THE FORBIDDEN CITY – BEIJING CHINA

BEIJING CHINA DAY ONE – FLIGHT VIA ALASKA & SIBERIA -THE SUMMER PALACE – GIANT PANDAS

If you want to attract crowds, just say the word, ‘forbidden.’  It all started in the book of Genesis in the Holy Bible, where we read about the ‘forbidden fruit.’  Mankind has been in search of the ‘forbidden’ ever since!

With this thought, I begin, telling my story with photos and narrative,  of my visit to Beijing, China and the ‘Forbidden City.  ‘

Traveling to China, is not easy.  To visit Beijing and the Forbidden City requires a long tiring flight for the  U. S. visitor to this Asian city.  A flight over the frozen wilderness of  Alaska and Siberia.

(CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE)

ALASKA

We are now flying over Alaska.  It is beautiful.  The mountains are covered with Snow and we can even see huge glaciers between the mountains stretching toward the sea.

ALASKA'S WINDING RIVERS

It is fascinating the way the Alaska’s rivers twist and turn as they sprawl across the flat lands and between the mountains.

Alaskan Shore Line

When we cross the Bering straight, the day will change from Sunday to Monday, even though it is broad daylight out.

INTERNATIONAL DATE LINE BETWEEN ALASKA AND SIBERIA

We are fast approaching the Bering straight, and will soon be over Siberia.  When we cross the straight, the day will change from Sunday to Monday, even though it is broad daylight out.  The sun is following us all the way to Beijing.  We will have a day with 22-23 hours of sunlight, assuming the sun rises at 6 and sets at 6.

 

APPROACHING SIBERIA

FROZEN OCEAN BETWEEN SIBERIA AND CHINA

APPROACHING RUSSIAN COASTLINE

SPEED 552 MPH 35000 FT -67 DEGREES

NEARING THE COAST OF MAINLAND CHINA

APPROACHING CHINA

WE ARE NOW 1267 MILES FROM BEIJING

4864 MILES FROM THE USA!

APPROACHING BEIJING CHINA

We are getting close to our destination – Beijng.

APPROACHING BEIJING CHINA

APPROACHING BEIJING CHINA

PASSENGERS EAGERLY AWAIT PERMISSION TO EXIT THE PLANE

BEIJING AIRPORT TERMINAL

ARRIVAL OF PASSENGERS AT THE BEIJING AIRPORT TERMINAL
Travelers have an opportunity to exchange their currency for Chinese currency (yuan) at the airport terminal, near the baggage pick up area.

CHINESE CURRENCY - YUAN

ONE HUNDRED YUAN IS ABOUT 15 US DOLLARS

In the same area, near the restrooms, is a kiosk to purchase a SIM card for your unlocked GSM phone. The cost is only $33 for 100 minutes of call time to the U.S.   My MOBAL Sim card costs  $2.50 a minute, so the Chinese SIM card is a bargain.

 

The Tian Tang Guang Hotel is vacant, and is located next to our hotel.Our hotel for the next week - The Mariott City Wall Hotel. What remains of the old city wall is next to our hotel, thus its name - the Beijing Mariott City Wall Hotel.

After a good night’s rest, we started the day out with a fabulous breakfast buffet.  There wasn’t anything really exotic on the buffet, but it was very good.  The chef’s scrambled an omelet to our specifications, with onions, bacon bits, cheese, and peppers.  Also a selection of coffees, juices,  and fruits and pastries  awaited our selection,  along with  sausage, bacon and American cereals.
As much as we would like to stay in the restaurant and eat until noon and then eat again, all good things must come to an end.  Our next stop,  is our first tourist attraction – the SUMMER PALACE.
There are many high rise apartments in Beijing.  All apartments have their own air conditioners, rather than central air.
Beijing has many unusual buildings.  And many usual buildings!
Click on any of these photos to enlarge them!

Many Beijing office buildings are built of glass.

Enormous LCD Screens are everywhere in Beijing.

It is common to see many 3 wheel bikes, which serve as delivery vehicles for passengers and merchandise. None have gasoline engines, but may be pedal powered or have an electric motor.

Unusual structures - purpose unknown.These buildings are not far from the Olympic Stadium.

