China Part 2
Beijing, the capital city. The town is alive with energy, money, and power. In Beijing we meet up with Myrna James and David Sachse. I lived with Myrna's brother at Kansas State. She is traveling around the world and we managed to cross each others paths - imagine that. She introduced us to David, also a K-State graduate. David took us out for a great meal and drinks in Beijing.
We start at Tiananmen Square, site of the 1989 student protests and invasion by tanks. It's the largest square in the world.
Located on the north side of the square is Tiananmen Gate, a 15th century structure. Used in the imperial days for proclamations. Used in 1949 by chairman Mao for declaration of the People's Republic.
Looking down on to the Forbidden City. Home of the Ming and Qing dynasties, off limits to common people for 500 years. It was started in 1406 and underwent a variety of expansion through various emperors. It suffered heavy destruction at the hands of the Manchus in 1664. Most of the current building are from the 18th century. It is undergoing heavy restoration work now.
This is the entrance to the Forbidden City. A gate that is around 75 feet thick. Quite an imposing entrance to keep people out.
The stone gate is meant to keep people out, the lions at the entrances are meant to keep evil sprits out. These are found in pairs, a male and female. Below is a female, she has a cub under her paw. The male has a ball. Next time you eat at your local chinese restaurant have a look for a pair of guardian lions.
The symbol of the emperor and ultimate power is the dragon. Dragons decorate every aspect of the Forbidden City. One of the really impressive dragon stone works we saw was on the stairways. This is carved from one solid piece of stone!
And the required throne for the palace. We saw 3 different thrones in the city for the emperor. This we thought was the best.
Another excellent work of dragon carving, a whole section of wall.
We are taken out to eat at a local restaurant by some new friends, William and Aggey. They treat us to some of their favorite dishes.
We are determined to find a non-touristy section of the great wall. There is no better place close to Beijing than Sematai. We really had a bit of a challenge getting there using 3 different minibus services, but it was worth it as it is one of the steepest parts of the great wall. Here is one of the minivan's we rode in. How many people can you fit into a mini van? 18.
As you see here, much of it is not restored here which adds to the experience.
From Beijing we traveled south to the Li River Valley.