Kiswahili guides tourist in China

KISWAHILI is one of the languages used in guiding tourists at the Forbidden City that houses a UNESCO heritage site, the Palace Museum in Beijing.
The Forbidden City, extending 753 metres from east to west, and one kilometre from north to south, makes a rectangular shape and covers a total area of 720,000 square metres. In winter, which is low season, about 20,000 visitors tour the palace, while in summer over 80,000 visit the city on a daily basis.
The highest number, an average of 100,000 tourists per day, is experienced on October 1, China’s national day. Kiswahili and Hausa are the only two African languages out of 35 used to guide tourists who flock to the palace to see how 24 emperors from the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties lived and ruled China. Tourists select automatic guide recorders of his/her choice and listen to his/her mother tongue.

A free map of the city is provided to help one to maze around the Forbidden City. The city in almost 300 years old of the Ming and Qing rule was forbidden for local citizens, it was only for the emperors and their families. An emperor, during that time, had a wife and several concubines.
The emperor’s house that also had his working desk at the centre of the office, was surrounded by 17 beds. The bed that the emperor chose to sleep was kept secret to himself due to security and safety reasons. And he visited a wife of his choice without prior notice.
A wife was not expected to go to the emperor. The palace was mostly occupied by the king’s children and servants. The elder sons once mature enough were sent to the provinces as governors. It consists of several dozen compounds of varying sizes and some 9,900 bays of rooms, with a total floor area of 150,000 square metres.
Most of the structures were built with wood, roofed with yellow glazed tiles and stood on blue-and-white stone foundations, looking solemn and brilliant. To prevent fire, big water pots, acting as extinguishers were kept at the corners of the building.
City walls were 10 metres high, and a 52 metre-wide moat surrounds the Forbidden City. Three-storied towers are placed at each corner of the wall. Most of the buildings in the Forbidden City, according to our tour guide, were rebuilt many times, although they maintained the original architectural style. To tour the entire city one needs three days.
The entrance fee is 40 Yuan (10,000/-), and of course one pays the same amount for automatic guide. And one can hire a guide for charges per hour. The Forbidden City is in the heart of Beijing or Jing, sometimes “romanized” as Peking, which is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with over 21,000,000 inhabitants as of last year statistics.
Here one can experience the best of China’s history and culture. It is a magical city. When arriving in Beijing, one finds themselves standing amid an amazing blend of ancient and modern influence. One observes this blending of modernity and ancient openly at Tiananmen Square.
The Square is a large city square in the centre of Beijing. It is named after the Tiananmen gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace). Tiananmen Square is the fourth largest city square in the world with 440,000 square metres.
In the Square is where the Great Hall of the People and National Museum are located and the Palace Museum that houses the Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties in Beijing and Shenyang—better known as the Forbidden City. It also houses Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, where he is preserved.
The Forbidden City is the largest and most complete imperial palace and ancient building complex in China, and the world at large. Its construction began in 1406 and was completed 14 years later, having a history so far of some 580 years.
The building arrangement within the Forbidden City is symmetrical. The Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony, which comprise the outer palace, and the Hall of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union and the Hall of Earthly Tranquillity, comprising the inner palace, stand in a line from south to north on the central axis.
The buildings of the Forbidden City fully embody the artistic features and style of ancient Chinese palace architecture, and can be called a masterpiece in Chinese, even world’s architectural history.


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