Lend a Helping Hand: Volunteering in Beijing

When traveling to Beijing, the first things on any foreigner’s itinerary are seeing the Great Wall, joining tours of famous sites such as the Temple of Heaven, getting some great deals at the Silk Market, and having their fair share of Peking duck. However, for who feel like doing some good for others while in […]

When traveling to Beijing, the first things on any foreigner’s itinerary are seeing the Great Wall, joining tours of famous sites such as the Temple of Heaven, getting some great deals at the Silk Market, and having their fair share of Peking duck. However, for who feel like doing some good for others while in town, there are plenty of resources and opportunities to reach out here in the city. As per most countries, China’s population must cope with issues such as poverty, mental illness, environmental disasters, and illiteracy. Luckily, there are many organizations that give the native population as well as expats a chance to help out.

Volunteer teaching is a major resource of aid to the Beijing community. Education is a valuable tool in helping advance the lives of individuals by enabling them to gain the means needed to provide for themselves. If you are an expat in Beijing, you can help provide a major service by offering to teach English as a second language. One NPO called Compassion for Migrant Children, which organizes social and educational programs for the children of migrant workers. For the estimated half a million migrant children living in Beijing, organizations like CMC provide an opportunity for them to receive suitable academic instruction and vocational training. Other organizations to volunteer at are the Lotus Culture Center and China Education Initiative, which help bring enrichment into the lives of underprivileged children.

This past weekend I had a personal experience volunteering at one of the Huiling Community Services facilities. Public Health is another major concern here in Beijing that needs as many helping hands as possible. The Huiling Center helps individuals with disabilities learn life skills as well as arts and crafts, music, and athletics. In order to further improve the quality of life for its members, Huiling offers them opportunities to make money by working with tour groups and making jewelry. My experience there was absolutely amazing.  My colleagues and I were able to meet and spend time with a handful of mentally disabled ‘trainees’ there. We sang songs, danced, and played games together. My favorite part was the teambuilding exercises. Afterward, we got the chance to purchase several pieces of the beautiful handmade jewelry that were made by some of the trainees, from which the proceeds go toward funding the organization.

Poverty and the environment are other causes in Beijing that need lots of attention and provide many volunteering prospects. Wokai provides financial aid to villagers living in rural China in order to support their entrepreneurial projects. Wokai depends almost entirely on volunteers to translate, plan events and provide marketing services in order to advance the organization’s ambitious efforts. Other great organizations include Planet Finance and Rotaract. The latter offers resources to expats interested in starting up clothing and food drives in their areas.  For environmentally focused volunteering, check out the Roots and Shoots Eco-English program, which brings foreign volunteers across Beijing to classrooms where they can learn about  how to improve the environment, be nature-friendly, and get involved in events. This is great way to contribute your own new ideas to the environmental movement.

With so many different causes and organizations across Beijing, feel free to do a little good work during your China travel by volunteering your time. I know my volunteer experience made a deep impression on me, as well as provided memories I will cherish forever.

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Jinci temple

On July 25, 2012, in Must-sees, Parks & Gardens, Shanxi, Temples, by Jack Li

If you travel to China and you want to see a place that has a lot of history but is not typical for foreigners why don’t you take a train to Taiyuan and go to one of the most astonishing temples of the Shanxi region, and the whole country that has more than 3000 years […]

If you travel to China and you want to see a place that has a lot of history but is not typical for foreigners why don’t you take a train to Taiyuan and go to one of the most astonishing temples of the Shanxi region, and the whole country that has more than 3000 years of history and is one of the most beautiful places you can find in your China Travel?

What is called “The Jinci Temple” is a combination of buildings from different ages and a natural landscape that frames the buildings in a perfect environment and has a relaxing atmosphere ideal for those who seek the tranquility of an ancient place.

It’s better to visit it in the early morning, it opens at seven o’clock, and it’s bigger than it seems so it’s better if you have lots of time to wander in the multiple attractions that  the Jinci temple has to offer.

