21.01.2010 - 03.02.2010 -5 °C
Beijing (北京), also known as Peking, is a metropolis in northern China and the capital of the People's Republic of China. Beijing is China's second largest city after Shanghai, with more than 17 million people in Beijing's area of jurisdiction.
Fully loaded with some snacks and two big bags, we began our trip towards this marvelous city on our good-for-nothing planet, met our third companion at railway station and hastily got on the train. Here we go. Journey is started!
Thousands of Chinese. Soon is Chinese New Year, that's why all them people are in hurry to back home.
Unlike Russian trains, Chinese carriages have three storeys of sleepers. Sounds disgusting, but actually not that bad as it seems.
We three had a good sound sleep on train. And, frankly, that's very unusual for me. I'm kind of person who is hard to fall asleep in crowded public environments.
In the morning we were at Beijing Railway Station.
Not very tired, but rather interested to find a place to put up at.
Sarah is her English name. The rarest girl I ever met in China, who I'm not going to describe a lot at this blog. I can pour out my thanks towards her long long time for all she had done for me and us in this trip, but I prefer to show my gratitude in an intimate atmosphere, face-to-face.
We found this place... nope. More precisely put, Sarah found this place online, and I barely could believe we really can have such a nice place for the money they charge us. In Beijing. That's quite far from city center, but public transport works really properly in Beijing. That's one of the reason I loved this city. So, we had a nice place to stay less than couple hours after we reached the capital of the Celestial Empire. Here we gonna stay for next 12 days.
Next morning we have a simple, but delicious breakfast. Mom cooked some Russian 'blinni's for us. Yum-yum.
Without losing a moment, we left our apartment and moved to a place, that needn't any representation for Chinese people, people who have something in common with China, and others also should ever heard of this place in their life before.
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost five centuries, it served as the home of the Emperor and his household, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.
Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms and covers 720,000 sq m (7,800,000 sq ft). The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Finishing firsthand acquaintance with Forbidden Palace, we headed for Jingshan Park.
Jingshan (景山, literally "Prospect Hill") is an artificial hill in Beijing, China. Covering an area of more than 230,000 m², and spans across both the Xicheng District and the Dongcheng District, Jingshan is also immediately north of the Forbidden City on the central axis of Beijing. Originally an imperial garden, it is now a public park, known as Jingshan Park (景山公园).
The 45.7-metre high artificial hill was constructed in the Yongle era of the Ming Dynasty entirely from the soil excavated in forming the moats of the Imperial Palace and nearby canals. It is especially impressive when one considers that all of this material was moved only by manual labor and animal power. Jingshan consists of five individual peaks, and on the top of each peak there lies an elaborate pavilion. These pavilions were used by officials for gathering and leisure purposes. These five peaks also draws the approximate historical axis of central Beijing.
After a lunch, we continued our pedestrian daytime trip, making our way towards 北海公園.
Beihai Park (北海公園) is an imperial garden to the northwest of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Initially built in the 10th century, it is amongst the largest of Chinese gardens, and contains numerous historically important structures, palaces and temples. Prior to the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 this area was connected to the Forbidden City, but since 1925 it has been open to the public.
The Bai Ta (White Dagoba) is a 40 m high stupa placed on the highest point on Qiónghuá Island. Its body is made of white stone. Sun, moon and flame engravings decorate the surface of the tower. Destroyed in 1679 by an earthquake, it was rebuilt the following year, and restored again in in 1976, because of an earthquake which occurred at Tangshan City, near Beijing City. A reliquary, secreted inside the structure are Buddhist Scriptures, monk's mantles and alms bowl, and the bones of monks (their remains after cremation).
Next destination, before going home, Tian'anmen Square.
On the way we tried some Chinese sweet potato. Too sweet, but good
Here we bought some souvenirs. Peking Opera masks.
