Friday, June 19, 2009

Beijing Day 4 Part I: New Summer Palace

day 4 of our beijing trip was one of e most eventful
we walked & walked & walked until our feet ached
1st off, hotel kapok
a wonderful blessing esp after e traumatic tang yue hotel

as mentioned in e earlier post,
Gerry & I immediately checked into hotel kapok after e disaster at tang yue

& i had a wonderfully long hot shower here
jus had to!
cos i felt as if all e filth from tang yue had transferred itself onto me
loved everythg in e room
from e beds to e toilet facilities
*suspect tat's a result of e aftermath of tang yue*

hotel kapok is much pricier compared to tang yue
but trust me,
its worth paying tat much more than to tolerate a disgusting filthy room

oh oh... & worth a mention
one of e hotel concierge is pretty cute =P
& quite helpful as well!
we headed over to Wang Fu Jing area again for lunch
tis time round,
i cld get some better shots of e place
since it wasnt raining anymore

surprisingly (for someone who enjoys shopping a lot!),
i wasnt much impressed by Wang Fu Jing
find it like e Orchard district tat we hv in sg
mayb it was cos i was more on e lookout for more China/Chinese products

worth a mention thou is tis covered-up well

at first i wasnt paying much attention to it
cos it looked like one of those sewerage covers
until i saw Gerry huddled with tis grp reading wat's written on it

apparently, tis well really belonged to Wang Fu (Wang's residence)
& it was uncovered when e chinese govt was constructing tis area
perhaps thus e name Wang Fu Jing came abt
Jing in Mandarin literally means a well
lunch was another wonderful affair
one thg i must say,
most of our meals in beijing was just great
we didnt hv any disaster meals
& in fact, pigged out a lot during tis trip
but realised tat we never put on any weight at all!!
*must b all those walking & stair-climbing*
we had lunch at tis cozy little place called chamate
yummy & Gerry tinks tat its quite a healthy meal
esp after e roast duck tat we pigged out on e nite b4

we had white cabbage & golden mushrooms broiled in some soup
& some stewed beef pot tat was on their specials
e specials also came with little appetizer dishes & rice
then we also ordered dessert - hong dou bing (red bean on shaved ice)
it looked pretty amazing in e menu

dun hv a pic of e actual thg thou,
cos by tat time i realised tat i had forgotten to charge my camera batt
so i was trying to conserve

after lunch we headed for yi he yuan (aka New Summer Palace) via taxi
we were thinking abt taking e MRT
but realised tat we betta hurry since we had planned to cover yuan ming yuan (aka Old Summer Palace) as well
yi he yuan is in e northwest of beijing,
& was one of e playgrounds for e imperial court

according to e lonely planets 2007 beijing guidebook (pg 103),
"e site had long been a royal garden & was considerably enlarged & embellished by Qing emperor Qianlong in e 18th century"

Frommer's 2008 beijing guidebook (pg 16),
"btwn 1860 & 1903, foreign armies twice levelled & rebuilt it... tis palace park covers roughly 290 hectares & is bordered by Kunming Lake in e south & Longevity Hill (wan shou shan) in e north"
well, e place is really huge
we spent e entire afternoon there
& totally screwed up our plans for e day =)

but its really a very beautiful place
even e empress dowager Cixi loved coming to tis place,
& even had a residence built here!
tis is where e empress dowager Cixi had her entertainment
apparently Cixi enjoyed opera very much
& had a xi lou (theatre stage) built
i must say tat occasionally during tis trip,
cld feel lady luck shining on us
we didnt know tat there wld b a performance
but actually managed to get there to catch e tail-end of it!!

at most of e places of attractions,
parts of it were being sealed off
either for repair & restoration,
or for non-entry to tourists

similarly at yi he yuan,
there were places where we had to jus peer in from e outside
even thou i cn understand tat they prob need to protect e place
still tink tat its a shame tat one cant b allowed in at closer range
look!
they even hv their staff dress up in costume while gg abt their various duties

one thg tat i constantly felt while in beijing,
is tis weird sense of time warp
there is forever a sense of e past & present being meshed tog
e.g. like how shophouses wld hv e traditional courtyard house look
but their windows & storefronts wld b amazingly unique & modern

another e.g. walking ard in places like Forbidden City & yi he yuan
with e many ancient structures & staff in costumes
& e no. of tourists with audio guides & digi-cams
its a pretty amazing feeling
when visiting beijing,
one wld also encounter a no. of da men (great doors)
where u wld literally hv to lift ur leg up to cross over

some are pretty high
like in tis pic,
i actually used one of those mineral water bottles to give a guage of how high they cn b
in tis one, its even taller than e water bottle

there's also a tradition to crossing such great doors
in Mandarin, its nan zhou nui you
basically it jus means tat if you're a guy,
u're supposed to cross e door with ur left leg 1st
& if u're a lady
then u're supposed to cross e door with ur right leg 1st

they cn b quite particular abt tis,
& may or may nt remind u abt it
esp in some places of worship
unfortunately, despite my attempts to conserve e batt in my camera tat day
it died b4 i cld get to some of e more note-worthy places in yi he yuan
so i cn only name u those of note shld u ever visit yi he yuan
at least until Gerry passes me some of those photos tat she helped me take
Within yi he yuan, there is a chang lang (long corridor)
its apparently 728 metres long!
*definitely e longest corridor i ever walked*
murals are also drawn along these corridors
& depict various chinese lengends

then there is e graceful shi qi kong qiao (17-arch bridge)
very picturesque with e kunning lake & longevity hill in e background
*darn my forgetfulness*

last but not least,
u hv to climb e longevity hill
e view at e top is lovely!
& there's more stuff at e peak tat u dun wanna miss

e fo xiang ge (Buddhist Fragrance Pavilion) is pearched at e top after 108 stairs/steps
well, dun complain abt e 108 steps tat u hv to climb
apparently, e myth is tat after climbing those steps
u'll live to 108 yrs!!

after fo xiang ge, there is e zhi hui hai (Buddhist Temple of e Sea of Wisdom)
there are tons of sculptures of e diff buddhas
but unfortunately some of these had been destroyed by invvading foreign armies

ok, tat's it for now!
i'll post abt part II of day 4 later
cos I'M GG TO GO COLLECT MY CAMERA!!!
*hurray! hurray! hurray!*

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