There are lots of buildings and statues and shrines and temples to see there but these are the must-sees and the things you cannot miss for you will not find them anywhere;

–          The Saint Mother’s hall; the oldest building in the complex, it’s one of the most important places of the ancient China, so make sure not to miss it.

–          The Flying Bridge across the Fish Pond: it was the first bridge built in that fashion in China and now is the only one that remains intact, its peculiarity is that it’s literally flying over the water; it has no columns in the middle.

–          The Figures of Maidservants: in the Mother Hall there are some very ancient clay statues that are worth seeing.



–          The Ancient Cypresses; these are three cypresses that represent a family, the “parents” are two trees of more than 3000 years old and the “son” is more than 1700 years old.-          The tablets of The Writing of the Emperors; hundreds of stones tables that hold the words and laws of some of the Chinese Emperors.-          The museums of paintings and Calligraphy that have taken some of the ancient residential buildings.-          The Four Bronze statues that represent warriors famous in their time.

These are just some of the things you can see in the Jinci Temple, the attractions that are unique, but there are also other important things like the Boat Shaped Hall with the statue of a monk that is supposed to bring you luck in your studies, the well that has always bubbling water thanks to the underground currents, the pagoda shaped building and the temple of the Dragons, on a rock that you can go through trough a cave.

The Jinci Temple is one of the most important temples of ancient China so if you have the opportunity to make a detour in your China travel and you can spare a day in the Shanxi region make sure that you include the Jinci Temple, it’ll be a decision that you will not regret!

 

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Curiosities about china.

On July 24, 2012, in Adventure Trip, China Travel Gossip, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

During your Travel to China you will see lots of things that will surprise you and some other things that maybe you have not realized but can be very useful if you want to blend in the Chinese world. Sometimes you are rude without realizing it so make sure you know a bit of the […]

During your Travel to China you will see lots of things that will surprise you and some other things that maybe you have not realized but can be very useful if you want to blend in the Chinese world. Sometimes you are rude without realizing it so make sure you know a bit of the culture before your trip to China.

There are some tips what can help you in your travel.

For example, when you want to call somebody, either a person or even a taxi, don’t put your fingers up, it’s considered rude, instead make a sweeping gesture towards you and everybody will understand.

If you use a toothpick cover your mouth, it’s rude not to do it.

If you receive a present don’t open it in front of the person who has gave it to you, just keep it for when you are alone

When you receive a business card don’t put it in your rear pocket (not even in the wallet) it represents that you want to sit on them.

After eating never stick your chopsticks in the rice, it resembles the incense bowl that is burned in the funerals and it’s considered very bad luck.

When you write anything (even a note to a friend) never use red ink, it’s reserved for proposals, fines and exam corrections.

If you see a religious act that occupies the whole street never pass through it, it’s considered disrespectful, especially if it’s a wedding or a funeral.

If you are with someone you like, on a first date, for example, or even a new friend, and it starts to rain never give them an umbrella to go home, the Chinese word for umbrella (San) sounds like “separation” and that means you’ll never see each other again.

Another present that you never have to make is a clock (although a wrist clock is good) because the sentence “I give you a clock” sounds like “assisting to a funeral” so if you give them a clock you wish them ill luck.

A handkerchief is not a good present either for it’s used to dry tears, that means that this relationship will end on tears.

All of these things are very difficult to follow so I give you a final tip, if you give a present who brings bad luck the other person have to give you some money (or a simple coin) and it’ll be technically a purchase, not a present, so the bad luck is eliminated.

As you can see, Chinese culture is very complex and they have a lot of traditions that we don’t know about, but don’t worry, normally they understand that we are foreigners and they don’t feel offended.

Either way when you are traveling to China it’s better to show that you have interest on the culture, that you have research a little bit about them, that will be very appreciated among the Chinese people that you’ll meet along your journey.

 

Chinese mythology: How Heaven and Earth were created.

