Exploring Beijing and the Temple of Heaven

Ray and I slept in a bit today, walked around Beijing, walked through some hutongs, ate at some random duck place, went to South Cathedral Church which is the above ground Catholic Church since the real one is very much illegal and underground. Then we headed to the Temple of Heaven, which was completed during the Ming dynasty. It’s the largest temple complexes in China. It was a beautiful and bizarre place as it was in the temple that the emperor would make sacrifices and pray to the ancestors in heaven. As I stood in the middle this large marble platform decorated with dragon carvings, I wondered how much was sacrificed here.

We’re both exhausted and I’ve got an early flight tomorrow, while Ray gets to gallivant around the Forbidden City and Tiennamen Square all day, so I’m outtie. Night!

The Greatest Wall

Ray and I woke up at 5am this morning to climb a very difficult portion of the Great Wall. We joined a group of people from the Far East International Youth Hostel. There are basically four parts of the Great Wall that tourists can walk and we decided to take the most unexplored portion, a 10 kilometer walk from Jinshanling to Simatai. We took a three hour bus ride and then we walked on a wall so exposed to the elements that it was magnificent in its ruin.

We literally saw around 30 people on the wall the whole time we were there and it was understandable why this was the case. Portions of the wall had no stairs and we would just have to improvise our way through. Some people weren’t able to make it and had to take a short cut through the mountains. Luckily, we brought enough water almost all the way to the end and then we were able to purchase some from barefoot toothless peddlers sitting in a few of the towers. Halfway through the climb, we had a break to eat some bananas and apples to help us have some extra energy to […read more…]

Suzhou

Ray and I were in Shanghai only a few hours before finally figuring out how to get to Suzhou. We had planned on staying in Suzhou only one day and then moving on to Hangzhou; however, we figured out that it was just too many cities in our schedule, so we decided to leave that for another China visit!

Suzhou is a beautiful garden city. When they say gardens, I was thinking small gardens, not huge gardens that would take days to explore! Our favorite place was the Humble Administrator’s Garden, pictured above. This is Suzhou’s largest garden and it’s considered one of China’s finest gardens. It’s hard to believe that something so beautiful was preserved since its establishment in the 16th century. The garden is situated like a labyrinth, with different roads leading to other roads or to dead ends, so we had fun trying to find our way through.

Later in the day, we took a ride on a rickshaw to see a bit of the town at night. We didn’t understand the guy, except for the agreed on price, so we didn’t know where we’d end up, but we finally ended up in this big mall […read more…]

Jiuzhaigou Hiking

Jiuzhaigou is like a dream. Its turquoise fresh water lakes and drastic mountain ranges with light fog make me forget I’m not in a fantasy world. Ray and I hiked around all day exploring every new lake and waterfall on trails that are like the one pictured above. From time to time, someone would approach us, say hello and giggled when we’d answer back. It was great fun to be an amusement. We met a few Chinese Canadians and one fellow from Indiana, who was so proud of all his children attending Indiana University, that he started listing off professors there that were an integral part of his children’s’ lives.

After a tiring and wonderful day, we went to a little restaurant over a river and pointed to Chinese symbols, hoping that we were ordering good food. It was thrilling to point to something wondering what surprise we would get. As luck would have it, we got some delicious spicy noodles(I did learn that word in Chinese since I’m obsessed with spicy food–suen la), spicy chicken and spicy beef. We drank delicious jasmine tea along with our food. I have to say, I love being in an area that […read more…]

Jiuzhaigou

Today we explored the Jiuzhaigou National Park. Sorry for the short post but it is late at night and I only have a few minutes left in the internet cafe.

Some of the highlights of the day include: the Nurongo Waterfalls, the five color lake with a deep turquoise hue and accidentally joining up with a Chinese tour group, which turned out to be a great experience as we were able to see a lot of sights, which we would not have gotten to today.

That’s it for now, more details and photos to come!

China

From the moment I arrived in China I felt like I could live here for a few years. Beijing is definitely at the top of my list of cities I could live in; also on this list are Stockholm and Bern. Although there is this crazy busy culture that far surpasses New York, I feel a peace here that I did not feel in Russia or Mongolia.

On Saturday morning I met with Yang, my dear friend Xiaomeng’s best friend, who lives in Beijing. I spent the day with Yang, her friend Yang, and the Spaniards. We spent the day exploring Tianneman Square and the Forbidden City. Afterwards we went to the Hutong market, where I bought beads for my parents. In the evening we went to a fantastic restaurant where we got a private room for the five of us. We had to order about 300 RMB worth of food to get the private room, which turned out to be around 15 dishes split between the five of us. I could not believe how much delicious and fresh food there was on the table. The tastes and smells were incredible and not like anything I had ever had. […read more…]