#19 Teaching at Taizhou Teachers College-Backpacking in Beijing - Palace & Party

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July 8th 2006
Published: November 1st 2006
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Gate of the Dispelling CloudGate of the Dispelling CloudGate of the Dispelling Cloud

Intricately painted triumphal arch leads to the climb up Longevity Hill in the Summer Palace complex. Also known as "Jade-Like Firmament in Bright Clouds". Have no idea what that's supposed to mean!
A visit to Beijing is not complete without an excursion to the Summer Palace in the far NW of Beijing. It took over an hour to arrive there through horrendous traffic, so I definitely got to see a lot more of Beijing even if it was main roads, road construction and flyovers!
A more pleasant way of getting there, is to hire a bike and follow the canal so as to miss most of the traffic. I was told that it takes about 1.5hrs- almost the same as the bus. Next time!

The area surrounding the Summer Palace had been used as a pleasure garden for centuries, when in the 1880’s, the Empress Dowager Cixi decided to substantially expand the original park, and the “new” Summer Palace was built to replace the old one that had been destroyed 20 years before. Cixi loved it so much she basically packed up her court in the Forbidden City and moved “to the country” , where she effectively ruled China for 20years until her death. Since the quick rebuild from damage following the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, the Palace has survived civil war and the Cultural Revolution to become one of Beijing’s top
Hall of Dispelling CloudHall of Dispelling CloudHall of Dispelling Cloud

Site of an ancient Ming Temple, this was rebuilt by Emperor Qianlong and renamed Temple of Gratitude for a Long Life to celebrate his mother's 60th birthday. Towering behind it is the Buddhist Fragrance Pavilion otherwise known as the Pagoda of Buddhist Virtue or Tower of Buddhist Incense. It houses a gilded bronze statue of the Guanyin Bodhisattva dating back to 1574.
tourist sites.

On the day I visited, the weather was decidedly hazy, crowds were huge and large sections were off limits for-you guessed it- restorations/renovations! Despite this it was a day well spent. From the elderly gentleman doing his Tai Chi in the Bamboo Grove, the three-tiered Grand Theatre and other magnificent structures to the cruisy little boat ride on Kunming Lake, I thoroughly enjoyed it all.

However, one increasingly annoying thing that now seems “endemic” at Chinese Scenic Spots, is the tendency to hike up entrance fees (this year many sites more than doubled their fees from the previous year) and then every time you want to do something else in the park, you pay an extra fee. I guess someone has to pay for the incredible restoration/maintenance costs, but the sheer size of the numbers involved is astonishing. I have no idea how the average Chinese family affords it.

As it was my last night in Beijing, I went out with a group of the backpackers from the Beijing Downtown Backpackers. We had a great night and tasted some good food, but can’t say I was enthralled with the toffee potatoes?! A fitting end to
Grand TheatreGrand TheatreGrand Theatre

Impressive open air 3-tiered Grand Theatre built by Cixi in the Garden of Virtue and Harmony. Cixi was passionate about Beijing Opera, and had her own ensemble of nearly 400 eunuchs to perform at her whim. The three stages were connected by trapdoors, so that characters could swoop down or rise up from the "depths" of the underworld. There was even an underground water reservoir for so-called "wet" scenes. Sounds a bit like the Colloseum, doesn't it?
my first “adventure” in and around Beijing. I will be back!

Additional photos below
Photos: 22, Displayed: 22


Ancient MusicAncient Music
Ancient Music

Music performance in the Grand Theatre featuring some enchanting ancient instruments
Dance PerformanceDance Performance
Dance Performance

Qing Dynasty dance performance at the Grand Theatre
Primary Tour GroupPrimary Tour Group
Primary Tour Group

It must have been school excursion day, as I ran into numerous groups such as these all over the complex.
Natural Affinity of Water & TreesNatural Affinity of Water & Trees
Natural Affinity of Water & Trees

Popular resting spot on the shores of Kunming Lake
Sea of Wisdom TempleSea of Wisdom Temple
Sea of Wisdom Temple

Located further up Longevity Hill behind the Pagoda of Buddhist Virtue is the imposing Sea of Wisdom Temple.The name comes from Buddhist scriptures, meaning the wisdom of the Buddha is as vast as the sea.
Boat FeatureBoat Feature
Boat Feature

Boats of numerous size and shape ply the waters of Kunming Lake. All of them sport the painstakingly intricate "fresco" paintings. These paintings are echoed along the length of the Long Corridor, a covered walkway linking different parts of the complex.
17 Arches Bridge17 Arches Bridge
17 Arches Bridge

This graceful bridge links the mainland with Nanhudao (South Lake Island) where there is the Longwangmiao (Dragon King's Temple). It is also known as Temple of Timely Rains and Extensive Moisture! I just love the names!
A Quiet Moment of ExerciseA Quiet Moment of Exercise
A Quiet Moment of Exercise

Elderly gentleman takes time out to exercise in the tranquility of the bamboo grove.

In a few weeks the lake will be covered in lotus like these.
Very Hazy View of Kunming LakeVery Hazy View of Kunming Lake
Very Hazy View of Kunming Lake

Kunming Lake takes up about 2/3 of the area of the park, giving an air of serenity to an otherwise hectic existence.

I rather liked this section of the complex as it had an air of authenticity that the newly renovated buildings just couldn't portray. Despite the magnificent colours and craftsmanship, these all looked a bit new, modern reproduction- fake. I hope they keep them in their natural state so visitors can appreciate the "before" and "after".
One World One DreamOne World One Dream
One World One Dream

Of course all this frantic renovating is preparing for the Biggest Show on Earth.
Wencheng GalleryWencheng Gallery
Wencheng Gallery

Wencheng Gallery Complex is found to the South of the entrance to the Summer Palace. It is built in the style of Qing architecture and is made up of a number of rooms housing jade, porcelain and an eclectic collection of Qing artefacts.
Reflections of BeautyReflections of Beauty
Reflections of Beauty

Elegant glass objects from the Qing Dynasty grace one of the rooms of the Wencheng Gallery complex.
Last Night OutLast Night Out
Last Night Out

Friends from around the world including (from right to left) Steve (Canadian cycling his way overland to Turkey) Julien (Frenchman working in Norway on a brief holiday), Hannah( Swedish student on summer break )myself, Oz gal (attending a medical conference), and the Lebanese guys working in Shandong Province. Talk about United Nations!
Toffee Potatoes Anyone?Toffee Potatoes Anyone?
Toffee Potatoes Anyone?

It seemed I was the only one unimpressed with this little "delicasy"

Of the three big cultural performances that every visitor to Beijing "must see", I only experienced a performance of acrobatics by a young troupe of amazing athletes. Very enjoyable. The good old Beijing Opera and Gong Fu will have to wait for another time.

3rd November 2006

A historical country!
5th November 2006

Tripping through China with you.....
Hi Treadie, It's the gang on the Gecko China Tour here. Thanks for the info on Beijing. That will come in handy when we get there next week. We have just had an amazing 3 days in Yengshuo, Li River, near Guilin. This place is heaven. Went bike riding and river cruising. Very soon we pack up and go on another exciting overnite train trip to Wuhan to start our Yangtzee River Cruise. Having a ball with everyone. Cheers! for now. Musturd and the Gang.
5th November 2006

Great Spot
This brings back fond memories of one of my favourite spots in Beijing. Lots of activities including, sailing and windsurfing on the lake and in winter - ice skating, inprompture ice hockey, and even ice wind sailing and cricket!
3rd July 2010
Toffee Potatoes Anyone?

Toffee potatoes
Had them recently in China and they were very nice. Cannot find a recipe anywhere for them though.

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