Houhai lake

On August 1, 2012, in Beijing, Entertainment, Lakes, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

If you travel to Bejing you will realize that it has a lot of pecculiarities, it has different landscapes and one of the most beautiful you can find in your Beijing tour is The Houhai lake zone. The Houhai lake zone is a district that is formed by a lake and it’s surroundings, mostly Hútòngs. […]

If you travel to Bejing you will realize that it has a lot of pecculiarities, it has different landscapes and one of the most beautiful you can find in your Beijing tour is The Houhai lake zone.

The Houhai lake zone is a district that is formed by a lake and it’s surroundings, mostly Hútòngs.
It’s situated in the central part of Beijing and is one of the three parts of the Shichahai area, formed by the areas of QianHai, HouHai and XiHai and together they form three lakes whose water come from different parts like the Beijing zoo or the West Fragrant Hills.

But the Houhai area is the most popular area, either in daylight or at night.

During the day the area is bursting in activity, the Hútòngs and the lake shore are full of shops but the lake is also vey crouded, you can rent a boat there and discover the lake at your pace, you can see the fishermen fishing in the lake and you can even bath if you feel like it (athough maybe is not very sanitary)

But the nightlife is also very active, the lake shore is full of bars and pubs with a distinctive atmosphere, the combination of neon lights and paper lanterns that makes an environment surprisinggly calm and relaxing.

One of the most interesting activites that you can do in HouHai is rent a Rickshaw and visit the two historical spots that have made the HouHai zone one of the most visited in china; The place of birth of the emperor Puyi (the last emperor of China) and the coutyard house that holds the residence of Song QinLing, the wife of the emperor Sun YatSen, both of this houses are now museums and can be  visited, it’s interesting how well preserved are the gardens and the ponds and the huge difference between the Hútòngs that can be seen not very far away and the magnificence of the imperial residence.

the HouHai lake is a good place also for the modern people, you can find live music in most of the bars and all the shops are full of handmade things that will give a very chic touch in your (or your friends’) house.

The Houhai lake is the place to go if you want to have a relaxed day, just walking in the lakeshore, looking at nice souvenirs or maybe drinking something and just see the people pass by.

In bettween all the rush of Beijing City make sure to include the HouHai lake in your Beijing tour. You won’t regret it!

Tagged with:  

Fit for an Emperor

On May 28, 2012, in Historical Relics, Must-sees, Tombs, by Jack Li

Feeling like one of the hottest days this year, a couple of friends and I ventured out to the Ming Tombs (the Tombs) from the location of our Beijing hotels. Our mode of transport was the bus from the Deshengmen Station, (next to the Arrow Tower) and accessible to Jishuitan subway station, Line 2, Exit […]

Feeling like one of the hottest days this year, a couple of friends and I ventured out to the Ming Tombs (the Tombs) from the location of our Beijing hotels. Our mode of transport was the bus from the Deshengmen Station, (next to the Arrow Tower) and accessible to Jishuitan subway station, Line 2, Exit A. Funnily enough, as I have noticed on a couple of occasions, it always surprises me to see how well-prepared locals businesspeople are with the change in weather patterns – on this occasion, wide-brimmed hats were stockpiled and selling fast. To our joy, we discovered that the buses accepted subway cards with and each journey only costing 3RMB (which is considerably cheaper than paying by cash). Approximately one hour’s drive (51 kilometres) north from Beijing the Tombs make for an excellent China travel day trip.

So, what is the justification in visiting the Tombs? Well, firstly, the Tombs are situated in a scenic location straddling the southern slope Tianshou Mountain. Furthermore, the position of the Tombs is no accident, as it follows in accordance with the principles of feng shui to deflect evil. Secondly, the Tombs bare immense historical significance as the place of rest for thirteen Ming Dynasty emperors. Due to the prominence of the Tombs, in 2003, they were subsequently listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is, of course, exhibition halls at the tombs which display some very intriguing sights such as an imposing figure of a seated Emperor Yongle and items such as imperial robes.