China travel’s guide books can’t provide you all the information you need about Chinese culture, beliefs, history and myths. But fully understanding its inhabitants needs going further on the culture. Western people have their own version of how the Earth was created according to the Bible, but did you know that even Chinese people are not religious […]

China travel’s guide books can’t provide you all the information you need about Chinese culture, beliefs, history and myths. But fully understanding its inhabitants needs going further on the culture. Western people have their own version of how the Earth was created according to the Bible, but did you know that even Chinese people are not religious in general, have their own myth about that? Creation of Heaven and Earth by Pangu is the creative myth that was spread in the Orient in ancient times. More than a myth, it is even written on Chinese history books to explain who the Chinese ancestors were. But don’t get me wrong, they know that it’s a legend. The point is that wherever you go on your China tours every local would know that story, and if the topic comes out in a conversation be sure that they’ll be surprised that you know that kind of legend.

A very long time ago, Heaven and Earth were a chaotic gathering of air masses, just like an egg, with Pangu slept inside. He slept for about 18000 years and then awoke. He found that he was in the dark, so he expanded his huge hands and cut into the darkness. At that moment an explosion happened: Heaven and Earth started to split. Standing right in between the Heaven and the Earth, hands holding out the sky, feet stamping on the ground, he grew taller and taller, hence the sky became higher and higher while the ground became lower and lower. Because he was afraid that the sky and the earth could come together again he stood there for 18.000 years. As a result, the Heaven and the Earth were finally driven away from each other of 90.000 kilometers. Pangu gradually weakened after he separated the heaven and the earth. After he died, his body turned into all the things in the universe. After his death, his eyes became the Sun and the Moon, his four limbs, the mountains, blood, rivers, lakes and seas, his sinews, the field, his arteries, the roads and ways, his hair and moustache, the stars in the sky, his skin and body hair, flowers, grass, and woods, his teeth and bones, rocks, glittering pearls and precious stones. His breath became the wind and cloud, his shout became the thunderbolt, and the sweat turned out to be the rain. A lot of insects on his body were blown by wind into living human beings.

This myth has been passed from generations to generations until now among Chinese families. Moreover some ethnic minorities still sing songs about Pangu. This is one of the numerous myths in China, if you appreciated that story you could also read about Fuxi and Nüwa who are considered as ancestors of Chinese people before taking your China flight.

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Come Hungry, Leave Happy: Adventurous Eating at Wangfujing Snack Street

On July 24, 2012, in Activities, Beijing, Cultural Experience, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

You have to agree that after finishing a long day of Beijing tours, the perfect way to satisfy any hunger is with a big helping of fried and seasoned scorpions. In order to get a real Chinese experience, you cannot miss out on trying the gourmet spread at the Wangfujing Snack Street! When traveling to […]

You have to agree that after finishing a long day of Beijing tours, the perfect way to satisfy any hunger is with a big helping of fried and seasoned scorpions. In order to get a real Chinese experience, you cannot miss out on trying the gourmet spread at the Wangfujing Snack Street! When traveling to China, you probably expect to be eating your share of noodles, dumplings and rice. Nonetheless, don’t stray away from trying the real street food delicacies that can be found in this area. There are so many different creatures, sweets, and eats; be sure to b ring plenty of cash in case you want to try it all! I thought eating pork skins and bull frog at an upscale restaurant in Beijing was adventurous enough, until I heard about this marvelous food fair and new I had to push my limits even further. My friends and I ventured there in the evening, which provided a great atmosphere as the lights from the kitchens and lanterns above our heads lit up the night. I came with an empty stomach, expecting to grab some McDonald’s on the way home after trying a few things. However, I left the snack street that evening full and satisfied!

