Tuesday 23 August 2016

China Part 11.........

An exciting day ahead of us as we departed our hotel for another day of sightseeing.   Our first stop was the Hutong area in Beijing where we were designated two to a rickshaw in which we toured the Hutong.

Hutongs are a type of narrow streets or alleys, commonly associated with northern Chinese cities.
In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences.

Since the mid-20th century, a large number of Beijing hutongs were demolished to make way for new roads and buildings. More recently, many hutongs have been designated as protected, in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history.

After the fun rickshaw tour we were then taken to a traditional house in the Hutong to see how the people there live.

Many neighbourhoods were formed by joining one siheyuan to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another. The word hutong is also used to refer to such neighbourhoods.

Time to leave the Hutong and have lunch before our next visit - traditional tea tasting,  which was very interesting.  Of course we bought some samples to bring home.
Then on to our next destination Tian'anmen Square.

Named after the Tiananmen ("Gate of Heavenly Peace") located to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. The square contains the Monument to the People's Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China in the square on October 1, 1949; the anniversary of this event is still observed there. It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history.

 We were in the square when the changing of the guard took place.

Outside China the square is best known for the Tiananmen Square Massacre, an armed suppression of a pro-democracy movement in June 1989.  Our tour rep politely requested that we did not discuss this event as it is forbidden in China.

Our guide had arranged for an official photographer to take a photograph of our group in the square as a momento of our tour of China.   He took great pains to get the group together and as soon as he had us ready we looked up to see a large group of Chinese tourists standing behind him ready to take our photo as soon as he had finished!   Wherever we went in China we found that Westerners are a great source of amusement to the Chinese people.   Our guide explained that lots of Chinese tourists have never seen a Westerner other than on TV hence the interest.

We made our way across the square to the Forbidden City for the next leg of our excursion.

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty—the years 1420 to 1912.  It is a truly magnificent place and HUGE!

When Hongwu Emperor's son Zhu Di became the Yongle Emperor, he moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing, and construction began in 1406 on what would become the Forbidden City.
Construction lasted 14 years and required more than a million workers. Material used include whole logs of precious Phoebe zhennan wood found in the jungles of south-western China, and large blocks of marble from quarries near Beijing. The floors of major halls were paved with "golden bricks" specially baked paving bricks from Suzhou.

 There is also a rather interesting garden that consists of what looks like petrified wood 

 and a lake.

As you might imagine after such a busy day we were very tired but our guide had one more place to take us before we headed back to the hotel - Silk Street, a shopping center in Beijing that accommodates over 1,700 retail vendors, notorious among international tourists for their wide selection of counterfeit designer brand apparel, or as she descibed it the place to get your 'genuine fake bargains'!

What a way to end the day!

I hope you will join me for Part 12, the last day of our China experience, when we visit the Summer Palace and The Great Wall of China.


Valerie said...

Wow, such a lot to take in, Pearl. I'm wishing I'd been there. Interesting about the unwillingness to talk about the Massacre. I had a liking for real China tea at one time, never drank anything else. I used to buy it at a Chinese market shop. Wondering now why I stopped!

Akelamalu said...

It was a VERY busy day Valerie for sure. We were surprised to be told not to talk about the massacre but everything is very controlled in China so really we shouldn't have been. Our guide was a lovely Chinese girl, very westernised, married to an Englishman. she told us Facebook and Twitter is banned in China but the younger generation find their way around things to get on it. The Chinese people were very friendly and helpful. I think we drank the tea for about a week after we got home, now it is languishing in the back of the cupboard in favour of teabags. LOL

Ron said...

What an awesome update on your travels through China, Pearl! As Valerie shared, it was interesting about the unwillingness to talk about the Massacre.

Your photographs are just WONDERFUL; giving the sense of what it felt like to be there.

LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the video clips of you from the rickshaw, it felt just like I was riding with you!

The little side streets and alleyways reminded me of when I visit Kyoto, while in Japan. They looks very similar.

Thanks so much for sharing, m'dear! Looking forward to your next update.

Have a lovely week!

Akelamalu said...

Haha you got just what I was intending from the rickshaw video Ron!I still want to visit Japan!