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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 39 – Forbidden City Coffee Shop

Without question the Forbidden City is the highlight of Beijing’s tourist trail for me so far. Its coffee shop also has the best coffee even if it is expensive. Fact is, when a place is this impressive, with its uniform structures that evoke the emotions you’d expect from the Orient, £2.50 for a brew seems almost justified – and it’s pretty bitter out there at the moment.

Beijing also deigned to offer a rare a special treat today – blue sky. Everything looks better under a blue sky.

As for Tiananmen Square, that was a complete let down. We only realised afterwards that we’d walked past it. Perhaps if it had either been viewed from above when packed or empty then it would’ve had the impact we’d hoped for but we effectively missed it.

Of course the Forbidden City’s uniform design, colours and style lend themselves to a “you’ve seen one building, you’ve seen them all” feeling, which is in part true, but that’s part of its beauty – that a whole palace, hidden from the public for centuries, sanctuary to the ruling dynasties, can be built and maintained with such harmonious precision and on such a huge scale.

A private viewing would be the ultimate way to indulge in its splendour but the same can be said for pretty much anywhere. Helps you understand why the emperors chose to keep the palace hidden behind closed doors though.