Theirs' creator is attraction himself
The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) (国家大剧院, literally: National Grand Theatre), and colloquially described as The Egg, is an opera house in Beijing, People's Republic of China. The Centre, an ellipsoid dome of titanium and glass surrounded by an artificial lake, seats 5,452 people in three halls and is almost 12,000 m² in size. It was designed by French architect Paul Andreu. Construction started in December 2001 and the inaugural concert was held in December 2007.
Be honestly, I did expect more of Tian'anmen Square. Now I know many people say like this. It didn't look as huge and grand, as they make people think about it. At least for me and us.
Day number two.
世界公园 or Beijing World Park.
Beijing World Park is a theme park that attempts to give visitors the chance to see the world without having to leave Beijing. The park covers 46.7 hectares and is located in the southwestern Fengtai District of Beijing. It is about 17 km from Tiananmen, the City center, and 40 km from the Capital International Airport. The park opened in 1993 and is estimated to receive 1.5 million visitors annually.
The Great Wall of China
Well, that's really something what need no introduction.
Unlike Tian'anmen, Great Wall really impressed me and us by its scale and grandness.
Temple of Heaven, Peking Duck
The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven (天坛) is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing, in Xuanwu District. 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.
Peking Duck is a famous duck dish from Beijing that has been prepared since the imperial era, and is now considered one of China's national foods.
The dish is prized for the thin, crispy skin, with authentic versions of the dish serving mostly the skin and little meat, sliced in front of the diners by the cook. Ducks bred specially for the dish are slaughtered after 65 days and seasoned before being roasted in a closed or hung oven. The meat is often eaten with pancakes, spring onions, and hoisin sauce or sweet bean sauce. The two most notable restaurants in Beijing which serve this delicacy are Quanjude and Bianyifang, two centuries-old establishments which have become household names.
Sarah was crying and weeping bitterly, asking me to give her a day off. Unlike us, weariless tourists, she needed a rest.
Well, ok, no problem. She had no chance to see a "Ailuropoda melanoleuca", as we were heading for Beijing Zoo.
On the way to zoo, we saw this bicycle again.
Now we are in the zoo.
The Giant Panda is a bear native to central-western and south western China. It is easily recognized by its large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the Giant Panda's diet is 99% bamboo. Other parts of its diet include honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, and bananas when available.
Then we inadvertently left zoo and entered The Five Pagoda Temple (五塔寺).
The Five Pagoda Temple (Wǔ Tǎ Sì), formally known as the "Temple of the Great Righteous Awakening" (大真觉寺) or "Zhenjue Temple" (真觉寺) for short, is a Buddhist temple from the era of the Ming Dynasty located in the city of Beijing, China.
The temple has a square foundation, the "diamond throne", that stands 7.7 metres (25 ft) tall. The foundation can be accessed through a spiral staircase and supports five pagodas and a glazed pavilion. Each of the pagodas has a rectangular floor plan. Four of the pagodas are positioned on the corners of the foundation (one pagoda on each corner), the fifth pagoda stands in the center. The five pagodas are associated with the Five Dhyani Buddhas. The corner pagodas have 11 layers of eaves, whereas the slightly taller central pagoda has 13 layers. The total hight of the structure from its base to the tip of the central pagoda is 17 metres (56 ft).The building is constructed from brick and white marble, but the building has taken a rusty color due to the oxidation iron traces in the stone. All four walls of the foundations are decorated with carving of the one thousand sagacious Buddhas arranged in rows as well as Buddhist symbols (such as dharma wheels), animals (elephants and peacocks) and floral designs (bodhi trees), as well as Sūtra texts.
We quited Beijing Zoo from the west gates, where is quite rare to see tourists. That was the reason they almost don't check tickets. Our plan for a day was completed, but that still was too early to go home, so we made our mind to return to zoo. At the entrance we just showed them old used tickets, and I said "不好意思， 我们迷路了", what means we got lost and want to find another exit. They let us in.
Here we go. We went to see some vermigrades.
At the exit