Category Archives: Beijing, China

Beijing, China Part 3

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Beijing, China Part 3

On the grounds of the Temple, in front of the gates, people were playing games, and there was a class of kids drawing the Temple. We found the teacher, too.

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We even found a bunch of women knitting and crocheting.

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First we found ourselves at a Silk Factory. We saw how the process of making silk works. Silk is extremely strong and versatile. You can make duvets out of silk, or clothes or fine bed linens. You can see how they stretch the silk fibers over screens to strengthen them.. Eventually they can be pulled like strudel dough for producing a quilt.

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We barely made it back to the ship, getting there just 15 minutes before All Aboard. On the way we saw many more cities being built.

A last look at Beijing.

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Our little group!

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Thank you so very much, Marianne for arranging this great excursion! (She’s the one in the middle sitting on the ground in the purple hoodie).

Our next stop – Shanghai.

Stay tuned……….

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Beijing, China Part 2

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Beijing, China Part 2

Some background and history:

The Forbidden City (called that because only the Emperor and his family were allowed inside) was built between 1406 and 1420. Followed by the Temple of Heaven and Tiananmen Square. Mao Zedong (aka Chairman Mao) is buried in Tiananmen Square, and people line up for hours to walk past his embalmed body, either to worship him or to make sure he is dead!

There must have been hundreds of thousands of people in the Square and the Forbidden City. Even the guide said he never saw so many people. A few days before we got to the Forbidden City it was reported that 182,000 people passed through it on that specific day.

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To cross the road you had to go under a tunnel, and here is everyone coming out of the tunnel leading to the Forbidden City.

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The Gate to the Forbidden City with Mau Zedong’s picture.

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China is full of gates.. Gates lead to gates that lead to more gates.

The Forbidden City is all about gates. One gate leads to another, that leads to another. The Emperor was basically paranoid and believed that having gates (and he also had a moat) would make it difficult for someone to approach without being seen.

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Flowers in Tiananmen Square

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The Military was everywhere

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The Chinese Emperor also kept concubines, so many that he didn’t remember who they were. They had separate apartments around the compound, with eunuchs watching all of them. The ground of the city was laid with bricks, 17 layers of bricks so that nothing could penetrate. He also didn’t have any trees or plants anywhere except in the Imperial Gardens on the North side of the compound.

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The building was built above everything else. When there were meetings with the Emperor the great big urns you see were filled with incense and smoke covered the levels so that the building looked like it was in the heavens.

The vastness of the Forbidden City, and the actual bricks from the 1400s.

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Since NO ONE was allowed into the city they had these big urns, placed all around the city, that were filled with water just in case a fire broke out. Since it gets very cold in Beijing in winter, the urns were placed on a platform that allowed the servants to build fires under the urns to prevent them from freezing.

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The Imperial Gardens had strange rock formations. The prized concubines and their families lived around the garden.

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One of the many statues in the garden.

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The moat surrounding the City.

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Once we left the Forbidden City we had lunch and visited one more temple, The Temple of Heaven. Then it would be time for SHOPPING!

Lunch was a basic Chinese Buffet, but this guy was shredding a huge glob of dough into a pot of hot water, making noodles

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The view from the Temple of Heaven.. I was kind of done with Temples altogether. Had enough, but since this Temple is built on the highest point we had some great views.

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The Gates leading to and from the Temple of Heaven.

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The Chinese are amazing craftsmen, as you can see from all the buildings. Interior of the Temple

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Beijing, China part 1 continued

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Beijing, China part 1 continued

Part 1 continues:

After the Great Wall we got back on the bus and went for a tea ceremony… and got ourselves a PeePee Boy.. What’s a PeePee Boy, you might ask??? Do you see right in the middle of the tray a little terra cotta statue of a boy? Well, as we were shown the correct way to prepare and serve tea, we were told to make sure that the water was just the right temp. The girls showing us brought out this little statue and poured cold water on it., but the water just poured right off. However, if you pour boiling water (or just under boiling) on the statue, it would pee — and then you would know that the water temperature was just right.. Well, aren’t they clever.. You couldn’t buy just the “PeePee Boy” – you got him free if you purchased a certain amount of tea..

