On Sunday, I took a walk inside the Forbidden City (also known as the Palace Museum). It was a fairly large area, but you couldn’t go inside most of the rooms. However, you could take a peek inside some of the chamber rooms and some of the living spaces of the emperor and his family. I also went inside the Hall of Clocks and Watches, which is where the imperial clock makers had their workshop. There were several different types of clocks on display, which tended to reflect an increasing European influence as time wore on. Additionally, I took a tour of the Hall of Treasures, which served as the living space for the emperor’s concubines (apparently they meant those kind of treasures), but they also had some of the treasures of the imperial household on display. You could also take a look at some of the Stone Drums, which contain some of the earliest character stone carvings. Being thousands of years old, most of writing was rather difficult to read, but the museum people had some transcriptions available.
There were also some interesting characters wandering about the place. Inside one of the gift shops, I ran into some sort of finger-painting artist who apparently specializes in creating artwork with the side of this pinky finger and fingernail. He gave me a personal demonstration of his technique and then managed to talk me into buying one his pieces. He then tried to up-sell me and get me to buy some sort of globe-like art that he created. I’m not sure that he understood the meaning of “quit while you’re ahead,” as he was rather insistent that I buy one of his globes. However, my frugality won out in the end.
I then ran into some university student who tried to take me to her school’s “art show.” The fact that she was able to communicate with me in English fluently was the first thing that raised eyebrows. She then tried to lead me into some back room behind a rather thick door, which I would have none of. The whole thing smelled suspiciously like the Tea House Scam, so I took off. Though, the look of surprise on her face was pretty priceless.
So, the Forbidding City was quite interesting, in more ways than one. I am about to head off to Anyang, so I should have some pictures of that soon.