China tour – 2
On the evening of 4th Sep. we left Xian for Beijing by a local flight. In the flight we did not get anything to eat as they have not been advised of special meals, vegetarian, for us. But the airlines staff had been kind enough to pass on yoghurt and fruit from their rations. This suited us also as we had packed ready food which we could take in the hotel at Beijing along with this yoghurt and fruit, as dinner.
Walking along the square we proceeded to the Forbidden City, as the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to Qing dynasty i.e. from 1420 to 1912, is called. It is located in the centre of Beijing and now houses the Palace Museum. The complex consists of 980 buildings and covers over 180 acres and is now a World Heritage Site. During the cultural revolution in the 1960s, Premier Chou en Lai took special efforts to guard the City from being destroyed by the the Red Guards. We later visited the Temple of Heaven, the temple where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasty would worship the God and pray for good harvest. We also watched this day a Chinese musical play “The Golden Mask Dynasty” which was excellent. The play featured brilliant Chinese dances, acrobatics, costumes, lighting and acoustics and included more than 200 actors.
The next morning we visited the famous Great wall of China, which is a World Heritage Site. The Great Wall of China is the world's longest wall and biggest ancient architecture. The Great Wall is more than 2,300 years old and more than 13000 miles long. It was built mainly during the three dynasties – Qin Dynasty, Han Dynasty and Ming Dynasty. The Great Wall is not a continuous line; there are side walls, circular walls, parallel walls and sections with natural barriers like high mountains. We went to Juyong pass section of the Great Wall, also known as Juyongguan Great Wall, which is the closest section of the Great wall to Beijing. The rugged mountain scenery is beautiful and the fort and perimeter wall has been renovated and well maintained. We did not climb to the fort at the top and returned midway. Only a few in the tour group ventured to climb to the top. On our way back we stopped at a Jade exhibition and a traditional enamelware factory, known as Cloisonne factory.
After the Hutong Life tour we retired to the hotel for the final night of stay in Beijing. We stayed here three nights in the hotel, Ramada Beijing North. The hotel was not to our liking as it was not centrally located and there was no mall or convenience store located near it. The national guide, Leo, who received us at the Beijing airport and stayed with us till the end of tour, helped us by getting us a box of yoghurt containing 8 cartons, which we made use with the ready food we brought from Sydney as dinner in two nights of stay here. Photos taken in Beijing can be seen in the Flickr album “ Beijing, China” @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/sam-sekar/albums/72157698374525032