Our trip to Beijing started out with our flight from Detroit canceled. We were routed to Toronto, Ontario via a propeller driven airplane and from there direct to Beijing.
To our surprise
- The streets were flooded with new cars, motorcycles and even an old truck with an open engine and no doors. I would drive in Rome or Istanbul but not in Beijing or Shanghai.
- There were skyscrapers mile upon mile – not cookie cutter buildings but buildings of architectural beauty.
- Our hotel was economical and first class (we got used to small European hotels on our trips).
- Chinese food was nothing like the Chinese food we ate in America – it was much lighter.
- Signs were in English as well as Chinese.
Beijing highlights (Information is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beijing)
Three styles of architecture are predominant in urban Beijing. First, there is the traditional architecture of imperial China, perhaps best exemplified by the massive Tian’anmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace), which remains the People’s Republic of China’s trademark edifice, the Forbidden City, the Imperial Ancestral Temple and the Temple of Heaven. Next, there is what is sometimes referred to as the “Sino-Sov” style, with structures tending to be boxy and sometimes poorly constructed, which were built between the 1950s and the 1970s. Finally, there are much more modern architectural forms, most noticeably in the area of the Beijing CBD and Beijing Financial Street.
In the early 21st century, Beijing has witnessed tremendous growth of new building constructions, exhibiting various modern styles from international designers. A mixture of both 1950s design and neofuturistic style of architecture can be seen at the 798 Art Zone, which mixes the old with the new.
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. It is located in the center of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost 500 years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.
Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 ha (180 acres). The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
The Forbidden City is a rectangle, measuring 961 metres (3,153 ft) from north to south and 753 metres (2,470 ft) from east to west. It consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,886 bays of rooms; however this figure may not include various antechambers. Another common figure points to 9,999 rooms including antechambers; although this number is frequently cited, it is likely an oral tradition, and it is not supported by survey evidence. The Forbidden City was designed to be the centre of the ancient, walled city of Beijing. It is enclosed in a larger, walled area called the Imperial City. The Imperial City is, in turn, enclosed by the Inner City; to its south lies the Outer City.
To our surprise we learned foo dogs come in a male & female pair. The female can be distinguished by her paw on a baby foo dog. Our foo dogs at home guarding our doorway are both males and will soon be replaced by an authentic set.
TEMPLE OF HEAVEN
Among the best known religious sites in the city is the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan), located in southeastern Beijing, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties made visits for annual ceremonies of prayers to Heaven for good harvest.
The Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), who commissioned work on the imperial gardens on the hill in 1749, gave Longevity Hill its present-day name in 1752, in celebration of his mother’s 60th birthday.
The Summer Palace is a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces. The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometres (720 acres), three-quarters of which is water. Longevity Hill is about 60 metres (200 feet) high and has many buildings positioned in sequence. The front hill is rich with splendid halls and pavilions, while the back hill, in sharp contrast, is quiet with natural beauty.
The central Kunming Lake covering 2.2 square kilometres (540 acres) was entirely man-made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill. In the Summer Palace, one finds a variety of palaces, gardens, and other classical-style architectural structures.
In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.” It is a popular tourist destination but also serves as a recreational.
The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forces. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC; these, later joined together and made bigger and stronger, are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall. Especially famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced; the majority of the existing wall are from the Ming Dynasty.
The main Great Wall line stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi). This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi).
I recommend taking the Tram to the upper wall. The steep steps can be hard on the legs. Also the bathrooms were “bombsight” toilets (The French call them Turkish toilets and the Turks call them French toilets)
No matter where she goes people take to Barb. Here she was befriended by a Chinese woman who did not speak English – but they communicated well.
As you enter the burial grounds, tradition has you apologize to the dead emperors for disturbing them.
Our tour stopped at a tea store where we were instructed on the different types of teas, and proper way to prepare and slurp your tea.
Several times we saw groups of people exercising, both young & old.