China Travels: Forbidden City (紫禁城/故宫)

The Forbidden City is one of the places to visit on my bucket list. You have no idea how excited and fascinated I am with visiting the place.

I watch too many dramas and period dramas (古装) is one of my most favourite genre; another genre being those martial arts/pugilistic world (武侠) types.

Forbidden City (紫禁城/故宫)
Forbidden City (紫禁城/故宫)
Forbidden City (紫禁城/故宫)
Forbidden City (紫禁城/故宫)

Some of you might recognise the places in the photo above from some of them period dramas. I watched TVB’s “大太監 (The Confidant)” which starred Michelle Yim and Wayne Lai and I got quite excited when I recognised the places where they filmed bits of the drama. Hahahaha.

I must say that the indoor sets used in “大太監 (The Confidant)” are really accurate to the real thing!! The real rooms where Empress Dowager CiXi used was about half the size of the drama version of the rooms; other than that, the layout and decor in the rooms are almost identical. AMAZING!!

An interesting trivia that I remembered from our tour guide, majority of the palace grounds have 13 layers of stone tiles(?)/blocks flooring laid in criss-cross to prevent enemies from tunnelling into the palace!! There is also a 52 metres wide moat and a 8 metres high stone wall around the entire perimeter of the Forbidden City. Talk about security.

Also, most of the stone tiles/blocks are still the original thing from the Ming Dynasty when the Forbidden City was built!!

The Forbidden City covers an area of about 720,000+ square metres and is said to have 9,999 rooms. Mind you the palace was built during the Ming Dynasty so factor in the technology available then. Go figure how much resources and effort it took to build the entire palace within 15 years.

Forbidden City (紫禁城/故宫)
Forbidden City (紫禁城/故宫)

The photo above is the real bed (with new and replicated bedding of course) that was slept on by the fascinating Empress Dowager Cixi (29 November 1835 – 15 November 1908).

Empress Dowager Cixi is one of the most powerful woman in the entire history of China. She ruled behind the curtain for about 48 years. She was a very forward thinking and modern woman at that time. She has tried cycling (just like in “The Confidant”). She also installed electric lights in her quarters in the palace, has ever used a telephone and even had her photo taken! Go wiki her, most of the pictures on the page are real photos of her.

Forbidden City (紫禁城/故宫)
Forbidden City (紫禁城/故宫)

Also, on the tour, I learnt why is drainage called “水龙头 (water dragon head/dragon sprout)” in Chinese. In the Forbidden City, everything is built on layers of stone so when it rains, there is no way for the water to absorbed/drained away so they have holes at every layer of elevation in the palace. However, the holes are ugly so they are decorated with carvings of dragon heads because it is the palace afterall and dragons signifies power. And from there came the term “水龙头 (water dragon head/dragon sprout)” to refer to drainage.

Our tour guide is also one fascinating woman who reads a lot and she was describing to us the ways and life within the palace; all the way down to how girls are chosen and prepared to have sex with the Emperor. I don’t know where she reads all these from but it surely was interesting as hell.

Apparently, the Emperor is only allowed to be with the girl(s?) for the duration one incense stick takes to burn… lol… which is about 2 hours per night. I think. And there would be a few eunuchs standing beside the bed watching/observing when the Emperor does the deed. It’s part of their job to document each encounter in their records and tally up pregnancies as I was told. LOL.

The amount of stories that lies behind those walls. Fascinating isn’t it? I would so love to visit the place again some time in the near future.

I didn’t take too many photos within the Palace Museum as it was more about the history and culture than the visuals when you visit the Forbidden City.

I highly recommend visiting this place. I saw that they have audio guides available for rental so make sure you pick one up if you are exploring the place on your own.


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