Day 8: The Forbidden City

In stark contrast to when I opened the curtains yesterday to reveal great disappointment, today Beijing truly turned it on, presenting a winter-wonderland outside as snow blanketed the city.

Beijing looked truly stunning today, the snow cleared much of the pollution and the extended sight-lines showed a beautiful winter city – giving a whole new appreciation for what is truly a tremendously impressive place.

As it was my last day in Beijing and with no meetings scheduled, I caught the subway to Tiananmen to visit the Forbidden City. Finished in 1420 after 14 years of construction involving more than one million workers, the city was the home to Chinese emperors for more than 500 years.

Spanning 720,000m2 and containing more than 9,000 rooms across the 980 buildings contained within its walls, the Forbidden city is an architectural wonderland home to some of the most amazing stories in Chinese history.

I was lucky enough to find an amazing tour guide, Jon Vey, who took me around the grounds for many hours in the afternoon recounting the incredible history of the Minq and Qing dynasties.

Jon then took me on the journey up Jingshan Hill. After a slippery climb and a number of close calls, I was presented with a stunning view over the snowcapped city. Words and photographs don’t even begin to do the trip justice. A real standout moment from all of my travels.

Having a well informed and connected tour guide paid dividends when I visited the King’s Hospital with Jon, a centre for Chinese medicine that doubled as a teaching hospital. The walls were adorned with pictures of famous leaders from around the globe who had been treated here and I was next on the list.

The doctors gave me a wonderful presentation about traditional Chinese medicine and proceeded to diagnose and then relax me with herbs and massage. Honestly I was always a skeptic about this kind of thing, but I walked out of the King’s Hospital feeling amazing. What a wonderful way to end a terrific week in Beijing.

Tomorrow we’re due to leave the hotel at 5:30am so we can reach Shanghai by early afternoon and as excited I am to see more of China, I feel as though I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of Beijing – all the more reason to return I suppose.

Bring on Shanghai!

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