Sunday, 11 February 2018

Beijing part three - other stuff

Taken before the mountain of share-bikes appeared on the scene 

Market and eating street off the main tourist walking street in Beijing

Live scorpions on a stick - oh goodie

Large and interesting tourist oriented walking and eating street very close to Tiananmen Square, we had Pekin Duck here three times at the same restaurant last time (Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant 全聚德烤鸭店(前门店) 30 Quanment street, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing ) but could not get a table this time - we settled for a small joint adjacent and encountered the most off-hand service - something which is not common in China. Moral of the story when it come to Peking Duck stick to the big well know places. 
We did make up for it the next night when a friend took us to a better place.

 Shenyang Gate  (below)  

Next to our hotel was the St Joseph's Wangfujing Church. There are two things I found interesting about this one is that churches are not really that evident in China or Christianity but there is definitely a desire to have white fluffy western style weddings - I counted six before 10am with taxi stacked up, production style.

One of six before 10am !!  

Beijing part 2 Yuanmingyuan Park

The Old Summer Palace know in Chinese as Yuanming Yuan ("Gardens of Perfect Brightness") and originally called the Imperial Gardens was a complex of palaces and gardens located 8km northwest of the walls of the former Imperial City section of Beijing.

Constructed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries centuries it was the main Imperial residence of Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty and his successors with the Forbidden City only used for formal ceremonies.

In 1860 during the Second Opium War the French and British troops were responsive for extensive looting and destruction of the Palace. This wasn't helped when it was discovered that the Chinese had imprisoned, tortured and killed 20 of the party sent by the British and French to negotiate peace - they went back and burnt and demolished the Palace. Wikipedia

As a result of the damage done in 1860 the gardens have never been restored as it being deemed rather too difficult,  expensive and forms part of the recent cultural heritage of China.

We took a train to the park and caught a taxi back, neither was expensive - the park is huge so allow plenty of time. We left right on closing time as you can see from the photo below - thats the sun in the Beijing air pollution - it is as bad as people say and while tolerable from a tourist standpoint and not so bad on this day I would not want to spend a lifetime breathing their air.

 In 2005 many of the ponds were cleaned out and given liners to slow water loss although this was controversial - see Wiki article

Some restoration taking place

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Second visit to Beijing Part 1 The National Museum.

On our first visit to Beijing we had covered off a lot of the "bucket list items" , the wall, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and eaten our bodyweight of the best Peking Duck I've ever had but we ran out of time so put Beijing down for a second look over and in particular I had the National Museum very much on my to-do list.

So you thought it was quite a process getting on an overseas flight with all the security, (?) well double that and you have the National Museum - I could only assume at the time this was because all the really good stuff is here. To be fair I haven't seen the big European or British Museums but the Chinese National is a mind bender of the most beautifully intricate artefacts imaginable.

Its really easy to find as its on the eastern side of Tiananmen Square.

Gold inlay on bronze 

Tiny gold figures 


 It was the bronze-work that really stunned me 

Gold inlayed creature 

Detail from above vessel 

Further detail - how is this possible in a bronze casting?

These (below) were in the very beautiful gift shop and seemed typical of our museum gift shops - well stocked with quality items (for a price) 

I think (above and below) this might have been the first ever "paper" money.

On the way from a day at the museum absolutely starving - fruit on a stick - I found it a bit on the bitter side but no ill-effects. We walked 14,670 steps that day most of them in the museum !!