|Beijing, China||Week 16 8th - 11th August 2011|
| First real sign post for Beijing on an almost deserted
expressway. About 100 km to go.
We hate cities and were really not looking forward to Beijing. But our need for Mongolian Visas ensures we visit.
| Some of our non-human fellow expressway travelers were a
couple of trucks of pigs.
Presumably off to a sticky end.
| We followed the expressway onto the 5th Ring Road.
Our original strategy was to find a convenient car park, next to a park, and see what happened.
By a chance google we found some references to camping parks in Beijing. It needed some extra chinese googling.
A phone call to the one nearest the city found it not yet open but we could stay for free.
This is the road from the ring road.
| On Monday we were too late to get to the Mongolian
Consulate. We set up camp and did some washing.
Tuesday morning we set off for the Forbidden City (how could we resist visiting somewhere with a name like that).
This is the Chinese equivalent of park and ride. A subway station with bicycles parked.
| Tiananmen Square.
Not a tree in sight.
|But a very long queue for Mao Tse Tung's Mausoleum.|
| We had the taxi drop us at the Southern side of the
So we walked towards the entrance to the Forbidden City.
Its so named because the Emperor lived in the middle and access to that bit for general public was forbidden.
| There was a reasonable police presence around the square.
This guy cruised around on two wheels.
| A bronze male lion.
The lions can be sexed by what is under their right paw.
A ball for the male, a small lion for the female.
| Looking back at the main entrance.
We had a local guide and our progress was reasonable despite the crowds.
| We Wuz Here.
The local guide insisted!
I believe its the Gate of Manifesting Virtues, built in 1420 but rebuilt in 1889.
The buildings are wood.
Despite all the large bronze fire buckets (complete with space for a fire underneath to stop them freezing) there have been a lot of fires here.
|The usual curved roof.
The number of animals on the ridges signifies the importance of the people occupying the building.
This has lots so its really imperial.
|And the next step. looking back at that virtuous gate.|
The bronzes were magnificient.
Much finer detail than we've seen elsewhere.
Metallurgically, very good quality castings.
|The bridal palenquin.
The Empress enters the Forbidden City at night holding an apple and Runyi.
There were (to us) some quaint protocols observed within this Royal palace.
|Part of a dowry.
The silk is also woven with gold thread.
|Sorry, the metallurgist in me couldn't resist.
That pot is one of the fire hydrants.
|This is one of the concubines' courtyards.
There were too many to count.
We began to wonder how the Emperor found time to Emp.
|The nearest we got to the inside of the buildings.
Most had double glazing which hadn't been cleaned in a while. The camera wouldn't focus through the grime.
Just a small view of the surroundings a concubine would live in.
Once inside the Forbidden City they never left.
|A gold marriage certificate.|
|And we left the Forbidden all too soon by the Northern
We walked for about a half hour to find a bookshop.
This is one corner of the moat that partially surrounds the Forbidden City.
|Beijing is a city.
It has trolleybuses, and streets that look like streets anywhere.
|There is however an excess (to us) of fashion brand names.
One of the Armani stores was next to a Christian church.
I guess one or the other provides somewhere for Chinese fashion victims to worship or recover.
|There's a department store in there somewhere.
It was nice to be isolated in a pedestrian mall.
|We arrived at the Mongolian Consulate about 15 minutes
before opening time, stood in a queue for a couple of hours, and went home
when the window closed.
We did however obtain visa application forms and confirmed the process.
As a consolation prize we had to wait at the end of our road for a train to cross. It was long gone when we finally made it across the crossing.
|Wednesday the Mongolian Consulate was open in the morning.
We arrived sufficiently early, submitted our application (just a form, a
photograph and our passports - no extras like letters of invitation). We
could pay at the bank around the corner and pick up the visas on Thursday.
As a consolation prize we visited Walmart to stock up for Mongolia and Russia.
|The Camping Park was due for its opening ceremony on the
The price of staying there was a couple of media interviews (we were the first international visitors) and conversations with curious staff.
