Friday, 21 June 2013

Day 118: Xuanhua service centre to Champing, and Beijing - Fri 21 Jun, 2013

Day 118: Xuanhua service centre to Champing, and Beijing - Fri 21 Jun, 2013
Woken to pretty sunrise by trucks braking and gearing down into service centre. Hope the "red sky in the morning, sailors warning" means we won't be facing the predicted 40° heat in Beijing this weekend for when we meet some family members who have been living in Shanghai. After all filling up with water ("money, give money" - which hasn't happened in any other centre) we were off into deepening smog. UHF radio becoming scratchier, more static (more users?) Giant wind turbines beside highway along lake foreshores.... sadly not much breeze today (maybe they’re giant smog movers??)


Parked Ozzie in Home Inn carpark Champing, beneath spectacular Sports Centre, took taxi into Beijing (Y300!) to book into Grand Hyatt hotel (at AU$230 day, definitely most expensive of trip!) and met up with GirlRob's sister Kerrie, husband Anthony, and children May and Harry. OMG, this posh hotel had a VPN tunnel, so saw our blog for first time since hitting China... good on you son Justin for keeping it going with daily photos! No time to relish or tweak it though, off to explore. Until we stepped outdoors it had been hard to comprehend that Beijing is a city of over 21 million (Australia’s total population has only just topped 23m!!) First stop was Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City, with driver and guide Qsisi. The afternoon was certainly more interesting hearing the history and stories.
I've been missing you BoyRob....



Tiananmen Gate with portrait of Mao Zedong

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming to the Qing dynasties; home of emperors and government for 500 years, and now housing the Palace Museum. The complex consists of 980 buildings over 72ha; listed by UNESCO as largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. The Outer Court was for ceremonies, Inner Court was the Emperor's residence and daily affairs of state.
The Halls of Supreme Harmony, Central Harmony and Preserving Harmony...


The enormous square is intersected by the meandering Inner Golden Water River, crossed by five bridges.  


Leading up to the terraces are ceremonial ramps, part of the Imperial Way, featuring elaborate and symbolic bas-relief carvings, one created from a single piece of stone weighing 200 tonnes. 

Throne for affairs of state


Ceremony and culture is made more interesting with kids...


In the Qing dynasty, the Emperor lived in the Palace of Heavenly Purity (Yang and the Heavens), whilst the Empress lived in the nearby Palace of Earthly Tranquility (Yin and the Earth). They met up in the Hall of Union (Yin and Yang mixed to produce harmony!) Qsisi our guide said she was named for the last dowager empress (also known as the "Dragon Lady") who was locked up under house (palace!) arrest in favour of younger concubines. May asked why they would want to lock up a porcupine? Gotta love kids…

The Qing dynasty saw Manchu Shamanist ceremonies, whilst native Chinese Taoist religion continued (the complex has two Taoist shrines). Additionally Buddhist temples are scattered throughout, including Tibetan Buddhism/Lamaism - eg the Pavilion of the Rain of Flowers holds statues, icons, and mandalas placed in ritualistic arrangements.


  • Most roofs in the Forbidden City have yellow glazed tiles, the color of the Emperor. The library has black tiles associated with water/fire-prevention, and the Crown Prince's residences have green tiles, associated with wood/growth.
  • The main halls of the Outer and Inner courts are all arranged in groups of three, the shape of the Qian triagram (Heaven) or six, the Kun triagram (Earth).
  • The sloping ridges of building roofs are decorated with a line of statuettes led by a man riding a phoenix and followed by an imperial dragon. The number of statuettes represents the status of the building.
Imperial roof decoration (highest roof ridge)



Ended our long day with dinner at Pizza Hut (kid’s choice), read and approved their Chinese school report cards, got a lovely Oz "care package": home-made chutney, vegemite, chocolates, English magazines and novels, and frizzly cake (Mum’s recipe). Lovely lovely family! Drank champagne, wine and ate chocolate over more catch up stories….

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