My first endeavor was the fried scorpions which seemed to be one of the most popular items available. Skewered on a stick, three very alive scorpions were dunked into a deep fryer, seasoned, and then handed to me ready for tasting. I was amazed! They were similar to eating a great batch of crispy potato chips, only with better spices and a little more substance. I decided to pass on the seahorses and starfish in order to save room for some meatier fare. Next came the snakes; a single long, thin piece of pink meat on a stick, cooked on a grill and dipped in spices. This was another great surprise, because it tasted so good. I could have eaten three or four! Being that is was pre-skinned, it was a lot easier to put the “snake” thing out of mind and just enjoy the flavors. The strangest thing I tried was a grilled bug. It was about the size of my ear and had a hard outer shell. When I crunched into it all the steamy guts kind of squished into my mouth, this sensation threw me off a bit, but I must admit the flavors were good so I just gulped it down all at once. Along the way there were definitely some things I absolutely avoided such as the centipedes, squids, winged insects, lizards, and dog. I was done tasting the creepy crawlers, so in order to get some real sustenance I nibbled on some ostrich and ducklings. I had reached a level of full satiation with no room left for dessert. If there had been room, I would have definitely indulged on a long kabob piled high with candied kiwis, pineapple, and grapes. All in all, this attraction is a ‘must-do’ during your Beijing travels. The pictures you take will be some of the best to share with friends back home, and your stomach will thank you too!

Houhai Lake, the Perfect Beijing Afternoon

On July 23, 2012, in Beijing, Lakes, Parks & Gardens, by Jack Li

When you travel to Beijing, dedicate a day to visiting Houhai Lake and its surroundings hutongs. One of the most enjoyable experiences of my trip here so far was over the weekend, strolling along lakeside watching the boaters go by. The Houhai Lake area, located in Beihai park, may just well be the coolest neighborhood […]

When you travel to Beijing, dedicate a day to visiting Houhai Lake and its surroundings hutongs. One of the most enjoyable experiences of my trip here so far was over the weekend, strolling along lakeside watching the boaters go by. The Houhai Lake area, located in Beihai park, may just well be the coolest neighborhood in town. This is a great place to take a guided Beijing tour; then even better to go back and explore on your own. It has something special for everyone no matter how you enjoy spending the afternoon.

Here’s my recommended itinerary: Start at the opening entrance to Yandai Xiejie and make your way through the treasure trove that is this Hutong marketplace. Walking down this street you may get a feeling such as, “This is exactly what I was looking for in China,” I know I did. Although there are some stores with the average array of souvenirs, there are much more boutiques of unique trinkets, testable teas, handmade crafts and silks, Chinese art, and my personal favorite, plenty of Mao-morabilia. At the end of the street take a left at the Churro stand and make your way towards the lake area. Your first view will be of a quaint bridge with overhanging tree branches, the unspoiled setting for your day. After all that shopping you may need an energy boost, so stop by a number of the lakeside cafes, where you can snuggle up on a plush couch and people watch to your heart’s content. Many venues have live music performers, the perfect finishing touch to any ambiance.

Next, make your way towards the boat rental stand. The views from on land are fantastic, but the experience of Houhai is not complete without getting out on the water. Make sure you steer clear of any exploratory lake swimmers though! Houhai is overflowing with a family oriented atmosphere, night and day. However, as the night comes in Houhai turns into a buzzing, lively nightlife spot. After your boat ride, it’s time for dinner. Take your party to the rooftop or grab a candlelit meal right on the water. This area is abundant with impressive eateries prepared to offer you a great selection of entrees to aperitifs. For those then looking for a good night out, many of the bars offer great deals on drinks as well as live music. The nightlife venues are plentiful and varied, from the relaxing shisha lounges, to those energetically equipped with DJs and dance floors. Don’t forget your camera, because of all that Houhai has to offer, the most important is some of China travel’s greatest views.

Put your suit, your hat and sunblock too, we’re going to splash all afternoon!

On July 23, 2012, in China Attractions, China Travel Gossip, Waterfalls & Pools, by Jack Li

After have been living Beijing’s heaviest rainfall in 60 years this weekend, and have walked in the capital’s pond like a child, it made me want to write about Chinese water parks. I think that the best place to have fun with your family in a hot summer day would be spending it in water […]

After have been living Beijing’s heaviest rainfall in 60 years this weekend, and have walked in the capital’s pond like a child, it made me want to write about Chinese water parks. I think that the best place to have fun with your family in a hot summer day would be spending it in water parks during your China travel.

