China

This is a very late post but I didn’t want to leave my visit to China unrecorded 🙂

I had to work in Shanghai and Beijing so I took advantage to do a little sightseeing during those days but at the end of the work trip I was able to tag along my dear friends’ holiday. Ju, thanks for the amazing trip! I am putting here Ju’s full itinerary for future visits to Beijing as I was unable to join everything. Also, I am going to add a few of the things I was able to visit while visiting Beijing again Jun’14 with Emma! Only good company.

Day1: Beijing Arrival
Activity:Arrive in Beijing in the early morning. Pick up you in the airport.you will
visit Olympic Game Center Bird Nest, Water Cubic and 798 Art Distric. Yonghe Lamasery (Lama Temple)Watch Peking Opera in the evening.
The opera was interesting with different acts showcasing Chinese history. Don’t go expecting long black dresses and tuxedo as it is a tourist attraction.

Day2: Beijing 
Activity:Visit the World’s largest urban square the Tian’anmen Square, and then
ancient Chinese imperial palace the Forbidden City. Then visit the Temple of
Heaven in the afternoon. The Square and the Palace are extremely impressive but there is this oppressive energy to it that made me feel very sad at times. I didn’t get to go into the Palace at that time but the adjacent gardens are beautiful. Mao Tse-Tung used to spend a long time in these gardens during his time of home arrest and imagine battles using rocks as inspiration. I did get to do these 2 sites almost a yea later and enjoyed seeing the magnitude of the Forbidden City. Temple of Heaven is a nice place to spend a few hours just wondering around the gardens.

Just north of the Palace you can fist a Houhai Hutong for a feel of what old Beijing used to be like. It is a very interesting neighbourhood where council houses in tiny alleys (hutong) meet nice restaurants and bars. The hutong houses are typically shared by a number of families with a shared courtyard and bathrooms. Some of the rickshaw tours that you take on the street take you in a typical house. Is it worth the touristic ride. Emma and I went to a ‘fake’ hutong close to Tianmen Sq this last time too but it wasn’t as special as Houhai despite the adventure on the bus.



Day3: Beijing
Activity:In the morning, drive to visit the Mutianyu Great Walls first, and then go
to the Ming Tombs , the once lavish burial chambers of 13 emperors of the Ming
Dynasty, for a short visit. Peckin Duck at Dadong! Absolutely the highlight of the trip to Beijing. This is a beautiful restaurant with the most amazing roast duck you will ever eat. Worth the reservation http://dadongdadong.com I liked it so much that I had to go again with Emma.


Day4: Bejing -Datong
Activity: Pick you up at the hotel in Beijing, then drive about 4 hours to Datong.
Then visit Xuankong Temple. What an amazing place! It is incredible to think how on earth these monks built this temple. The results is spectacular. 

 

Day5: Datong – Xi’an
Activity:Visit Yungang Grottoes Caves and Huayan Temple. The caves are very interesting but the temple is incredible. It is not the oldest temple you will ever see but the grounds have such an amazing peace to it. Monks raking the garden and a very low chanting on the background only complete the experience.


Day6: Xi’an
Activity:Visit Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses and Emperor Qin Shi Huang
Mausoleum.   I didn’t think much about the warriors before going on this trip so I didn’t know what to expect. I was blown away…by the hundreds and hundreds of warrior figures lining as an army but also by the thought that all of that had been built by an emperor to celebrate his own life and give a kingdom for his body after death. Can you imagine that? Once I overcame the egocentric motives for the construction I could appreciate the amazing craftsmanship of the men that created this figures that are different from one another. Also, the restoration work is out o this world given only 1 warrior was found intact and all others had to be re-built putting pieces together. 
On the way to see the warriors we stopped by a lacker factory. I know it sounds like a tourist trap but I have never seen more beautiful Chinese furniture. Such an amazing display of art really.

Day7: Xi’an
Free day to cycle on the city walls. What a special moment! We rented a tandem bike and cycled around the city remembering the great days we had together in China.

 

 

Shanghai is one of those modern big cities with lots of lights. I didn’t have a chance to see a lot of it apart from the Bund and eat 2 types of amazing dumplings that they have there. One is pan friend and the other one is made with short pastry and sold on the streets. Truly made the stop over worth it.

Hope you enjoyed this post.

Mariana

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