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We then took the bus into Beijing City proper, actually the old section of town, which is in the heart of downtown near a lovely (man-made) lake where there are still old houses that reflect the way the Chinese used to live. Our guide explained how there are now 2 different kinds of ways to live in Beijing. The old way is where people live in small compounds that house small individual rooms (separate kitchen, bedrooms, common room and courtyard) where community is still a big part of life, where everyone knows everyone and everyone helps everyone. The new way is where people move into one of the big complexes springing up everywhere, where you can buy (for 70 years) a condo and live on the 27th floor and not know anyone in the building.. This sounds similar to many places in the USA (New York, Miami, LA , etc.). We were invited to one of these types of home while the daughter-in-law was preparing dinner.

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I really have to thank Jim and Wools for allowing me to post their pictures on the blog..

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The little white tag on the left hand side of the house lets you know that this is a government house. Which means that the person who owns the house works for the government. The shape of the 2 pillars in the front of the house lets you know if he/she is an engineer or a civil worker. Rounded means engineer, and square would be civil worker.

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Typical streets in the old part of town…

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From there we went to an Acrobatic Show.. The acrobats were fantastic..

I took some videos that I can’t post while I am not online, and they would take forever to load so I will post the videos I took once we get back to civilization.. So stay tuned for that..

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From there to dinner (a Peking Duck dinner) and the Prime Hotel for the night.. Before I go into what the hotel was like, I want to post some photos of Beijing at night..

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Back to the hotel, which was fantastic.. The rooms were huge, and the linens were PERFECT.. anyone who knows me, knows that the bedding is EXTREMELY important to me, and this bedding was top notch.. If I could have packed up and taken the duvet and the sheets, I would have. The bathroom was all Carrera marble, and there was both a bathtub and a separate shower. I would have loved to pick up the whole room and bring it aboard the ship! We had such fun looking at the English translation of things all over Beijing.. But the hotel room had some real doozies.

They provided almost everything complimentary, 2 toothbrushes, 2 sewing kit, 2 shower caps, 2 of every soap, shampoo and body lotion, 2 hair brushes, 2 shoe clothes.. but there were some things that were UN Complimentary and they were listed on the item as UN-complimentary.. such as condoms, and detox foot pads.. ?????

They had laundry bags and I thought of “stealing” one of them since they were folded so beautifully to show off the logo of the hotel in gold embroidery and the name of the hotel.. but once you unfold them in big gold embroidered letters was “NOT FREE”. I pulled my hand away as if I just got burned!!!!!

Dawn rising over Beijing a beautiful windy day which blew away the smog and left us with great weather for our second day

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The next morning we were greeted by the biggest breakfast buffet ever. They even put Israeli hotel breakfast buffets, which are sumptuous, to shame. It was all prepared by 6 AM for us since we were back on the tour and ready to go by 7:45 AM.

There was dim sum, fried noodles and rice, sautéed cauliflower and cabbage, a bread station with all kinds of baguettes, rolls and sliced breads, cereals (hot and cold), congee, warm milks (soy and cow’s), exotic and regular fruits, fish, dried fruits and nuts, an omelet station — and I know I am missing something..

A whole fish and carving Peking Duck tableside

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I messed up the bed then realized I forgot to take a picture.

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We piled back onto the bus and headed to Tiananmen Square. We were told we would have a 3 mile walk and were worried about it, but it turned out to be a breeze since there was just so much to see that we barely noticed the time or our feet, and the weather was perfect if not a bit cold, which was great for walking.