Depending on your schedule, it is quite easy to spend a whole day at the tombs by either spend a whole day walking from one site to another. Talking in the 7 kilometre ‘Spirit Walk’ is certainly one way in which to appreciate the reverence of the site. Indeed, here visitors will be able to gaze in wonder at statutes of familiar animals such as camels, elephants, rams and mythical creatures like that of the fearsome ‘bixie’ and ‘qilin’. Needless to say, the Tombs dispersed at the base of the mountain, so using the bus is a viable option from, for instance, the Changling Tomb to that of Dingling. As the name ‘tomb’ suggests, it would be assumed that you can enter underground – this is true for the Dingling Tomb at least. Nevertheless, be prepared to walk up to the top of the tomb and then walk down a considerable amount of stairs into the tomb. Once in the tomb is evident how revered the place is with many tourists donating money.

Compared to other top attractions, like the Forbidden Palace and Temple of Heaven, there does appear to be not the same grandeur – but does there need to be? The Tombs are, after all, a place of respect for the generations of rulers which have gone before. This fact is made evident in light of the money piles donated by tourists making the whole visit rather humbling. Therefore, to discover the very essence of the country’s incredible past, especially if you are going to travel to Beijing, a visit to the Ming Tombs should definitely be in order.

 

 

 

The Old Summer Palace

On May 22, 2012, in Beijing, Historical Relics, Nature Scenery, by Jack Li

Many have heard of the Summer Palace, but what of Yuan Ming Yuan or the ‘Old Summer Palace’? In order to truly grasp the history of the Summer Palace, then take some time to travel to Beijing and have a sombre reflection of the once memorising formal Imperial Palace. The palace can be reached from […]

Many have heard of the Summer Palace, but what of Yuan Ming Yuan or the ‘Old Summer Palace’? In order to truly grasp the history of the Summer Palace, then take some time to travel to Beijing and have a sombre reflection of the once memorising formal Imperial Palace. The palace can be reached from exit B at Yuanmingyuan Station, subway Line 4 which means it is quite manageable to access the palace from whichever of the Beijing hotels you decide to stay in.

 

Before entering the palace grounds, expect to be met by a showcase of en tertainment. With performers encouraging you to join in, the atmosphere in the palace courtyard is rather thrilling. The apparatus which the performers use are slightly out of the norm, with diablo
-like contraptions making whirling noises and that projects an almighty bang as if gunpowder has exploded.

In the days of the Second Opium War, the Old Summer Palace was ransacked as retaliation by French and British troops so therefore today, the palace lies in ruins. Some parts of the grounds, have, nonetheless, been restored in the 1990s; such the Jianbiting in 1993, which in turn has made the place a rather attractive location to visit. Compared to the ‘new’ Summer Palace, the grounds have a more natural and raw appearance as opposed to the pristine gardens of its successor. Additionally, in contrast to the ‘new’ palace, the ‘old’ one has (from its remains) a European appearance. Indeed, the ruins can be likened to that of classical Greco-Roman architecture with marble-like white stones.

In its heyday, as indicated by the ruins, the palace would have looked incredible. For example, the largest building at the palace, The Haiyan Hall was adorned with bronze sculptures with symbolic animal heads representing the 12-year cycle of human births would spray water. Whilst the exterior of Haiyan Hall would also have been a radiant sight with towering fountains glistening in the summer heat. Water certainly played a major role in old palace and this is made clear when observing the strange-looking structure called the Haiyantang. At first glance, the Haiyantang appears like a upturned pyramid, however, its original purpose was to act as a 160 cubic meters tin reservoir.

Without doubt, just going for a walk around the palace’s lakes is pleasing in itself. Due to the palace being abandoned most of the grounds, bar the designated ruins area; feels like you are walking in the countryside. The lakes themselves are swamped in reeds and water lilies which subsequently enhances the timeless and ancient effect of the place. As a concluding thought, a traditional boat ride would be a premium choice to finish the day off in the palace grounds on any China travel itinerary to the city. If you’re lucky enough, you may even be able to spot some of the palace’s majestic black swans!

