Saturday, June 22, 2013

Finally, the Beijing trip

I am actually in Beijing again this week on business. But since I am stuck here over the weekend, I took the opportunity to upload and annotate all the photos. And that means that I get to blog about it.

We took the high speed train from Shanghai to Beijing. This is a very civilized way to travel. You get space, you can walk around, the seats recline but the seat in front of you doesn't end up in your lap. It takes 5 hours but the trains are on time and run frequently. It is also about the same as the best airfares to go second class, which is what we did. The overall time is slightly over a plane flight but pretty close since you have to get to the airport so much ahead of the plane's departure.

There is security at the train station. You go through much the same as you would in an airport but it is a steadily moving line. Also, there are more entrances and so we didn't wait too long. Maybe it also had to do with our taking morning trains. Your luggage goes through X-ray and you go through a metal detector and get wanded.

The train goes at 300 km/h, give or take a few km. There is a constant display on a monitor along with some sort of entertainment. We couldn't figure out how to listen to the entertainment. No place to plug in our headphones as far as we could tell.
There is a dining car on the train but we didn't go there. There are also vendors who come down the aisles selling food and drink, including coffee and tea. We had taken water bottles and sandwiches from home on the way out. On the way back, we got parathas and biriyani from the Indian restaurant where we had dinner the night before and ate that on the way. Being vegetarians and not speaking the language well enough, we are a bit suspicious about buying food off carts and the street.

Our first trip out was to the Ming tombs. We had hired a guide with a car to take us around for the first two days and then we wandered around on our own. It rained the first day out and you will see that in the photos. Overall, we lucked out. It only got hot on the third day. The rain did keep the crowds down on the first day. You will notice that in the photos.

The Ming tombs are in a valley that people were not allowed into. There are multiple tombs scattered around the valley but we only went to the oldest one. This is the tomb of the 3rd emperor of the Ming dynasty who moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing.
This is a lovely etched map of the site. The straight line that goes diagonally across in the middle is the Spirit Way - which you will see later.
This is the first building in the tomb area. The Emperor needed all the same facilities in the after-life so the tomb is modeled after the Forbidden City and has administrative areas as well as other areas. The actual tomb is behind this complex and is a wooded hill. The entrances to the actual tomb were hidden.
Beautiful painted decorations on the buildings.
This is Emperor Yongle who moved the capital and whose tomb this is.
The structure is held up by these pillars which are the trunks of a tree from Southern China. They brought the logs up from there to build the tombs. It is a very hard wood that is not common any more and might even be gone.
Behind that building is this one. This is in front of the actual tomb. This building holds the soul pillar which represents the spirit of the Emperor.

From the terrace on this building, you can see some of the other tombs in the valley.
Look carefully, it is between the trees in the middle of the photo.
And another one, again in the center of the photo. The rainy day didn't help with the photos although playing with the filters on the camera helped.

This is the soul pillar.
After we finished looking around the tomb, we went to the Spirit Way. This is the road that the Emperor walked to pay homage to the spirits of his ancestors. Every Emperor came here on horse, dismounted and walked down the Spirit Way to the tomb. We are going to walk it as if he were leaving - from the tomb out to the gate.
The Way is lined with statues of officials, soldiers and animals. This map shows what each statue is.
Looking down the Sacred or Spirit Way...
Some of the statues...
Now we are up to the animals...
And we are at the entrance gate...
It has these pretty pillars on each side.
And a gigantic stele with a turtle below it inside
We then went on to the Great Wall afterwards but that will be another post. This one is pretty long as is.

I haven't done very much spinning and knitting this week but I hope to remedy that this weekend. I am meeting some Ravelers for a knitting, spinning, beer session this evening. I'll post about the Great Wall tomorrow and then fill in the other sights over the course of the next week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Thank you for sharing such wonderful sites. It makes for a lovely armchair tour, as all your posts have.