This place is no longer forbidden which is really useful as I’d be unable to write anything about it if it was.
It’s not really a city either, although, it’s probably bigger or similar sized to some of the cities that we have back home.
Anyways, like most tourist sites that we’ve gone to in China, this place is huge and it’s very very busy.
After you get through the potential tour guides, you can get to the ticket office and then it’s a big long walk to the entrance, through security and ticket checks and then it’s into the city itself.
For this one, we hired audio guides which were good. If you were to walk around the place without seeing anything, I reckon you’d be walking for a good 30 – 40 minutes.
The audio guide, as expected, gives a load of info on the various places with the city, what each area was used for, who lived or worked there etc.
The first guide wasn’t working and trying to tell the security guard that we needed to replace it wasn’t easy. He kept pointing us in the direction of the sites. Eventually I found the word for ‘broken’ in our app, ‘Pleco’ and said it while pointing to the audio guide.
I think the guy that we were the broken ones as he looked at us strangely and let us go back to get it replaced. It’s not very easy when we know none of the local language.
After that, the guides were really useful if you’re interested in the place – which of course, we were as we’d gone to visit it.
There’s also various places of worship with some huge religious statues to go and look at – if you can battle your way through the crowds of camera wielding maniacs or excited tourists if you prefer to be nicer to them.
After seeing the various parts of the forbidden city, we were able to walk round the outer grounds of the city and take some really cool photos while the sun was setting. I’m no photography expert as I’m sure my pictures will verify but even I couldn’t fail to be impressed by these sunset ones.
There were also some wedding photos being taken of a newly married couple nearby – it was best that we kept a safe distance as I doubt they’d have been impressed by a pair of scruffy backpackers ‘photo bombing’ them.
From there, we learned a pretty expensive lesson. Well, it wasn’t an expensive lesson really but a lesson learned regardless.
We went for dinner and a, what we thought was a nice wee woman, showed us the menu which had English translations on it. The meals were very reasonable so we sat down and she offered tea.
Looks can be deceptive and this “nice wee woman” turned out not to be very nice.
Most times in China, they’ll give you tea or hot water and not add the charge to the bill – the fly old woman had tea on her menu, which we didn’t notice and later charged 50RMB (approx £5) for the tea.
When we questioned the price of the bill, she immediately pointed to the price of tea so I suppose we weren’t the first pair of eejits to be caught out by the expensive pot of tea.
On the plus point though, it means that we now ask the price of anything that we’re unsure on before ordering it.
As well as info on the forbidden city, we’re also giving tips on how to avoid being ripped off by nice old women.