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…in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?

Day 11: Beijing

We start the day with a mission in mind, the Forbidden City. An emperors’ residence from the Ming Dynasty 1420 to the end of the Qing Dynasty, 1912. It is called Forbidden, because no one could enter or leave without the emperor’s permission. The only males allowed in the city were eunuchs, to ensure the emperors’ bloodline. Around 1200 eunuchs were in service at any one time. The last inhabitant was the Empress Dowager who kept her nephew, the rightful heir, imprisoned so that she could maintain control. Her last act before she died was to have him executed. The walk is lengthy and we meander across town, stopping to lunch on delicious shrimp, delicious mushroom noodles, and not-so-delicious quail eggs, no shell, half cooked, with a hard yolk and translucent, gelatinous egg white exterior. A cute dog ignores me but licks Ricks boots passionately. In fact, Rick had dogs licking him all day. We realize that while I had spent an hour in the hotel last night scrubbing the dirty grooves in my shoes with his toothbrush, Rick still had dung remnants on his shoes from Mongolia. A pleasing aroma to our canine friends, and perhaps to Rick as well.

Turns out the Forbidden City is actually forbidden, to one of us at least. We pay $10 each for tickets and make it nearly through security check when Rick is stopped for having a dangerous weapon in his pocket. Why he felt the need to carry a cross-bow I have no idea, perhaps to fend off dead emperors. Let’s go into the next line he says, I’ll put it down the front of my pants. Oh Rick, are you intentionally trying to drive me insane? Do you really want to mess with guys with guns? Did your man-parts not get enough of a beating on the horse trek?

$20 wasted, we head for Tiananmen Square, which has 10,000 people queuing to get in and the same ‘dangerous weapons’ sign. No entry. Oh for two we decide to take the subway home, at least it’s a new form of transport. No entry. Same ‘dangerous weapons’ sign. Beijing is up three, Justine and Rick zero. They refuse to sell us limes at the supermarket checkout and we have no idea why until we realize they will only scan ones with a barcode. Perhaps we’d be better off staying in the hotel room locked in the closet, like childhood. Even that has its dangers, I get blisters on my hands from wringing wet clothes in the sink (to save $150 in laundry charges), then spill a mocha all over the bed for which we incur a huge fine on checkout for ruining the duvet cover.

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