Well, enough photos of streets and buildings.
The destination of the Summer Palace is what we set out to find, and I will tell about it next.
The Summer Palace complex is actually named literally “Gardens of Nurtured Harmony” in Chinese, but missionaries named it the ‘Summer Palace,’  I guess because it was easier to say than the Chinese name.
The Summer Palace started out life as the Garden of Clear Ripples in 1750.  It is made up of a hill and lake, plus some buildings (palaces) , buildings and an ornately painted half mile long covered walkway.
Kunming Lake was entirely man made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill.
This park was damaged by  the Anglo-French allied invasion of 1860 , and the boxer Rebellion,  in an attack by the eight allied powers in 1900. The garden  was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902.
It served as a summer resort for the ‘Dragon Lady’ Empress Cixi, who diverted funds designated for the Chinese Navy to repair and enlarge the Summer Palace.

Our tour group approaches the entrance to the Summer Palace. Our excellent tour guide, Steven holds the flag.

Stephen our excellent tour guide. For his website go to: http://www.reliabletourguides.com

Steven Lu Jin Li, our tour guide, speaks very good English and is very personable.  He never visited the US.  Before his marriage,  he tried to get a visa, but US officials were concerned that he wouldn’t leave the U.  S.  so  his visa request was denied.  He hopes to visit the U. S. with his family some day.  He and his wife, Tracy Hu have a 19 month old son.

Steven has a website on which tourists  can choose individual tour guides.  The site is www.reliabletourguides.com and is full of interesting information about travel in China.

Steven is 36 and has an interesting story.  His father’s  Red Guard unit was defeated early during the Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976.  His family was sent to the countryside in 1976 for ‘purification and re-education.’   When he was 2 years old his family was allowed to return to their home town.  The government realized that some had been unfairly punished due to the excesses during this period of time.  So the government reimbursed his father for lost wages during their exile to the country side.  He used this money to purchase a home, and his former government job was restored.

Steven has lived in the countryside on a communal farm, in a small town, and now the big city.  He speaks English and Mandarin.  When he visits Hong Cong, he feels ‘foreign’  because he must speak English, since only English and Cantonese are spoken there, and he doesn’t speak Cantonese.

Steven discussed the good and bad of the Cultural Revolution.  It got rid of the good and bad in their culture, and wiped the slate clean for China.  The purging process allowed the government to implement many changes that would not have been possible under the old rules, but they also lost a lot of their ancient traditions.

In 1995, due to housing reform, housing was privatized.  When the government embraced capitalism, it privatized  government owned and run industries.  Government officials decided who were the new owners of these industries.  Corporations were quickly created, sometimes by relatives of the government official.  As a result, the former the industries were transferred to many government official’s’ families, thus family wealth was quickly created.   This is seen as corruption.

Prior to government reforms, everyone worked for the government.  Now only 5% of the people work for the government.

Steven does not work for the government.  He works for a private company called Destination China for the last 13 years as a tour guide.

His wife Traci works as a tour guide too and as an English tutor.  They have a nanny to help care for their 19 month old son.

They are compliant with China’s one child policy.  If they  have a second child, they would pay a $17000 fine.  If they lived in south China,  (Shang Hai area) the  fine would increase to $34,000.  If the fine is not paid, then the child would have not have any rights as a Chinese citizen.

When a couple is married, they are given a certificate which allows them to have one child.  Exceptions are made for twins and triplets, and for couples who are children of parents having only one child.  Children born out of wedlock have no rights as citizens.


This watch tower/fort is named the WENCHANG TOWER - built in 1750 and destroyed in 1860 by Anglo French forces and then rebuilt again.

This is a man made lake (Kunming Lake) and the excavated dirt was used to build Longevity Hill which you see in this photo, overlooking the lake.

Longevity Hill - built from excavated dirt from the man made lake.

The Long Corridor - an ornately painted covered half mile long walk way, leading to the Mable Boat.

The Long Corridor - an ornately painted covered walk way, leading to the Marble Boat.

Close up of painting on wall of the Long Corridor.

Close up of painting on the Long Corridor

Close up of painting on wall of the Long Corridor.

The Long Corridor roof

The Long Corridor ceiling.
Painting in the Long Corridor.

Close up of painting in the Long Corridor.

Ornate arch at the Summer Palace, Beijing China

Arched bridge at the Summer Palace.

Couples enjoying a dance on a cold Beijing day at the Summer Palace.