 

Tagged with:  

Written in the Stars

On April 18, 2012, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

Just off Exit C at Jianguomen Station is Beijing’s Ancient Observatory. The observatory was built in 1442 under the Ming Dynasty and by then it was given the name, ‘Platform of Star-Watching’. Only until the Qing Dynasty was it called an ‘observatory’. The observatory is a very significant landmark in the city as it represents […]

Just off Exit C at Jianguomen Station is Beijing’s Ancient Observatory. The observatory was built in 1442 under the Ming Dynasty and by then it was given the name, ‘Platform of Star-Watching’. Only until the Qing Dynasty was it called an ‘observatory’. The observatory is a very significant landmark in the city as it represents an exchange of ideas between Chinese and Western thinkers around the time of the renaissance. Furthermore, the observatory can boast to be one of the oldest of its kind in the world. Give or take, you can comfortably spend about an hour at the observatory if you decide to travel to Beijing. Lastly, it should be noted that because Jianguomen is transportation hub, it is easy to reach the observatory from many of the local Beijing hotels.

The highlight of this attraction is the observatory platform which passes over 17 metres in height. At the top of the platform, this is where the magic really happened! Essentially, this is where the astronomers would stargaze and apply their knowledge by utilising the marvellous pieces of equipment on display. The astronomical instruments which you will see are not just scientific gadgets, but they are finely crafted works of art fashioned from bronze. Below the platform, in the garden, there are also other instruments to be found. If anything, it is a good idea to visit the observatory just to admire the historical fusion between east and west.

Constructed along the city wall, the observatory is reminiscent of a period of international innovation. The Forbidden City, the Observatory of Paris and the Royal Greenwich Observatory were all built around the same time, for instance. Indeed, the Ancient Observatory has its beginnings in a time of an international exchange of ideas. Essentially, it was a German adviser who influenced the Emperor to use western measuring and calculation methods. From then on, a number of astronomical instruments were built with some of the most notable today including the Armillary Sphere, Celestial Globe and the Azimuth Theodolite.

What makes the observatory rather unique is its sense of preservation. For example, out of quite a few observatories under the old Chinese dynasties, the Ancient Observatory is only one to survive. The observatory is also very impressive considering it was able to recover many of the instruments it lost after they were looted in the past. Nevertheless, the observatory has gained recognition for its preservation achievements. For example, in 1982, the National Cultural Relics Protection Bureau recognised the observatory as a National Heritage site. Even famous people such as the ex-Prime Minister from Britain, Tony Blair, have visited the observatory!

On face value, it would appear that the main purpose of the observatory would have been to assess calendar dates by staring at the cosmos. However, the observatory had many purposes such as aiding navigation for seafarers and assist with military tactics. Apart from astronomy, the observatory also exhibits a range of other measuring devices such as delightful examples of ancient clepsydras (water clocks). Whilst in the garden, there are a range of different sundials to view – its fun to check just how accurate these dials are against your watch! In any case, if the observatory interests you and you want to learn more, Beijing flights are a good first port of call.

Tagged with:  

The Smell of Incenses

On April 6, 2012, in Beijing, Cultural Experience, Temples, by Jack Li

You can’t travel to Beijing without seeing and visiting one of the many Buddhist temples which can be found in the city and all over the country. They are an important element of many Beijing tours. Many of them are not only architectural masterpieces but also an important part of China’s history and culture. With about 50 – […]

You can’t travel to Beijing without seeing and visiting one of the many Buddhist temples which can be found in the city and all over the country. They are an important element of many Beijing tours. Many of them are not only architectural masterpieces but also an important part of China’s history and culture. With about 50 – 80 % of the population practicing this religion Buddhism is still the dominant faith in China today.

One of the most beautiful and famous temples in Beijing is the Yonghegong Lama Temple in the northeast of the city. It’s one of the largest monasteries in the world and not only visited by foreign tourists but mainly by Chinese people. For that reason it’s pretty crowded on a holiday what I personally liked because it’s full of people praying and burning incenses. That way you feel the spirituality of this place and the smell of the incenses really contributes to this special feeling.

The impressive artwork of all the smaller and bigger halls and pavilions is a combination of different architectural styles of the Han, the Mandschu, the Mongolian and the Tibetan. This place was initially built in the early Qing dynasty, in 1694, as a residence for the emperor Yongzheng. Only in 1744 it became the national center for lama administration.

At the entrance there is a big map where you can see the outline of the place and you’ll realize that the whole temple is built symmetrically. In the center there are five main halls and by walking through the first you will get to the next one that is a little bigger than the one before.

