Here goes part two (part one is right here if you haven’t seen it yet). Over the next few days, we covered a lot of ground in Beijing – so that means quite a few photos as well. But you’ll understand why I took so many photos when you see how awesome these places are that we saw. Beijing has an interesting mix of old world China (what you would expect) and some crazy new architecture. Exhibit A: The Egg – below. This is the symphony hall of Beijing – you can see why they call it The Egg. It is completely surrounded by water, I think you have to go down underneath the water to get in. This is like 2 blocks from the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Quite the contrast.
And then Tiananmen Square. The largest public square in the world. We’re talking huge. It was amazing to suddenly be standing there on the square after hearing/studying about it for years. I remember hearing about it from the perspective of one of my professors at BYU who was there as a journalist when the protests/massacre took place in 1989. Right above Julie’s head in the photo below in Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum. We went in there – which was quite the experience. There are huge lines of people waiting to go in; of which pretty much every person buys the white flowers they are selling and sets them inside the mausoleum when they enter. You walk into a big room and are greeted by the frozen body of Chairmen Mao – he comes up for 2 hours a day and then is lowered back into the freezer to preserve him. It was so weird. But now I can say I have seen Mao. They love that guy.
There is a close up of it. And a video so you can see how big it is.
Right across the street from Tiananmen Square is the Forbidden City. We stood there for a few minutes while tour guides started walking up and offering their services. We waited until one came up who could speak English well and seemed competent. That man was Jon – he showed us his official tour guide license, so we decided to pay him to take us through the city (as was suggested by Dan and Ashley). This place is HUGE – it was so nice to have a tour guide cause I don’t know how else we would have known what in the world we were seeing. There are 980 buildings within the walls – and only the emperors, their families, and their servants were allowed in. They lived lavishly while the people outside the walls went through famine and struggles. hmm.
As you are walking in, you walk under this huge picture of Mao that weighs thousands of pounds and is repainted every year (I think that is what Jon said) to keep Mao looking fresh. We totally lucked out and had another sunny blue sky day.
The whole place was fixed up – touched up for the 2008 Olympics – and most of it was still looking really good.
The doorways were the most amazing part. Look at this. I wouldn’t try to get in with this guy looking at me.
Julie is a color girl. Anyone that knows her, knows that she needs to be wearing at least like 5 different colors every day. So she was (as was I) loving the vibrant color throughout the Forbidden City.
These huge vats used to be gold, but it was all scraped off by invaders. Supposedly you can rub these lions (or whatever they are) on there for good luck. This guy conveniently did so right as I was taking a photo.
One of the countless thrones that the emperor would sit on for part of the day. Those guy had some egos.
The ceiling. Can you imagine being tasked with building this place?
More cool doors.
Even the floors were amazingly beautiful.
As were the roofs.
You see what I mean about the colors. Vibrance!
The ceiling inside one of the structures.
These cute girls came up to Julie very shyly and asked if they could take a picture with her and her blond hair. It was awesome. They were super excited.
Me and Jon – pretty tall dude.
At the end of each of the rows of tiles on the roofs (see above) is the symbol of the dragon – the sign of power and domination. There are probably millions of these dragons throughout the forbidden city. Seriously – these emperors – loved their power. What an amazing place. I am sure you could spend days and days inside there and never see everything. Jerry, Ashley, and Tate met us at the gate as we came off and we headed out to get some…
Peking Duck! Wow. That was an experience. This guy brought it right over to our table and started carving it up for us. I was hoping he’d chop off the head like in Christmas Story, but this bird had already been beheaded. Watch him carve through this thing. That is seriously sharp knife.
They give you little tortilla like things, as well as sesame seed puffy rolls (that’s the name I just made up for them) and you put the duck in them with radish, cucumber, and onion (I think that is what it was) along with some sauce and eat them. This is the first time I’ve had duck. Strong stuff, but quite tasty – and come on, you can’t come to Beijing (Peking) and not eat duck right? Ashley took us to a super nice restaurant to try it out at. We felt like high rollers.
Here is the outside of the restaurant. Beauty.
From there we headed to Pearl Market. Julie’s face describes the place perfectly. SO much stuff, and some aggressive bargainers. It was actually really fun to bargain with them. This was the Pearl Market, but you could really find just about anything there. And form there we headed to the fabric market and got to see some of the less well known parts of Beijing.
There is just street after street of fabric shops in this area. This guy was cool – doing his thing.
Need a zipper?
Or a metal button?
I almost felt like I was in India right here. Craziness almost getting hit by a scooter, a bike, a car, a tuk tuk, a person, and a motorcycle all at the same time. Next, we headed to the Temple of Heaven. Which architecturally was one of my favorite spots in Beijing. As we were walking in we heard some really loud music so we went over to check it out. Look what we found: I love Asians.
There was this huge group next to them gathered around. I couldn’t see over to so I stuck my camera up there an got this shot. These guys were engaged in a serious game of I don’t know what, but it looked intense.
This is the main structure in the Temple of Heaven. The whole place, built from 1406-1420. Here is a little description of it compliments of Wikipedia. “The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It is regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese Heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism.” This goes along with the Temple of the Sun, Moon, and Earth in other parts of Beijing.