Part 2 to continue:

Beijing, China Part 1

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Beijing, China part 1

Part 1

As I write this blog about Beijing I just know that it will probably go on forever since we did spend 2 days and we had an overnight excursion; plus, there are tons of things to talk about. Beijing is enormous! Our guide was fantastic.. He gave us so much useless information that we now feel like if we had to live in Beijing, we probably know the rules now.

Beijing is the 3rd largest city in China after Chongqing and Shanghai. So just imagine that if Beijing is the 3rd and has over 19 MILLION PEOPLE, how many do the others have? Shanghai has 30 MILLION PEOPLE!

Beijing is the Northern Capital and is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. Most business starts in Beijing, and international flights fly into Beijing. Beijing is one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Beijing is thought to have been the largest city in the world from 1425 to 1650 and from 1710 to 1825. It is recognized as the political, educational and cultural center of China.

I went on an overnight excursion with a group from Cruise Critic. Wools and Jim were on the tour along with some other very nice people. K couldn’t make it as it was a Friday, and he would have to be back in time for Friday night services. So I was on my own. Luckily, Marianne (the organizer of the tour) found  a lovely lady for me to room with. I haven’t had a roommate in forever, but thankfully Marcia turned out to be “cool”. She is from the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and so 2 NY girls hanging out worked out well.

We arrived at the port and had to go through a serious custom rigmarole with the Chinese Port Authority. Not only did they want to see our passports but we had to have a photocopy of that same passport. We would not be allowed back on the ship without that copy, and they didn’t confiscate the copies. Strange.

Signs of Welcome to China in Chinese and English.

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Our bus was waiting for us, so we jumped on and started the trip to the Great Wall (our first stop), a 2.5 hour drive from the port.

The air was thick and the sky was totally grey. We believed it was all the pollution from all the factories.

We drove past huge cranes and skeletons of huge high rises…can you see them in the distance?   There were thousands of similar buildings being built EVERYWHERE!! and I mean EVERYWHERE!  Millions upon millions of apartments, all in the middle of construction. Basically, the Chinese are building brand new cities, and I guess they will be emptying the countryside and bringing everyone into the cities. It made no sense to me.  What are all those people going to do for work? How will they have enough food to eat it they all leave the countryside and the farms? And imagine how many more people there would be if everyone was allowed to have just one more child?????  I don’t get it!

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The buildings in the front in blue are the housing for the construction workers.

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Workers Housing

We saw these silos (?) everywhere. We were told by our guide that it provides electricity to all of the city.  Nuclear power, maybe?

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It is very difficult to take a picture of Beijing’s skyline since it is so very big.. but you will see individual towers in the business district, the older homes in the main center of town, the Olympic area buildings… but first a trip to the Great Wall.

We stopped for lunch to get energy for the climb at the wall. We arrived at the largest Jade Shop right outside of Beijing (of course, they wanted us to shop, but I don’t believe anyone did). Lunch is served family style, with a Lazy Susan placed in the middle of the table, and the servers bring food and place it on the Lazy Susan, and we all take and turn.. it was fun, actually. The pitcher in the middle holds green tea, and they served us beer or local wine.

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After lunch we headed out to the Great Wall and to the “Great Steps” of the Wall. Since the air was so bad and you really had no view, my pictures kinda look surreal.  We had some people on the tour who had trouble walking, but everyone was a trouper and really walked the Wall as best they could, climbing the stairs even though they were completely uneven and steep.

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I was pretty close to everyone when I took the pictures,but there was a haze over everything, and I didn’t want to doctor the photo. I want everyone to see just how hazy it was. The haze is not from my camera!

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Looking out over the rooftops from the Great Wall.

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JIm and Wools being silly on the Wall.. Jim is the first person to skip front and backwards on the Great Wall of China. Guinness Book of Records, are you listening???? Jim invited a fellow climber (Chinese, of course) to skip with him!

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Check!!!! Another one off the Bucket List!!!!

Beijing continues on the next post: Post 1