After the Hall of the Heavenly Kings comes the second one, called The Hall of Harmony and Peace which contains the three statues of Sakyamuni (Buddha of the Present), Kasyapa Matanga (Buddhist of the Past) and Maitreya (Buddha of the Future). Moreover, it holds an original copper cooking vessel from 1747, a very unique relic.

The Hall of Everlasting Blessings which is the next building used to be the residence of the Emperor in earlier times. The fourth hall is called Hall of the Dharma Wheel and is the place where lamas hold ceremonies. The last pavilion, which is also the biggest one, is the Pavilion of Infinite Happiness. Inside you’ll find the huge statue of Maitreya with a height of 85 feet (26 meters). It’s really impressive to be standing at the bottom of this statue which reaches all the way up to the roof of the three-storey building. It is carved out of a single piece of white sandal wood.

You can easily get to this temple by subway. Just take line number 2 to Yonghegong station which is right next to the temple although you have to walk half way around it to get to the entrance.

Anyone really interested in experiencing the Tibetan Buddhism should nevertheless travel to Tibet. It’s worth a trip especially since the flights are affordable and you can book Tibet tours with a complete program so that you won’t miss any of the must-sees in that area.

What is the time? Time to visit the Bell and Drum towers

On July 18, 2011, in Beijing, Cultural Experience, Shopping, by Jack Li

The Bell and Drum Towers are beautifully constructed buildings and were originally used as musical instruments. However since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220) they have been used to tell the time. This site takes you back in time to old Beijing. Get Beijing Flights and Travel to Beijing now to visit this wonderful area. When […]

The Bell and Drum Towers are beautifully constructed buildings and were originally used as musical instruments. However since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220) they have been used to tell the time. This site takes you back in time to old Beijing. Get Beijing Flights and Travel to Beijing now to visit this wonderful area.

When the towers were used to tell the time the bell would ring to signal that it was morning, while the drum signified dusk. During the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties (1271-1911) they played a vital role in the lives of Beijingers, as they had no other way of telling the time. As the towers were so important they were constructed in almost every city in China. However the ones in Beijing are the largest and highest. Traditionally the two towers should be next to each other however in Beijing they are opposite one another, lying on the north-south axis.

They are located in the Dongcheng district and are symbolic to this old city area. They were built in 1272, however they had to be rebuilt after experiencing two fires.

Bell Tower

The Bell Tower has the largest and heaviest bell in China. The Bell is 7.02m (23 feet) casino online high and weighs an incredible 63 tons (138,891 pounds.) It creates a clear sound that travels great distances because it is made of copper.

Drum Tower 

The Drum Tower is 100m (109 yards) to the south of the Bell Tower. It was built onto a 4m high (13 feet) stone and brick base. The tower is 46.7m (153 feet) high, where as the Bell Tower is slightly taller at 47.9m (157 feet.) Originally there were 24 small drums and one large one within the tower. Today only the large one remains. The drum was beaten quickly for 18 times and then slowly for 18 times. The same was the case with the bell because in ancient times this demonstrated one year.

When the last emperor of China, called Pu Yi, left the Forbidden City the bells and drums stopped being used to tell the time. Fortunately nowadays they are used on Chinese New Years Eve. This is done to send a blessing to the Chinese people.

Located south of the Drum Tower are the original hutongs. These are picturesque side streets that are hundreds of years old. Beijing families have lived in this area for generations and it is fascinating to explore the old way of life. The street is called Yandai Xiejie, as ‘yandai’ is a Chinese pipe that was traditionally sold there. Today this street sells everything from traditional Chinese food to handcrafted items. If you want a Chinese tea set or beautiful silk items this is the place to go.

Next to Yandai Xiejie is Houhai Lake and Qianhai Lake. This is an idyllic place to escape from the hustle and bustle of Beijing. It is the perfect spot to admire the Bell and Drum Towers, through the willow trees. Children play while the elderly play cards and dominoes in the streets. Why not take a rickshaw ride around the lakes or hire a bike?

The Bell Tower is 15 CNY and the Drum Tower is 20 CNY. They are open all day and are very accessible. Just take Subway Line 2 and get off at Guloudajie at Exit B. Then walk south for 10 minutes.

Beijing Tours are an easy and affordable way to see the best of what Beijing has to offer, so book it now before time runs out!

