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Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for Beijing, China

Apr 21, 2015 - Home again

Our final morning in China, up early and ready to go. We've had a wonderful sampling of China, south to north. We've seen coconut palms and monkeys on the South China Sea, weirdly beautiful karst landscapes on the Li River, thousands of terracotta warriors stretched out in formation at the tomb of the ruthless first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. We've seen glorious remnants of Beijing's fascinating history--Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Great Wall and old Beijing's innumerable hutong alleyways. We have sampled specialties all along the...

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Northern China 2015

Apr 20, 2015 - Olympic Park - Modern Beijing

We left the Summer Palace and headed toward the 798 Art District, by way of the modern ring road. Heavy traffic, lots of large, modern buildings including the IBM Building (aka Pangu Plaza), built in a series of 5 towers to resemble a dragon's head and body. Stopped at the Olympic Village for a chance to see the Bird's Nest, the Water Cube, and other buildings used in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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Northern China 2015

Apr 20, 2015 - Beijing Parks

Many parks in China charge a small admission fee. Most were pretty crowded in April. Flowering trees were at their peak. The atmosphere varied from park to park. Jihan Park, just north of the Forbidden City, has one of the few tall hills in Beijing. It was built from soil dug up to form the Forbidden City's moat. Beihai Park and Houhai Park feature large lakes with lots of bars and cafes spread along the shorelines. Every large site has some type of parkland nearby. The Summer Palace is on the shore of beautiful Lake Kunming with its...

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Northern China 2015

Apr 20, 2015 - Chinese Art

So much wonderful art! We saw Chinese landscape scrolls, elaborate Ming and Qing style painted architecture, elaborate jade and stone carvings of all sizes, calligraphy carved in stone or painted in ink and, sometimes, ephemeral characters painted on pavement with water and large brushes, Tang tri-color glazed figures, Qin and Han terracotta figures, translucent Song-era ceramic bowls, folk art of the Zhuang and Miao (silver jewelry, batiks, weaving, embroidery, traditional clothing), religious art in ancient temples, and contemporary...

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Northern China 2015

Apr 20, 2015 - 798 Art District

Walked through the 798 Art District, an area of converted factories. Bought small plate in the form of a Chinese Opera mask at a great little gallery called The Soul Collection. Walked past contemporary outdoor sculptures, pricey cafes and trendy shops and peeked into a huge factory bay cleared and ready for conversion to gallery space. Year of the Goat themed exhibition was especially good. Looking for the public toilet, we walked through an alley where construction workers were taking a meal break. As always, we were surprised to detect...

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Northern China 2015

Apr 20, 2015 - Summer Palace

Our last day in Beijing was a great one. Up at 5:30, breakfast room full of Europeans (German, Dutch). Candy and Mr. Li O drove us out to the Summer Palace, NW of the city. In Imperial times, the Emperor and his court stayed here every April through October to escape the heat. Palace and grounds are four times larger than the Forbidden City. Opted to tour the Opera House of the Dowager Empress CiXi. Three story structure (lucky number 3) with lifts and channels for water effects. CiXi ruled for 40 years until her death in 1908. Hated by the...

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Northern China 2015

Apr 20, 2015 - Beijing Hutong Life

Peter Hessler's essay "Hutong Karma" from his 2013 book Strange Stones: "For the past five years, I've lived about a mile north of the Forbidden City, in an apt bldg off a tiny alleyway in downtown Beijing. My alley has no official name, and it begins in the west, passes through three 90 degree turns, and exits to the south....The alley is also distinctive because it belongs to one of the few surviving sections of Old Beijing. The capital, like all Chinese cities nowadays, has been changing fast--the biggest local map publlisher updates its...

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Northern China 2015

Apr 19, 2015 - Lama Temple

Took subway to Lama Temple, an active temple and second largest lamasary in China. Home to many Tibetan Buddhist monks. Some act as guards in buildings housing Buddha figures and shrines including the Maitreya Buddha, a 26 foot tall Buddha listed in the Guiness Record Book as the largest existing statue carved from a single piece of sandalwood. The complex was crowded with many devotees praying, lighting incense, and spinning prayer wheels. The temple was built in 1694, during the Qing Dynasty. The architecture combines Chinese and Tibetan...

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Northern China 2015

Apr 19, 2015 - Confusius Temple - Old Beijing

Crossed the street from the Buddhist Lama Temple to the Confusius Temple, established in 1302 (Ming dynasty) by followers of Confusius (born 551 BC). Second largest Confucian temple in China. Unlike the Lama Temple, this is not a working temple. But it does house the Imperial Academy on its grounds. Students study Chinese Opera and traditional music. We watched a lovely performance by Academy students on an outdoor stage. This four-courtyard complex was much less crowded than the Lama Temple and felt very tranquil and spacious. Like other...

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Northern China 2015

Apr 18, 2015 - Forbidden City

Walked around the corner to Ping An'Li subway station and bought two Yikatong cards. Trips on this extensive, modern, fast, safe and easy-to-use subway system cost only two yuan (36 cents). Emerged at Tienanmen Square into a humid haze. Many people wore surgical masks. Nowhere to sit--not even one bench! (Maybe they don't want people to gather.) The attached photo of Tienenmen Square shows the building (on the right) where Mao's body lies in state. Lots of Chinese stand in long lines to view his remains. Crossed the street to the Gate of...

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Northern China 2015

Apr 18, 2015 - The Great Wall and other fun things.

18 April 15 Up at 0530 today to get to the Great Wall before the crowds, sorry about that, when we got there at around 8:15 there were already crowds there. We were allocated 2.5 hrs to satisfy our GW needs, Carol and I got half way and called it quits simply because the steps are so uneven; one is 380 tall, the next 100mm then back to 300 ad infinitum…. The Great wall is simply magic though, photos don’t do it justice and superlatives fail to describe the experience especially as an 80 year old races past you…. By the time I had done...

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Apr 17, 2015 - Tiananmen Sq

17 April 15 Today was Tiananmen Sq. It’s simply massive and exceedingly crowded, because I am a foreigner with a grey beard I get photographed many times and I wonder what will happen to the pictures, Facebook is not available here so I will only get onto the Chinese version. The famous photo of the man in front of the tank is still a very sensitive issue and we were asked not to discuss it. One of our group had to stop a garbage truck in similar style and the Men in Black (with dark glasses to conceal their identity) who seemed to follow...

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