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Sunday, 23 June 2019

The Old Summer Palace revisited

Glorious plum blossom, so pretty :)

Some of you will remember that my daughter and I visited the Old Summer Palace in 2014. This year,  after our visit to the Sacred Way we decided to re-visit the park to see some of the parts we missed.

We entered the park right next to the ruins, which are were as impressive as they were last time!

One of the first things we noticed is that walkways have been constructed all round this area. We could understand this but it does mean that you are no longer able to wander wherever you want to, which is a shame. However the ruins need to be protected, and the number of visitors must have made this step neccessary.

The beautiful ruins of the fountain, tidied up a bit since we last visited. I took a photo of my daughter leaning against the fence last time we were here, this time we weren't allowed to get any closer than this.

We had noticed on our last visit that lots of the marble blocks lying around in this area had numbers painted on them, we could understand why on this visit, as it looks like there is partial reconstruction of  some of the buildings going on.

The maze, we just had to go round this again :)

The pavilion at the centre of the maze. We couldn't find our way to the middle, but we were hampered by the hundreds of school children all eager to speak to us and ask us questions :)

Eventually a friendly Chinese man took pity on us and invited us to follow him and his family to the centre.

Looking over a quiet part of the maze from the central pagoda. 

The area in the photos above and below are obviously areas where there is a lot going on, behind these stones was a large new building full of pieces of marble, which looked as if it was the centre of the reconstruction efforts. 

We had decided to walk through the park, but this was after we had visited the Sacred Way, we were very hot and tired so we walked back to the entrance a different way, some photos of which follow:

A pretty Bridge which led to ...

a lovely little island covered in trees all showing their lovely blossom :)

A beautiful spot to take a rest, so lovely and peaceful.

These two men were busy doing maintenance on this boat, getting ready for a summer working on the lakes and rivers :)

Odd paving stones here and there, nicely decorated.

Another pretty bridge where the river meets the lake :)

Such a gorgeous colour blossom :)

A lovely gentle walk helped to revive us a bit :)

Nothing to do with the Summer Place - in the evening we went to a well known lamb restaurant, where we had scrummy lamb kebabs :) The photo above shows the ceiling in the foyer of the building :)

Thursday, 30 May 2019

The Sacred Way, the Ming Tombs, Beijing

The Sacred Way, Ming Tombs, Beijing, had long been on my list of places that I really wanted to see in China. The Sacred Way, (or the road leading to Heaven) leads to the Ming Tombs, which are about 3 miles away. My daughter and I visited two of the Ming Tombs in 2014, the blogs for those visits can be seen here:http://poppysplace-poppy.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-ming-tombs-chang-ling.html and here:http://poppysplace-poppy.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-ming-tombs-ding-ling-tomb.html

The Shengong Shengde Stele Pavilion, which holds the Merits and Virtue stele, which is six metres high and mounted on the back of a Bixi.

The Bixi supporting the Stele,  this weighs about 50 tons!!

Carved dragon faces at the top of the Stele.

Surrounding the stele pavilion are four marble pillars, each 10 metres high, decorated with 41 dragons, and topped with mythical creatures. 

A close up of one of the mythical creatures on top of the marble pillars.

Our first proper sight of the animals, and apart from a few people we had the place to ourselves, which was wonderful :) There are 12 pairs of animals and 6 pairs of humans lining the route.

The crouching Lion, complete with this gorgeous little girl :)

The standing Lion, I read somewhere that the pairs of animals crouching and standing up represent the day and night shift, with the shifts changing at midnight.
The Lion represents awesome solemnity, because of their ferocity.

The crouching Xiezni, a mythical beast resembling a goat with a single horn.

The standing Xiezni.
The Xiezni is said to keep the evil spirits away.

The prone Camel,

The standing camel.
The camels and elephants are included as they represent dependable transport for covering large areas including deserts or tropics.

The prone Elephant

The standing elephant

The crouching Qilin, another mythical beast.

The standing Quilin.
The Quilin is an auspicious symbol.

The prone horse 

The standing horse.
The horse is the Emperor's mount and is indispensable.

Above and below are the Military Officers.

Above and below are the Civilian Officers.

Above and below are the Ministers of Merit.

All the pairs of statues are identical, apart from the one above - we noticed that he is smiling, we decided that he had been naughty in some way!!

The Dragon and Phoenix gate, marking the end of this section.
The Sacred way goes all the way to the Ming Tombs, but I am not sure if parts of it have been incorporated into the nearby road system.

Neither my daughter nor I could resist sitting on the elephants paw :)

I was thrilled to have finally managed to visit the Sacred Way, we had a lovely morning :)