After the temple we headed to Tianenmen Square - Jay gave me a history lesson on it and what had occurred there, which made the whole experience that much more impactful. The place is littered with speakers and cameras as to disband any minor disruption before it becomes more serious. Jay also pointed out the men in uniform to me, situated next to men in jeans...strange I thought...this is to show the people of China that "eyes are upon them", or that there are many police officers not dressed in uniform, so you never really know who is who.
After that, we went to the Forbidden City, where Jay once again ran down the history for me, super helpful! This royal palace, separated from the rest of the city was built for the Emperor and his family...if you saw the size of this place, and knowing the the Emperor's family contained maybe people...you might be nauseous at how much space they had to occupy...the gardens were beautiful and such oddities as double-rooted trees were found...meaning that one tree grew from two roots, and somehow they grew together as it extended upwards...soooo you essentially had something looking like the broom that chases Micky Mouse if you are a Fantasia fan..quite odd to say the least.
We were so close to Jinshang park that we decided to go. We walked all the way up to find a beautiful temple with a golden Buddha inside! My First Live Buddha!!! So cool! :) We saw people making offerings to it as well, and from here the view was stunning. You could see a view of the old and new, intertwining as the rooftops of the Forbidden City eventually faded into large commercial buildings...
Travel is all about mixing it up to me. Staying in a public place, and with friends at the next stop. Eating out at restaurants, and then having a home-cooked meal the next day. It is all about variation and mixing it up so as not to get bored. Having many exciting days and then some for rest (which is today- my feet are killing me from all the walking and exploring I've done!) Getting enough sleep is crucial too! When your body is in a foreign place (and more importantly for the first few days) it needs to recuperate! Staying in a big city, and using it as a hub to travel elsewhere can eliminate the need for constant travel and moving heavy bags, a good idea!!
Side Note: Check out hostels in the cities you travel in! Why? They are generally cheaper to stay in than hotels (if you don't mind giving up a bit of privacy), but usually have single rooms as well! Even if you don't want to stay in the hostel, use them as a resource. It is essentially an international hub where people from all over are looking for information, so naturally they have the answers to MANY questions...this information can generally be obtained without cost or proof of stay, so you might consider hostels to be tourist offices!