Monday, August 13, 2007

China Chronicles Part II

Ah, Home Sweet Home. :)

Nothing beats coming home to an overzealous serving of smooches and wet licks from the little canine pal I missed so much. He spent a good ten minutes demanding attention from me until I have throughly fuzz, hug and cuddle him over. Ah, my beloved Mister Toto.

Oh, I came home to find a newspaper cutting nicely sitting on my desk (by my Dad, I think) titled 'The Bard's Last Bark'. It was a tribute by Singapore's Ambassador to France to his beloved collie named Shakespeare who is losing a battle with vertebrae cancer. It was with much sadness, again, (and I guess my Dad was affected sufficiently to leave the article on my table) for me to recall Mister Toto is nearing his 'senior citizen' status. Sigh.

Nevertheless, let me narrate the tiring ventures in Beijing.

We were quite awed to arrive at the Beijing airport and get received by a personal chaffeur and a tour guide. Similar, the entire tour group comprised only of Sandy and me. Instead of a tour bus, we had a personal Volkswagen to our beck and call and a personal tour guide.

We were further astounded when we reached our hotel to find a humongous suite. No only does it have a study room, a bed room (that means 2 king sized beds for us both), it even consists of a gym!

Behold! Our little gym beyond the study area.

Sandy lounging at the reading couch in the room.

Bright and early next morning, we were driven to our first tourist sight - the Tiananmen Square.

Surrounding the square is a variety of places with historical significance, like the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen); the Museum of Chinese History and Museum of the Chinese Revolution; the Great Hall of the People; the Front Gate(Qianmen); the Chairman Mao Mausoleum and the Monument to the People's Heroes.

Since it was their school holidays, every single tourist attraction was simply teeming with people. And frankly, the Chinese people are quite rude. They are prone to pushing their way through. Manners are quite non-existent. In fact, if you smile and acknowledge or give way to others, you will be greeted with a look of absurdity.

The Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace Museum or Gugong, has housed 24 emperors over a span of 491 years and two dynasties, ending with the last emperor in 1925.

Looky, they build steep upslopes instead of steps, leading to the palace. This is orchestrated such that people, when walking upwards, are sort of bowing forward. It is an architecture which coerces people to display respect towards the emperor.

There are many things I learnt about the legendary creatures in the Chinese History. I have learn to differentiate minor, intricate details. For instance, in this picture, the lion's ears are flapped downwards.

This is the statues guarding the concubines' living quarters and it sorts of insinuates that palace matters should never concern the womenfolk.

The Dragon Claw Tree

We had a trishaw ride that brought us to the old villages in Beijing known as Hutong. 'Tis isn't anything much though.

Our next destination was another of the royalty's extravagance - The Summer Palace.

So yeah, the emperors, empresses and their entourage would visit this whole spanking premise during summer to while their time away.

Well, our meals were mediocre though. Some were not even palatable. Bleah. I missed Singapore's food terribly.

Second day in Beijing was awesome! It was the day to scale the Great Wall!

We are on our way to the Great Wall!

The view was breathtakingly beautiful. The weather was quite perfect.

Our objective was to scale the the highest point at the Great Wall called the 好汉坡. At some point, the slope was really steep and the stairs, imposingly many. It was a marvel in architecture, like the Ang Kor Wat.

Up, up and away!

Steep slope alert

At one point, we were confused as the path led to a dead end. After some recce-ing, we managed to finally climb all the way to the top in about an hour.

The view from the top

The day also included a visit to the Ming Tombs where Ming Tombs where the 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) are buried. Photography was discouraged because tombs were considered to be inauspicious and it might be a mark of disrespect.

We celebrated the day having Peking Duck for dinner! Mm-hmm.

The third morning was enroute to the Temple of Heaven, originally built as the stage for solemn rituals

We ended the day shopping in the afternoon and finally doing a manicure and pedicure at the Sanlitun pubbing district.

Sandy's white nails..

Our last day was a free and easy one and our chaffeur drove us around between several shopping districts. The Olympic fever was apparent in the city.

If you don't already know, the mascots are represented by the five elements of Feng Shui - Earth, Gold, Water, Fire and Wood.


After spending all our renmenbi and having a last luxurious hair wash in a random salon, we reluctantly head for our flight back to the cruel reality.


Blogger liwei said...

So crowded on the Great Wall!

9:48 PM  

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