First I’ll give you some tips you should know before jumping in the water, especially for girls. In my first China tour, I didn’t know that Chinese girls were wearing this type of swimsuit, and I showed up in the water park with a bikini. Everyone was looking at me in a very strange way, like if I was an alien, and I really didn’t know why. And then, I realized that at these times (in 2007) no one was wearing bikinis, and they never saw someone wearing one. It was quite embarrassing, but a funny story to tell. Chinese girls don’t wear bikinis, they try to cover their body as much as possible to avoid being tanned and because it is not usual to show their bodies like that. They wear one piece swimsuit covered with a pareo or a little skirt which is part of the outfit. But because of western influence you can see few girls wearing bikinis in pools nowadays, besides it is still not common. Other thing, in general water parks and swimming pools provide communal showers, Chinese people take their shower naked, so don’t be shocked. Of course, if you don’t feel like being naked in front of strangers you can keep your swimsuit on; it’s not an obligation but just a Chinese habit just so you know. Moreover, like all Chinese places you will be served Chinese meals in the restaurant court or the snack stands.

Now that you are well advised let’s travel to Guang Zhou at Chimelong Water Park. This is the largest and most advanced water park in the world. The park was designed by Whitewater and Forrec, both of which are internationally renowned Canadian theme park design companies. All the water rides in the park were imported, and almost all of them are award-winning rides. It definitely offers the latest water ride attractions guaranteed to thrill those seeking adventure, fun and a chance to escape from the city. Chimelong Water Park is located in Panyu District, Guangzhou, 35mins from the heart of Guangzhou City. It is situated on Metro Line 3, at Hanxi-Changlong Station, and is also reachable by bus, taxi or private vehicle. It costs 140RMB per adult and 70RMB for children less than 1.4m and the opening hours are from 9:30am to 9:00pm.

I went there on a week day in August, during vacation time, I must say that the park was quite busy and we had to wait for a while to buy tickets but then it was ok. I mean, even if the park was crowded, there were enough space for everyone, I didn’t felt packed. As everywhere in China I had to wait to get on the attractions but I didn’t wait that long, less than 10min I would say and I could even do few times again. The water is clean, and it felt so good to swim on the main pool waiting for the wave’s time. The level of security is quite good for children, I was with my little cousin and he couldn’t go on a lot of potential “risky” areas without an adult. There is a great variety among the attractions, you really have the choice, and moreover children’s attractions are just the soft versions of the adult ones. If you pay for the evening ticket you can attend to the “pool party” with some electro music.

Spending the day having fun in family in water parks is the best way to spend summertime and to relax after your China tours!

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Acrobatics in Beijing.

On July 20, 2012, in Beijing, Entertainment, Nightlife, Nightlife, by Jack Li

If you travel to Beijing you will see that most of the tourist attractions are closed by six in the afternoon, which leaves you plenty of time in the evening to enjoy Beijing’s night life. And what’s better than an acrobatic show to end a fantastic day of Beijing tour? There are plenty of places […]

If you travel to Beijing you will see that most of the tourist attractions are closed by six in the afternoon, which leaves you plenty of time in the evening to enjoy Beijing’s night life. And what’s better than an acrobatic show to end a fantastic day of Beijing tour?

There are plenty of places to go and see an acrobatic show and every theater has a different play to show the public the magnificent acrobats that exist in China.

Depending on the theater you are going you can see different shows; for example, if you go to the Red Theater you will see acrobatics mixed with Kung-fu, if you are going to Liyuan Theater Beijing Opera with acrobatics.

But the “normal” plays are the ones that you can see in Chayoang Theater, Tian Qiao Theater and Tiandi Theater, they are just the “acrobatic show” and they follow the same structure, it’s just the scenery that changes depending on the size of the theater.

The show is about a man (a clown) and a female sidekick/helper, which go on an adventure to find a treasure hidden in the depths of a dark cave.

