Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Terra Cotta Horses

China 054
Originally uploaded by seth195
posted by seth195 on flickr

Friday, August 17, 2007

Xian- Terra Cotta Army

Our tour of Xian was very hurried, since our local tour guide (China Beijing Tours a/k/a etours ) failed to meet us at the Xian airport on time.

But nothing can take away from the majesty of these soldiers.

There are a number of buildings in the museum complex. They're well designed. It would be well worth spending a few hours there to see these wonderful statues and other artifacts.

From Wikipedia:

The Terracotta Army was buried with the Emperor of Qin (Qin Shi Huangdi) in 210-209 BC (his reign over Qin was from 247 BC to 221 BC and over unified China from 221 BC to his death in 210 BC). Their purpose was to help rule another empire with Shi Huangdi in the afterlife. Consequently, they are also sometimes referred to as "Qin's Armies".

The Terracotta Army was discovered in March 1974 by local farmers drilling a water well to the east of Mount Lishan. (The precise coordinates are 34°23′5.71″N, 109°16′23.19″ECoordinates: 34°23′5.71″N, 109°16′23.19″E.) Mount Lishan is also where the material to make the terracotta warriors originated. In addition to the warriors, an entire man made necropolis for the emperor has been excavated.

Construction of this mausoleum began in 246 BC and is believed to have taken 700,000 workers and craftsmen 38 years to complete. Qin Shi Huangdi was interred inside the tomb complex upon his death in 210 BC. According to the Grand Historian Sima Qian, the First Emperor was buried alongside great amounts of treasure and objects of craftsmanship, as well as a scale replica of the universe complete with gemmed ceilings representing the cosmos, and flowing mercury representing the great earthly bodies of water. Pearls were also placed on the ceilings in the tomb to represent the stars, planets, etc.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ready to Go Home

Today, we fly home at 345 pm.

Yesterday, flew to Xian to see the army of Terra Cotta soldiers, which are as magnificent as you might think.

We're all very tired from all the walking.

Will add photos and comments when I get back.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Temple of Heaven

Sunday, we went to the Temple of Heaven, a lovely complex of buildings and greenery dating from the early 1400s.

This is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, one of the prettiest buildings I have ever seen.

After that, a walk around Tien an Men Square.

Later tonight, Peking Duck dinner.

Tomorrow, flight to Xian.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Forbidden City

Saturday, we all walked down Jintao Street to the Forbidden City, the former home of the emperors of China. Very impressive. Will post photos later.

Weather: hot, but OK. Much less air pollution that earlier in the week.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Climbing the Great Wall

At the top of the Great Wall, no more climbing steps to make. But a lot of steps to go down.

Where's Hon anyway?

Yesterday was a day of worry for me. I did not join the rest of the gang when they went out to the Summer Palace--my mind was 6,800 miles away in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. A tornado hit Brooklyn and elsewhere, and one of the areas hardest hit was Bay Ridge, and one of the hardest hit areas in Bay Ridge was my block. Several houses were damaged very badly.

After some hours of working the e-mails and phones, I determined that my house was undamaged. Whew!


Today, all of us took a ride up to the the Badoling section of the Great Wall. It was a long, steep climb to the top. Several times, we thought we were at the top, only to find a switchback, and many more steps to go. But everyone made up--and almost as tough-back down.

This section of the wall was very steep in spots.

We had a Chinese lunch at at Badoling, then continued on to the Dingling Ming Tombs , which are not too far away from the Great Wall.

The drive back to the Park Plaza was awful, due to the unbelievably bad Beijing traffic. It's surprising how many "modern" highways there are here, and how little good they do. The traffic just does not move. There will be a major expansion of the subway next year--something they should have done before they put in these damned highways.

Soon, will post some photos. Off for a Steak/frites dinner in a half hour. I could eat Chinese every day, but some are lonely for a western meal.

We drove past the Olympic Stadium this morning ("Birds Nest")

Monday, August 06, 2007

Hello from Beijing

It took a while to decide where this year's big vacation would be. I like Hawaii, but have certainly been there often enough. Europe is terrific, but I wanted more of a challenge than that. Having thoroughly enjoyed Vietnam two years ago, decided to head back to Asia.

More specifically, to the Middle Kingdom, to China, one of the many countries I've always wanted to see.

Then I put out feelers for a posse of fellow travelers. Seth was a quick yes. Dresa said she'd think about it, then she, and to the astonishment of all, Karen, said that they would come.

From Sydney, Peter and Lilian figured a few things out, and then decided that they would be interested in coming as well.

So, that's the gang- me, Seth, Karen, Dresa, Peter and Lilian.

I'm the pilot fish. I arrived here on Sunday, on the Continental nonstop flight out of Newark. The rest of them arrive on Wednesday.

The hotel we're staying in is the Park Plaza Wangfujing, which is located east of the Forbidden City. The hotel is modern in all respects, thoughtfully equipped with a minibar happy to sell you a can of local beer for $3.50. They must not realize that hotel guests can figure out how to get to the local "Quik" store a block away that sells the same can for fifty cents.

I've never had the pleasure of being in London or Pittsburgh in the 1930s, where massive factories burned coal without any pollution controls whatsoever, but I feel that I'm now reliving what that experience must have been. They're burning an awful lot of coal very close to here. Beijing is a fine city, but it does not have a future in ecotourism.

Today, I walked the miles and miles around Wangfujing Street. As you walk south on Jinbao Street, the left ( east ) of Wanfujing Street is a car-free pedestrian mall, while the right (west) is a wide two way street, filled with cars, smoky buses, and a number of bicycles.

Tomorrow, I'll take the No. 1 subway from Wangfujing Street for a joyride out to Tien an Men Square.