Colonels Abroad in China: Feeling welcomed in the Forbidden City


Beijing is nothing like I would’ve ever expected. Being the nation’s capital, I assumed that it would be huge, but that doesn’t even begin to describe it.

There are approximately 21.7 million people living in the city of Beijing. That is approximately 5 times the amount of people living in the state of Louisiana.

Today, we toured Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, which was built during the Ming Dynasty, in the mid-fifteenth century. It served as the home of the emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government for almost 500 years. The palace has 9,999 and one-half rooms. This is significant as the emperor was believed to be the son of the heavens, and in heaven, there were believed to be 10,000 rooms.

Another interesting thing, and a somewhat hard concept to grasp, is just the overall length and insane amount of history that China has. While touring the Forbidden City, we walked through a museum of porcelain. China, of course, being another word for porcelain, has a very rich history in regard to porcelain. Some of the artifacts dated back to the mid-900s. I feel as Americans, we tend to think that we have a long history, but actuality we are a very new and recent nation.

Walking to the square and the Forbidden City from our bus was quite the hike. On the trek, we were surrounded by massive crowds of people walking frantically to their next destination. We stayed very close to our group throughout the entire tour, and it’s a good thing we did because it would’ve been easy to get lost from the group.

What’s very interesting about the people is that they absolutely love us. By that, I mean they love taking pictures of or with us. It sounds quite shocking at first, which it was, but it actually can be quite flattering. At almost every stop, we would have some people walk up to us and ask for a photo.

What I honestly can’t get over is how charming the Chinese people are. Although there is a bit of a language barrier — aside from our basics of hello, thank you and goodbye — I always seem to get a rather warm and refreshing smile. When our group stopped before entering the Forbidden City, a gentleman quickly typed into google translate and said, “the people of Shanghai welcome their American friends.”

China so far is absolutely amazing, and I look forward to learning more and being able to share it. Tomorrow, we are heading to one of the seven wonders, The Great Wall. I can’t wait to be able to further experience the culture and charm that China has to offer. Until next time, zaijian.