To reach that treasure he’ll have to face lots of perils such as the Death warriors and

the Keepers of the Treasure but he’ll have time to enjoy some things as the dance of the faeries in the forest.

All in all the “Quest” of the main character is just an excuse to see the incredible acrobats doing fantastic things such as; jumping in and out circles, dance and bend  with plates full of cups,  juggle with ten balls or four umbrellas, jump between poles,  and play with Diablos.

At some point the main character seem to die and that’s the signal for the final act, the most spectacular, a show with fans and bicycles that end with ten dancers (or more) on a bicycle running in the stage, making the end of the show a very astonishing and beautiful scene.

These shows are not very long, less than two hours, so you don’t have time to get bored and you can go and have some dinner later as it’s not that late when you exit the show and normally there are lots of offers near the theaters.

If you want to have a good time in Beijing one night and you want to see a show, but you don’t want to spend hours and hours in the Opera, give an opportunity to the Acrobatics Show! You will be surprised and amazed by the ability of these Chinese artists to dance, bend their bodies, jump unbelievingly high and their ways to juggle with objects like umbrellas or Diablos.

This is one thing that you must do when you travel to Beijing and it’ll be worth the experience because you will have some amazing memories to bring home and a fantastic story to tell your friends!

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Souvenirs, souvenirs…

On July 19, 2012, in China Travel Gossip, Shopping, Tips & Ideas, Travel Info, by Jack Li

You can travel anywhere in the world, there will be always something that you must do; buying some souvenirs for relatives, friends and of course for yourself too. Your China tours will offer you a large selection of souvenirs, if something strikes your eyes you will buy it, or on the contrary maybe you won’t […]

You can travel anywhere in the world, there will be always something that you must do; buying some souvenirs for relatives, friends and of course for yourself too. Your China tours will offer you a large selection of souvenirs, if something strikes your eyes you will buy it, or on the contrary maybe you won’t buy anything since you always see same stuff on every sight-seeing place. This article will be for the travelers who don’t know what to bring back at home and could help the shopping addicts to pack their suitcase at their China hotel  and not to overweight it by giving you the 10 top souvenirs you should buy from your trip.

1. Tea set and tea leaves
As everyone knows, China is worldwide known for its tea. There’s a whole ceremony and tradition to prepare and drink it. Chinese natural reliefs can provide a great quality and numerous varieties of tea leaves. The most famous tea is from the Yunnan Province, it is called the Pu’er Tea, and it is the highest quality tea leaves that you can find in China. It is generally sold in tea cakes form, which roughly equals to 500g and the price is generally high (from 200RMB to thousands of yuan). But of course you can also find good cheaper tea as jasmine tea, green tea and black tea. Don’t forget to buy a traditional tea set to fully enjoy all the flavors of your tea. Before buying the tea set just ask to the salesperson to show you how to us it!

2. Chinese paintings and drawings
Offering a rice paper Indian ink painting and inscriptions is always well appreciated by Chinese people, if you’re lucky enough maybe you’ll get one from a nice Chinese local. But you can also buy some or having it painted by some artists in streets or parks. They can draw landscapes, characters, portraits and caricatures.

3. Qipao (Chinese traditional dress)
If you have seen Wong Kar Wai’s “In the mood for love” you must be dying to buy one of Maggie’s dresses (the actress). She is certainly the best ambassador to promote Chinese elegance all around the world since the dresses fit her perfectly and show eastern beauty. You can buy tailor-made dresses or buy a cheaper one on a random Qipao’s shop. Sirs, I can assure you that women would love it!

4. Chinese fan
Chinese fan is the perfect souvenir: this object won’t take a lot of space in your suitcase so you can buy one for each of you friends, it’s a Chinese traditional item, you have a large choice of colors, textures and shapes, and most of all, you know that everyone (except in cold countries) would use it when the temperature is rising up.

5. Chinese food
It’s a great occasion for you to share your culinary experience with your relatives by bringing back some snacks, cookies or candies. Indeed, I think that in western countries you won’t find little packets of dried squid, dried meat, dragon fruit/ginger/durian… flavored candy, or egg tarts.

