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Mushu and other tales of the Forbidden City

Snoring, Mulan and guessing grisly stories


Our last two days in Beijing have not been filled with as much wow factor as when we visited the Great Wall (There are nine million security checks in Beijing). None the less it has been impressive. Two days ago we stopped off at the Forbidden City and, for those who don’t know it, this is the place that Mulan meets the emperor. For those who don’t know who Mulan is you need your head checking! So with Alex pretending to be Mushu we set off on our first whistle stop tour of the palaces and its gardens.

We had such a brilliant time that we left our tour group to stay behind and explore its alleyways, courtyards and gardens much more thoroughly. Not having a map left us at a bit of a disadvantage and so with no real plan we dived straight in and tried to make the best of it. Most of the signs on the buildings have English on and so it was relatively easy to quickly get an idea of what had been going on in most of the rooms. It seems that the palace was actually that big for a reason and not just to show off. At most points during Chinese Imperial rule the emperor had somewhere in the range of one to three hundred concubines. Boy did they know how to live. The buildings themselves were stunning and many held some beautiful works of art and sculptures and we even stumbled across a calligraphy demo being held in one of the rooms which was cool.


After an obligatory evening meal of pot noodles and a good nights sleep we woke up refreshed and ready to see what has so far proved to be one of our favourite attractions in other countries that we have visited (Browsing in Brissie, Pretendy surfing on Bondi) the police museum. It took a little while to find the Beijing Police Museum as our guide book wasn’t exactly spot on but once we were there we paid the ridiculously low admission fee and passed through the by now standard security check and x-ray scanner. It seemed we had the place to ourselves and we took it at a leisurely pace. We read about the formation of the police after the Cultural Revolution in China and how it went about its business during the Olympics. It took ages to get through but we persevered knowing that the next section was our fav.

The stories section has always been the best for us as we’re both a little geeky when it gets to history and we both love to see the real side of things and put what has already been learnt into perspective. However much to our eternal disappointment the entire section was in Chinese only and so we only got to look longingly at the photos of drug busts and kidnappings knowing that we would never truly understand what we were seeing. So disgruntled we didn’t spend a huge amount of time covering the rest of the museum which concerned traffic policing, weapons and uniforms which was a bit boring in all honesty anyway. We probably would have had to cut short our time in museum had we not rushed as we had to back at the hotel for two in the afternoon to catch our overnight transport onto our next destination.

Morning has broken and we are currently still on the train bound once more for Shanghai after an incredibly bad nights sleep. This time we were in the hard sleeper section, so as opposed to our first hellish experience (The train ride from hell) we had the luxury of beds. The night started out well with everyone from the group chatting away but when it came to lights out at ten things started to go downhill and before long the situation was in freefall. Picture the scene. We are both in a cabin with one other group member and three random Chinese people on the three bunks on the other side. As we climbed into bed we thought we could make out a storm of some sort assailing the train but it soon became plain that the three gentlemen we were sharing with were setting up a snoring racquet that would have roused the dead from their slumber. Imagine three large, wild animals trapped in a cage growling at one another as you are trying to fall asleep. Now multiply that by a jet engine and throw in a couple of random squeaks and snorts and you have what we had to contest with. Needless to say none of us slept and so now face a bleary day in Shanghai.


Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • Take ear plugs for the sleeper train.
  • If you are on a tour don’t be afraid to split and go and do your own thing. Remember it is you who is paying for it.
  • The Beijing Police Museum is good, provided you can read Chinese.

Posted by rexontheroad 08:52 Archived in China

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