I happened onto this couple taking what I think were wedding shots. Someone on either side would throw the fabric up in the air and then run off to get out of the frame. Pretty cool if you as me.
Julie felt alive!
The other entrance to the grounds.
In case you were wondering…. this would go great on Engrish.com.
This is one of my favorite shots from the whole trip. The architecture there made it really easy to take photos.
We finished off the day going to an amazing Japanese restaurant. Holy Cow this place was amazing. And very well designed I might add (those are fish hanging from the ceiling (not real fish, but just I case you were wondering). Dan and Ashley were seriously the best hosts. They showed us the best of the best. We are definitely indebted to them for everything they did for us on this trip.
The next morning we went to church at the Beijing branch. That was a really cool experience with people from all over the world coming together to worship in the middle of Beijing. We also happened to be there on the day of the primary program, which is usually the best Sunday meeting of the year in any ward or branch. The kids were awesome. Ashley is the chorister so she was directly involved in making these kids look so great up there. From church we headed first to the Lama Temple or as I call it, so much incense you might pass out temple.
It was a series of buildings, each ornately decorated with Buddha in the middle.
This Buddha was about 30 feet tall in the biggest of the buildings.
Next, we headed to the Summer Palace. Wow.
Here’s a little piece of the Summer Palace from the UNESCO website:
During the reigns of the Qing Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong (1663-1795) several imperial gardens were created around Beijing, the last of them being the Summer Palace, based on the Hill of Longevity and Kunming Lake in the north-western suburbs of the city.
Kunming Lake (known earlier as Wengshan Pond and Xihu Lake) had been used as a source of water for irrigation and for supplying the city for some 3500 years. It was developed as a reservoir for Yuan Dadu, capital of the Yuan Dynasty, by Guo Shoujing, a famous scientist of the period, in 1291. Between 1750 and 1764 Emperor Qianlong created the Garden of Clear Ripples, extending the area of the lake and carrying out other improvements based on the hill and its landscape. It was to serve as the imperial garden for him and for his successors, Jiaqing, Daoguang, and Xianfeng.
During the Second Opium War (1856-60) the garden and its buildings were destroyed by the allied forces. Between 1886 and 1895 it was reconstructed by Emperor Guangxu and renamed the Summer Palace, for use by Empress Dowager Cixi. It was badly damaged in 1900 by the international expeditionary force during the suppression of the Boxer Rising, in which Cixi had played a significant role, and restored two years later.
The Summer Palace became a public park in 1924 and has continued as such to the present day.
So basically, this whole place was yet another place for the Emperors to live in luxury while their people did not. It did however turn into a pretty amazing park/garden.
I want to go back and waterski on that glass someday. I wonder if they’d allow it?
I love Asians. These groups reminded me of the awesome tour groups I used to see in Japan.
This long, covered walkway spanned the entire palace as I guess they didn’t like getting wet. Each of these columns spanning the entire length of the walkway had different paintings depicting the palace.
We took the hike up to the top. Look at that pretty girl I was with.
The architecture is so amazing. Everywhere you looked, whether it was the minor details, or the overall expansive buildings – it was just so precise and meticulous.
View from the top gives you an idea of how big this place was. I mean, the emperor needs all of this space right?
You can see some of Beijing off to the left there. I can’t believe how lucky we got as far as blue sky goes while we were there.
My favorite photo from the top.
On the other side of the hill there are these canals that go throughout the backside of the palace. We jumped in a little boat (great sign) and rode through the canals.
Beautiful huh? Once you get back in the canals, you come to a little village almost with restaurants/shops lining the canal on either side. We were even serenaded by the sweet sounds of the saxophone by this random guy.
I imagine that during the summer all of these place would have been open and bustling.
Great advice for anyone using a urinal.
Here I am with the one and only Jerry. This guy is so awesome. The nicest guy in the world who made us see about 10x as much of Beijing as we would have been able to if we were on the subways/taxis. He even drove us around on his day off on Sunday. For all the pushy/not so polite Chinese people we came across – Jerry was the opposite as polite and nice as they come.
That night we got to hang out with Ashley and Tate (Dan had to leave town for some classes) while eating brownie sundaes. Me and Tate had some good bonding time and we had a fantastic discussion with Ashley about education. I really hope we live close to Dan and Ashley one day because they are some good people. The next morning we woke up at 4 to get to our 6am flight from Beijing to Detroit, and then on home. What an amazing trip we had. I love Asia. It was so amazing to be in China/Hong Kong and experience the culture there. It was so interesting to compare/contrast the culture there with Japan (where I lived for two years). Now I have to get Julie to Japan. Being that close made me want to go back so badly. A special thanks to Dan and Ashley for living in China as visiting them was a driving force in deciding to take this trip.
The world it too amazing. It’s a shame that we have to spend so much of our time working countless hours in the same place and being so limited (as far as time goes) to getting out and seeing all that the world has to offer. Julie and I came back from this trip with an even stronger desire to see and experience more of the world. Now, we just need to find some time to take our next trip. You wanna come?