kids, thousands of Chinese families visiting and us westerners getting our first encounter with Chinese pride China! Mao's mausoleum on one side, Mao's picture by the front gate on the other.
The front gate: the entrance to the Forbidden City!!! Hot, hot, HOT!!! Sweat dripping and exhilarating! In the heart of Beijing, stepping so close to the cruel past of China.
Afternoon: Summer Palace - summer retreat of the imperial family during Qing Dynasty. Amazing landscape. The mile long painted corridor waiving along the lake shore with the most magnificent views, the lotus in bloom, the buddhist temple on the hill, the empress' CiXi marble boat... The heat still in unbearable levels but we survived!