On our way back to the tour bus, local vendors urge us to buy their  merchadise at the Summer Palace.


PHOTO ABOVE – STREET VENDORS URGE US TO BUY THEIR WARES AND WE WALK TO OUR BUS.

NEXT STOP – THE BEIJING ZOO.

Beijing Zoo Subway entrance

Beijing Zoo Entrance

Toy Panda Exhibit Sign at the Beijing Zoo Entrance

Beijing Zoo Entrance Display of Toy Pandas

Beijing Zoo Panda House

Giant Panda Beijing Zoo

TH WORLD FAMOUS GIANT PANDAS.  THEY EAT AND SLEEP, AND  …. EAT AND SLEEP.

Giant Panda Beijing Zoo

Click on photo to enlarge to read text of this plaque.

DAY TWO – THE GREAT WALL –  NEXT!!!

But first, let me discuss a little about what we have learned about China’s political system.  As you know, China has a one party system.  Well that is not quite right  right.  It isn’t that simple.  China has a number of officially recognized political parties which have the role as ‘advisors’ to the government.  Their constitution mandates that they each are represented in their congress, according to the number of votes they receive.  But they cannot vote, only advise.  the Communist party is the ruling party, and representatives are elected by the people.  Voters chose the person best suited to do the job.  There are no ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ candidates as in our elections.

Land ownership  in China is interesting also.  Land in China belongs to the government, but the government allows citizens to use the land for 70 years.  They can ‘buy and sell’ this right, and its value decreases as the 70th year approaches.  No one knows what will happen on the 70th year.  The Communist regime has been in control only 50 years, so there is about 2o years left before they have to decide what to do next.  They pay no property tax on the land they use.  In the U. S. we may buy property, but we pay property tax, which is a form of  ‘rent’ paid to our  government.  If we don’t pay the property tax, the government will sell ‘our land’ to someone else, to pay the unpaid tax (government rent).

And now to the Great Wall of China, built between 2800 years ago to 1500 AD.  Much of it is in disrepair or completely buried by sand storms.  Much of what survives has been repaired and is made of bricks and rock.  The original wall was not all made of rock and bricks, but of earth, gravel and wood, subject to deterioration.

It is an urban legend, or myth that the Great Wall can be seen from the Moon or outer space.  To see the wall from the Moon  would be the equivalent of  seeing a human hair from 2 miles away, which requires eyesight that is 17,000 better than 20/20 vision!

We traveled by bus to a portion of the Great Wall which was a few miles north west of Beijing.  As we approached the mountain we could see the walk ways and guard towers in the distant.  Guard towers on the high points, were used as signal towers.  One smoke signal would alert the army that they were under attack by 500,  two smokes signals indicating 1000 enemy were advancing, an so on, so that military reinforcements could be sent to counter the attack effectively.

THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA

A very steep and challenging climb awaits us!

STEEP STEPS TO THE WATCH TOWER OF THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA

CLIMBING THE GREAT WALL

With great difficulty we climbed to the first watch tower on very slippery, steep, uneven stone steps.  On the right in the black overcoat and black cap, Hans climbs the Great Wall.

Hans – far left – pauses to catch his breath.

We are greeted by a ‘NO CLIMBING’ sign on the watch tower!

'Don't Climb' Sign on side of watch tower of the Great Wall

Inside the watch tower we can see the Great Wall in the distance!

VIEW OF THE GREAT WALL FROM A WATCH TOWER WINDOW

CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE.

CLICK ON THIS PHOTO TO ZOOM IN ON THE GREAT WALL WINDING ITS WAY ACROSS THE MOUNTAINS.

TOURISTS CAREFULLY CLIMBING DOWN THE STEEP STEPS

The left side of the steps were covered with snow making it difficult and even dangerous to descend.  The right side was full of tourists climbing up.  So I hung onto the railing and slid down on the snow packed steps on the left.

DANGER - NO CLIMBING!

She gives me a relieved smile, having successful reached the bottom of the steps without falling!

OUR FINAL VIEW OF THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA AS WE LEAVE FOR OUR NEXT ADVENTURE!

One Response to “THE FORBIDDEN CITY – BEIJING CHINA”

  1. […] Katzenmeier’s Weblog A JOURNEY IN WORDS AND PHOTOS « THE FORBIDDEN CITY – BEIJING CHINA […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: