Our morning started early with a 7:15am buffet breakfast in the the Hotel after which we checked out and rejoined our guide and driver for the short drive over to Tiananmen Square. It's huge to say the least and security was at a high level. If you weren't with a licensed guide, there was a detailed inspection of your person and parcels and there were both uniformed and "plain clothed" personnel all over. The "plain clothed personnel were all dressed in white shirts and black suits and their eyes were darting left and right inspecting the crowd. The tomb of Chairman Mao is in the center of the square and we didn't have time to visit it. The back side of the square adjoins the entrance to the Forbidden City and it reached by an under ground passageway with more security. One then passes through three sets of massive gates and separating large courtyards before reaching the inside of the Forbidden City and the Heavenly Palace.
The exit from the Forbidden City passes over the remains of the moat and we waited for our van. He picked us up and we went to the Da wan ju restaurant where we enjoyed another sumptuous Chinese lunch. Chinese food in China is so flavorful compared to American Chinese food. We then headed back to the ship which was about a 2 1/2 hour drive with very little traffic. We did have a little episode at one of the highway toll booths. It seems that the computer system was not working correctly and we entered a lane that was open but the equipment didn't work. So we backed up, drove perpendicular to the flow of traffic and chose another lane.
We were back at the Port by 3:00pm and quickly passed through the scanner. It was really interesting that there are absolutely no vendors or services in this totally modern cruise terminal. Today was also very cold and the termainal area was even colder. We dropped our things off at our stateroom and headed up to the Crow's Nest to relax, get warm, have a beverage, and update the blog.
We departed over 3 hours late at 9:15pm after 4 guests didn't surrender their passports and held up clearance. I was even able to watch the cast show of 'Dance' on the Main Stage before the ship sailed.
We now have two days at sea to Japan. Stay tuned!
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