Monday, March 29, 2010

Silk Road Day 3: Beijing

This morning we went on a rickshaw tour to the old part of Beijing, the Hutong houses. These are traditional houses and most have been demolished to make way for high rise apartment buildings, but the Chinese government has realised the historical value of the remaining residences and is making an effort to restore and preserve those that are left.

Rickshaw copy

Hutong Alley copy

Hutong Courtyard copy

After lunch we visited the Summer Palace of the last Emperor, which was massive and insanely ornate. The Emperor used to go there in the summer (duh) to escape the oppressive heat of Beijing. It is built right next to a massive lake which contributed to the cooler temperatures, and it's still in the city itself.

Forbidden City 03 copy

Forbidden City 02

I would just like to point out that EVERYWHERE you go in Beijing, there are so many people. Millions of them, in fact. There is no escaping the crowds. That's why there are always going to be lots of people in my photos. Be warned!

Forbidden City 01

We then visited the Temple of Heaven, where the Emperor used to go once a year to pray to the gods for a good harvest for the year. Apparently he would walk from the Forbidden City to show his humility (it's about a three mile walk).

The temple was built 300 years ago but is wooden and was completely destroyed by fire in 1899, and rebuilt the following year. No nails were used in the construction, which is pretty amazing.

Temple of Heaven

The weather in Beijing has been less than impressive so far; very soggy and overcast. Not great for taking photos but I did the best I could.

Tonight we had dinner at the best restaurant in Beijing. The food was good and they did a little floorshow which was very funny, especially as they made Kendall get up and join in. Early start tomorrow for a big day: Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.

No comments: