Wednesday 25 March 2015

China - Beijing : Popular historic places in Beijing

Beijing - December 2014

People kept telling me the cold weather in China during December is very unbearable and advised me to bring lots and lots of warm clothing. I got pretty affected and went to buy many sets of long john from Uniqlo, coats from taobao and heat packs from Daiso. Layering is the keyword! 

We wanted to go Beijing and Xian but ended up going on a tour to Beijing and Tianjin only. We could have gone for free and easy but the tour price was too irresistible to reject. Then we regretted after second day in China.

Our first stop :  Tiananmen Square 天安门广场

Morning sun to warm us up at near 0 degree weather.

Tiananmen Square is located at the center of Beijing city and is the largest city square in the world (at 440,000 square meters) that holds about 1 million people for public celebration. 

National Museum of China

This was where big ceremony held to announce to common people who became the emperor and empress. Today, the flag raising ceremony perform every sunrise and sunset.

I must say I really relieved that I brought scarf with me. 

Tiananmen Sqaure 天安门广场
Direction: Subway Line 1: get off at Tiananmen Dong or Tiananmen Xi Station

Forbidden City 紫禁城 or Gugong 故宫

Further up the Tiananmen Square is the famous Forbidden city in Beijing. The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty.

File:Beijing city wall map.jpg
(Source: Wikipedia)

Above is a map of the historic centre of Beijing. There is an unbalanced right angle at the left top corner which looks like it was bitten off the map. According to a high rank officer, it was purposely done that way because of fengshui where the money will come in from that side and lock from other three corners. 

Today, Forbidden city is China’s largest and best-preserved collection of ancient buildings, and the largest palace complex in the world listed by UNESCO. Also, is declared as World Heritage Site in 1987.

This was actually considered lesser crowd than normal days already. I could not imagine coming here during peak period. December was just too cold to walk around and we were glad that the afternoon sun made our day slightly better. 

This was one of my lucky shots that did not capture any photobombers. 

This is so much bigger and glamorous than Gyeongbokgung Palace we visited in Korea. Even though only a small part of Forbidden City is open for visiting, we could not even walk to every corner. It is just too enormous.

Out of bound area. We had to squeeze through people to take a decent shot.

They said this was the empress's bed.

If you haven't notice, there is totally no tree in the palace, not even plants. This is to prevent any uninvited guests like assassins. They were very cautious about security. 

Finally we saw some trees in Imperial palace garden (御华园). This was where the emperors, empresses and imperial concubines appreciated the garden scenery. #sothatwaswheretheylepak

Exotic stones and few hundred years old pine trees.

Then we caught with beautiful gentle sun ray that made our selfies look very fairytales!! I hoped it snow to make it even more wonderful. #dreamandrealityisopposite

Forbidden City 紫禁城 or Gugong 故宫
Entrance fee: CNY 40 (Nov. 1 to the next Mar. 31); CNY 60 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31)
Opening hours: 8.30am - 5pm (Apr. 1- Oct.31); 8.30am - 4.30pm (Nov. 1 - the next Mar. 31); 
Closed on Mondays, except the statutory holidays and the summer vacation from Jul. 1 to Aug. 31.

We left the Forbidden city and saw this amazing frozen lake outside the walls. I was very excited to see the frozen lake. I almost jump over and ski on it. #AlthoughIDontKnowHowToSki

It just seems so peaceful.

Temple of Heaven 天坛

Then we headed to the Temple of Heaven. Today was like a history class outing. This is the most holy of all Beijing's imperial temples. The emperors came here to worship heaven and pray for a good harvest every winter solstice during Ming and Qing dynasties.

Our tour guide explained that during the olden days (and even today), they always believe in playing around with fengshui in making of their country.

Here comes the interesting fact of this Temple of heaven.
The interior twenty eight columns are divided into four central pillars to represent the seasons, twelve inner columns to represent the months, and twelve outer columns to represent the two hour sections that make up a day.

Best of all is that it is built completely without nails.

There was nothing much to do over there since we were unable to enter the temple.

It was getting colder and colder when the day got darker. My fingers got freeze bites every time I removed my gloves to take pictures.

Summer Palace 颐和园

The Summer Palace was initially built in 1750 by Emperor Qianglong but it was destroyed during the Second Opium War of the 1850s. History recorded that Empress Dowager Cixi has "used" navy funds to reconstruct the Summer Palace into a resort where 90% of the garden is used for enjoying scenery and spiritual contemplation to spend the rest of her life.

However, it got damaged again during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. It has restored again and opened to public since 1924. It has since been ranked amongst the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1998, as well as one of the first national AAAAA tourist spots in China.

Overseeing Kunming lake

I was quite irritated by our tour guide as he kept rushing us throughout the walking tour and only gave us 5 minutes to take photo while he gave us two freaking hours at a silk factory and/or tea factory and/or Tong Ren Tang and/or pearl factory blahblah..... -.-" #NoCommissionNoFreeAndEasyTime

Summer Palace 颐和园
Entrance fee: CNY 20 (Nov. 1 to the next Mar. 31); CNY 30 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31)
Opening hours: 7am - 5pm (Apr. 1- Oct.31); 6.30am - 6pm (Nov. 1 - the next Mar. 31); 
Subway Line 4: get off at Beigongmen Station (Beigongmen means the North Palace Gate); or get off at Xiyuan Station, get out of the station from Exit C2 (southwest exit) and walk west to the East Palace Gate.

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