6. Funny t-shirts
I’ve been in China for few months already and I can say that I’ve never seen as many funny t-shirts of my life. In general you can find them in souvenir shops and they sell it at a good price. I think that seeing an American man wearing a t-shirt “ObaMao” in the United States would be fun.

7. Jade jewelry
Jade is the favorite stone of Chinese people it symbolizes honesty, justice and kindness. Formerly, Chinese people use to think that this stone has the power of preserving dead corpse, so they use to put some in the pockets of dead people before burying them. Now it is considered as a lucky charm.

8. Funny gadgets
Markets, streets, shops, you can find some funny items almost everywhere. It can be pens, phone wire elastic clasp for hair, keyboard key ring, crazy sunglasses and so on. The list is too long, but it is very easy to find funny gadgets and quite cheap.

9. Postcards
It goes without saying that you can’t leave without having bought some postcards. It’s the classical souvenir. Even if you don’t send them, it will be nice to stick it your office desk, in your room, or just share your memories with you friends.

10. Funny hats
Since Chinese people love to wear hats in summertime to protect them again the sun. You have the choice in touristic places between the communist hat with a red star, the traditional Chinese opera hat, the emperor’s hat, or the traditional triangle Chinese hat.

I promise that your family and friends won’t be upset if you offer them one of these items above coming back from your China travel.

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The Forbidden City.

On July 19, 2012, in Beijing, Forbidden City, Must-sees, by Jack Li

When you are Traveling to Beijing there are certain places that are unavoidable and one of these places is the Forbidden City, next to the Tiananmen Square and an important point on your Beijing tour. The Forbidden City was initially an imperial palace for the Ming and the Qing dynasties, it was built in 1420 […]

When you are Traveling to Beijing there are certain places that are unavoidable and one of these places is the Forbidden City, next to the Tiananmen Square and an important point on your Beijing tour.

The Forbidden City was initially an imperial palace for the Ming and the Qing dynasties, it was built in 1420 and it has 980 buildings, who served as imperial residence and political courts, and one of its peculiarities is that all these buildings are surrounded by a moat who is 52 meters wide and 6 meters deep, you can only enter to the Forbidden City by four doors, and the only ones that are accessible to the public now are the Meridian Gate (next to Tiananmen and the main entrance) and the Gate of Divine Might (next to the Jingsang park that was built with the debris of the moat construction).

The City has a rectangular form and a spectacular tower at every corner and that is the most visible thing that you can see from the corners, the only thing that is higher than the moat and they have been built in inspiration of ancient paintings recreating palaces.

When you enter to the Forbidden City by the Meridian Gate you arrive at the exterior Court and you have to cross the Gate of the Supreme Harmony to get to the real Court, the Central Harmony, this court is the biggest and the most important in the Chinese politics, it was there where all the decisions were made and also the weddings and investitures.

Behind this hall there is the Hall of Central peace, where the emperor prepared himself for the ceremonies, after you pass this point you are in the inner Court, that’s where the emperor lived and it’s distinguished from the exterior by the amount of “nature” that you can find there.

Beyond this point you enter in a human-made forest/garden that holds lots of palaces and halls (some of them are accessible to the public) and each one of these hold a practical function in the emperor’s life.

Each building has its own symbolism and they are constructed by the “Classic of Rites” a way of building that says that each

But the Forbidden City is not just a place to see different buildings; it also holds a museum where you can see a large collection of different types of objects that were part of the Qing dynasty, these objects include the largest collection of Chinese ceramics in Beijing, up to 50,000 paintings, jade objects and palace artifacts such as daily life objects or ceremonial and bureaucratic items.

The Forbidden City was impossible to be visited by foreigners during the Imperial Era but now you can visit it, so don’t miss the opportunity and spend a good day there in your Beijing Tour! Then you can visit Tiananmen Square and/or the Jingsang Park which are next to the Forbidden City so you don’t even have to worry about the transportation!

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