Ming Tombs

On November 17, 2010, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Historical Relics, Tombs, by Jack Li

The Ming Tombs are the final resting place for 13 of the 16 Ming Emperors. These Tombs really show off exquisite Chinese architecture which has been well looked after for many years. The site where the Tombs sit was especially selected because of its auspicious feng shui alignment, it is cradled between the ridges of […]

The Ming Tombs are the final resting place for 13 of the 16 Ming Emperors. These Tombs really show off exquisite Chinese architecture which has been well looked after for many years. The site where the Tombs sit was especially selected because of its auspicious feng shui alignment, it is cradled between the ridges of two mountains protecting the dead and letting the evil spirits be carried by the north wind.

Beautiful Pathway

The most impressive Tombs by far are that of the Yongle emperor  and Chang Li these two were the first two to be built and are the most ornate. In recent times they have been tastefully restored to show their true previous beauty, however there are parts of the burial chamber that have never been excavated. There is a lot of speculation about  what may be underneath it’s thought that 16 concubines are buried there.

Amazingly Vivid Colours

The  Burial park is very big, with 13 tombs which are spread across a 15 square mile area which is very far to walk if you want to see it all in one day. I would suggest if you want to visit them all they should be visited by a taxi. There is so much more to see besides the Tombs foe example the Ding Ling treasures, which are the artifacts from Wanli Empores mostly are made of gold and have a priceless value. My favourite was the threaded-gold-crown it is beautifully bright and golden it has two dragons carved into it.

Gold Threaded Crown

A tour of the Beijing Hutongs

On October 15, 2010, in Beijing, Cool Places, Cultural Experience, Tours, Travel Info, by Jack Li

As part of your China Tours, don”t miss a trip to the Hutongs – a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and experience an important part of Chinese culture and history. You can do this trip either independently or take an organized tour for a more informative experience, check out Beijing Tours for more information. The Hutongs […]

As part of your China Tours, don”t miss a trip to the Hutongs – a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and experience an important part of Chinese culture and history. You can do this trip either independently or take an organized tour for a more informative experience, check out Beijing Tours for more information.

The Hutongs are a network of narrow streets or alleyways within the city; a neighbourhood of shops, restaurants and homes set away from the main roads, skyscrapers and apartment buildings of modern China. It is here that you will find the traditional courtyard residences, known as siheyuan, along the alleys which form the heart of Old Beijing and its traditions.     

An example of the traditional courtyard residences

  In ancient China the majority of the population used to live in these residential areas, often according to social class. However, over time the number of hutongs in Beijing has dramatically decreased as they have been replaced by new roads and buildings and many residents have left their family homes in favour of modern facilities and apartment buildings. 

A Beijing Hutong

 And so I highly recommend a trip to the Hutongs in order to see this interesting aspect of Chinese cultural history preserved by the communities who have lived this way for online casino generations. There are many Hutongs to choose from, scattered all over the city. One of the more historically famous Hutongs is Liulichang Culture Street, located in Xuanwu District, which is full of Chinese ancient treasures. The street”s name can be literally translated as  “Beijing Colored Glaze Factory Street” which gives a hint to its role in the past. The factory then became an antique market and today its shops sell  jewellery, calligraphy, paintings, ancient books, tea and various other arts and crafts.    

The tea house in Liulichang

  If you are looking for PISCES – horoscopes leo : Fire and water don?t mix. a relaxing afternoon in the city, why not take online casino canada a stroll down these streets and wander into the different shops, you may even find the perfect gift for friends and family back home! I recommend going to the tea house where you can sit down and try a cup of one of their many flavours of tea and then buy it afterwards in the shop. There is also a workshop at the back where you can observe the men making the calligraphy brushes by hand.  

My friends sampling the tea in the Tea House

  

The workshop

 And if you are looking for cheaper gifts or something for yourself, head to the Chinese equivalent of a pound shop at the bottom of the street. It sells everything from jewellery to furniture and all for 10 Yuan – my highlight were the bangles and wooden chopsticks in display boxes, a great souvenir to represent your time in China. And as always, dont forget to haggle!

And so if you are interested in experiencing the Hutong culture in Beijing, why not start your adventure in Liulichang Culture Street and then continue to explore the many other Hutongs across the city. If you are looking for more ideas about what to do and where to go in China, check out china travel.

Tagged with:  
Page 1 of 11