The target seems to be cabins (elaborate caravans with wheels and tow bar removed - plush demountables).
Not quite ready for us - we emptied our cassette in the loo next to the office foyer, our grey water on the grass, and had to search for a tap to fill fresh water.
We don't need electricity (solar) or lpg but both would have been a problem.
We tried to introduce people to the concept of a "dump point".
|One of the media interviews.
The laundry is not yet open, nor is the barbeque area.
We couldn't find the ablutions block.
Early days yet.
|With photographs for promotion.|
|And a visit from Aron.
A very infectious character who plays polo internationally (has visited the Gold Coast to play), and provided horse riding in the park.
We privately came to think of him as Marco Polo.
He also had a good grasp of motorhome basics. When he drew a picture of a battery and labeled it 12v we spent the next half hour going through the electrics of Tardis.
|Its called the Beijing International Camping Park.
This globe at the main entrance is about 4m high.
We also had a visit from Hector who is the planner for the garden.
|Some of the cabins.
It looked like someone was already staying there.
|Wednesday evening Aron was teaching someone to ride.
I know little of horses but these looked extremely well looked after.
We spent a little time simply watching someone who seemed very comfortable on a horse.
|Thursday we spent the morning at the Temple of Heaven.
Built around 1420.
The Ming and Qing Emperors worshiped heaven here and prayed for bumper harvests.
This is the circular mound.
It vaguely reminded us of Tynwald Hill in the Isle Of Man.
|There's a garden full of very old cypress trees.
Much more pleasant to walk through than the wide open stone floored spaces of the temples which were very hot.
|I think this is the Imperial Vault of Heaven.
Probably only think as the temperature was above 30 deg C and we had to be at the Mongolian Consulate by 4pm.
|These bronze dishes were for burning all the things that
were offered during ceremonies.
Nicely arranged in an arc.
|The platforms that the buildings stand on are faced with marble.|
|Lost track of which building this was, sorry.
Circular buildings have been missing, or uncommon, in most countries.
We took a bit of interest in how they were built, and there was a nice 3D cross sectional model in one of the annexes.
|We walked the gardens towards the West Gate.
It took us more than half an hour and included the Thousand Flower Garden and the Imperial Rose Garden - we are sure we saw lots of imperial roses.
This gentleman was simply relaxing playing his violing. No money involved.
There were also people exercising, and even tennis.
|We were in time for the Mongolian Consulate.
We picked up our passports, said goodbye to the people we'd met every day in the queue, and headed home.
One of the people we met was a Chinese lady (Kathy) who goes tent camping from their car. Her husband is planning to convert an old bus to a motorhome!
|Following a simple cold a couple of weeks ago I have been
I think the humidity and pollution aggravate me though I normally have trouble after a cold.
Very distracting for Ali and Susanna, particularly in the middle of the night.
I had some cough lozenges but decided something stronger was required.
The brown thing is the bit to chew and wash down with water. Two, twice per day.
They seem to be reducing the coughing. Hopefully no rebound congestion.
Apparently they are good for healthy people and have no side effects - perhaps pharmacists are the same the world over in their enthusiastic claims for medicines.
|Great Wall, Beijing, China||Week 16 12th - 13th August 2011|
|Trev||Mon, 15 Aug 11 07:37:56 +1000|
|I wouldn't worry too much about the cough Julian, once the solids concentration of the air drops below about 3% your breathing will return to normal. You could try putting a colander over your face to strain out some of the chunkier bits, before you inhale them. Could make spitting "Beijing Style" a bit harder though. I reckon the air there is equivalent to a packet a day. Probably better off smoking, at least that's filtered!|
|Tony LEE||Mon, 15 Aug 11 10:44:44 +1000|
|Must have consumed the contents of hundreds of packets of throat lozenges while we were in China so your problem isn't unusual. Would have been impossible to hold classes otherwise.|