Postcards from Beijing
Yiheyuan (The Summer Palace)
Yiheyuan is a spectacular park around Kumming Lake, located on the West side of Beijing. The present layout is eighteenth century, but most of the buildings were built (and rebuilt after Europeans destroyed them) by the Empress Dowager Cixi who ruled over the declining Chinese empire from 1861 to 1908. There are many impressive buildings and sights, here's a small selection of the photos I took:
The East Gate
The Seventeen Arch Bridge leads to the South Lake Island (A shortage of imagination in the names here!)
These boats take visitors across the lake.
Palace buildings on the north shore.
Empress Cixi used funds intended for the navy to build the spectacular Marble Boat.
On a clear day the view from Wanshou Shan (Longevity Hill) includes the TV tower and the Beijing skyline across the lake.
On the west side of the lake is a long causeway with a number of bridges of varying designs.
Finally, some of the sculptures:
3 September 2005.
This weekend is the Mid Autumn Festival. I haven't found out what it is about yet, but it's an important time for families to get together, and for the giving and receiving of moon cakes, which have various sweet fillings often including whole egg yolks (duck eggs I think). My landlords were kind enough to give me this impressive presentation box with four different moon cakes and a canister of tea leaves (Actually I haven't opened the bag yet but I presume it's tea in there.)
17 September 2005.
The Great Wall
I took a trip to the Great Wall at Simatai. This is one of the parts of the wall slightly further from Beijing and consequently less touristy than some of the more well known sections. The first glimpse of the wall through the haze leads to the reaction "You expect me to climb up there??!"
The climb up is beside this reservoir.
Once on the wall itself, there's plenty more climbing to be done.
There's a good view of the next section of the wall striking out eastwards from the other side of the reservoir.
The watchtowers are all different, depending on the rank and number of soldiers stationed there. The interiors have some impressive barrel vaulting. Some parts of the wall here are very narrow, with steps along one side.
The wall continues higher until it disappears over the peak.
For the journey back down the mountain we took a long ride on this scenic cable car.
My thanks to the staff of the Landmark Apartments for organising this excellent day out.
25 September 2005
Postscript: We Never Close
For those who think my time out here is just a holiday, here's a shot of me standing on the Great Wall discussing with a colleague a technical problem on a Q.931 access. (My diagnosis was correct and the problem was quickly resolved, by the way.)
Dominating the skyline of western Beijing is the Central China Television Tower. Broadcasting five radio stations and seven TV channels, the tower features a revolving restaurant and viewing gallery. After weeks of waiting for a clear day I was finally able to visit it.
The entrance steps are guarded by these impressive dragons.
The view from the viewing platform is impressive, and I was immediately struck by the endless tower blocks of Beijing's modern urban development.
Looking further west I could see the mountains beyond the suburbs.
Also visible were this temple and a small area of traditional crowded housing which has, so far, escaped the developers.
Just across the ring road from the tower is Yuyuantan Park.
After visiting the tower I took a stroll in the pleasant Yuyuantan Park. (2 RMB to get in.)
8 October 2005