We ducked under the road again and approached the Tiananmen Gate,
through which we will enter the Forbidden City. Flanking the gate are two huabaio poles
which look like Chinese totem poles. The two on this side of the gate face out; there are two more on the inside that face into the palace grounds. Apparently the poles facing out remind the Emperor to go out into his land and see the condition of the people; the ones facing in remind him not to have so much fun out there that he forgets to come back in and do the governing!
Once through the Tiananmen Gate, I thought we were in. I mean, inside the Forbidden City proper. It looked palatial enough to me, but it turns out we were only in a courtyard between the Tiananmen Gate and the Upright Gate:
Okay, so then we went through the Upright Gate. We're in now, right? Nope! Before us stands the Meridian Gate:
and it's a long way away from us. We walked and walked to get up to it, and found it is so thick it's more like a tunnel
(wherein they x-rayed our bags and had us go through a metal detector) but now we can truly say we are in.