I’m writing this update from a hostel in Shanghai, China. It’s August 17th, 2011, which means its been exactly six months since I left Canada on my great adventure in Korea.
I’d love to do a little ‘halfway through my time here look-back on my experiences’ kinda post, but I have no time for such long-windedness at the moment. Instead I’m going to tell you a bit about my summer vacation trip to China. On Saturday afternoon, August 13th I arrived in Beijing, China. We found our way to our hostel, which was an interesting experience in itself. For one, directions in China are usually pretty vague regarding distance. If someone says, “Oh, the metro? Yeah its really close.” That usually means its about a 45 minute walk. It’s a little reminiscent of Canda in that way actually. There is so much space here they just don’t know what to do with it.
Actually I’m getting away from myself a bit here. In the interest of time I’m going to just drop the main details of what I saw and did in Beijing and save the analysis of Chinese culture/mannerisms for a future post. Day one in Beijing we went to the Ming Tombs. The Ming Tombs are a series of tombs situated in a valley surrounded on four sides by mountains. To enter the valley, we had to drive through a narrow gap between two mountains called the Mountain of the Dragon and the Mountain of the Tiger. In the middle of the valley is a big river, and to the north of the river lies the tombs (The placement of the tombs in this area is the result of a careful Feng Shui evaluation). The tomb we saw was essentially a fortress surrounding a huge circular mound of earth, which was the tomb proper. It offered some cool views and you can get more details and shots of the area in an upcoming video.
Then we checked out the Great Wall. The Great Wall was really, really, friggin cool. We saw a part of it that had been restored for the tourists, which is too bad because I think the totally authentic, unrestored wall might have been a bit more interesting. The weather was also a mixed bag. It was humid and foggy at the wall with a good breeze blowing. This made for spectacular views of misty mountains, the fog curling up and around the Wall as the wind blows against it. Unfortunately, it didn’t offer the greatest views into the distance for those classic Great Wall photos everyone wants to have. I got lots of pictures and video anyway so be sure to check those out in week or so.
The next day we saw the Forbidden City, which is where the ancient Emperors (who styled themselves the ‘Son of Heaven’) resided. The City is situated in the heart of Beijing, very close to Tian’amen Square, which is the current seat of Chinese Government. The City consisted of 9 gates, separated by massive courtyards. The walls on the outside of the City were 10 meters high and 10 meters wide. The City contains 9,999 and 1/2 rooms (To the ancient Chinese, 10,000 was the largest number in the world and represented heaven..or perfection..or something I’m not sure which). I can’t really convey the true scale of this place in words, and I’m not sure the large amount of video I took of the area will do it justice either, but suffice it to say it was one of the most impressive places I’ve ever seen. The sheer wealth and majesty of the Forbidden City was staggering, especially when you take into account the fact that it was built nearly a millenia ago.
Finally we saw the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace was built inside a huge park in the center of Beijing. In the park is a massive man made lake which, at it’s deepest point, is about 6 meters deep. From the air, the man-made lake and islands within it look like a giant turtle. We took a boat across the lake to another park of the park and saw the worlds longest corridor (supposedly). It was 728 meters long and painted with thousands of individual pictures. The pictures ranged from flowers and landscapes to battles, generals and Chinese fairy tales. All along the corridor no two of the handmade pictures were the same, and there were several thousand of them.
I have to wrap up this entry now because people are waiting for the computers (god, their friggin ‘families’ can wait for news a little longer can’t they?) and I need to get more coffee in me before the start of my second day of Shanghai sightseeing.
Stay tuned for more in the near future, and look to my youtube channel for video of the whole trip around the 26th of August.
That’s all for now BNBers!