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Thursday 26 June 2014

[Wednesday 25 June 2014]

4* The Landmark Hotel, Beijing
Day 15, Beijing (B/L/D)
Following breakfast on your last day you will visit one of China’s most important political landmarks, Tiananmen Square. It is the world’s largest city centre square and gateway to the Forbidden City, which houses the wondrous Imperial Palace.
[i] Conclude your trip with a traditional Peking Duck dinner, a delicious way to end your tour.
[i] The visit to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City was done on 24 June 2014. This morning we went to the Summer Palace, which was on yesterday’s schedule.

Day 177 2 Kings 6; Mark 7
Woke up ca.7am… Janet had set the alarm for 7.30am; she got up some ¼-hour later; and I used the bathroom when she vacated it. We went down for breakfast, then returned to the room.



Thursday 26 June 2014 — 09:12:28
View from our hotel window


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 09:14:44
View from our hotel window, showing the “octal graph-paper” effect of the walls


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 09:17:40
The most commonly seen duplex electrical socket outlet


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 09:18:08
The sometimes-seen universal electrical socket outlet

Just before the scheduled pick-up time of 9.30am went down to the lobby. Max was our guide today, and Steve took “Coach B”. It was a very hot day, as usual hazy but bright — perhaps naturally hazy, but there were also fumes from the never-ceasing traffic captured in it.


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 09:37:04
On “Coach A” at the start of our outing to the Summer Palace

Our destination was the Summer Palace, dating from the mid-18th century, though torched twice and restored subsequently: in 1860 in the Second Opium War, and in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion.


Beijing Summer Palace Map, found subsequently on the internet


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 10:27:06
Entering the East Gate of the Summer Palace


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 10:28:32
Proceeding westward

Shortly after we entered, Max took us to a map and showed us the main features: the large lake, Kunming Lake (“heart-shaped,” he said); the hill to the north of it (Longevity Hill) — both artificial — and the Long Corridor, curving around the north of the lake, and ending near the Marble Boat.


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 10:30:16
Max points out the main features of the Summer Palace.


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 10:40:54
“Qilin” (hoofed chimerical creature) in front of the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 10:41:22
Often seen in Chinese gardens: natural rock formation


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 10:43:50
Dragon and phoenix

Max led us to the shore of Kunming Lake. He pointed out the South Lake Island, Seventeen-Arch Bridge and adjacent on-shore Pavilion, likening them to the body, neck and head of a turtle. (I didn’t have the impression that this similitude was of his own making, though I’ve not found it expressed elsewhere.)


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 10:49:08
“Willow Pattern”-like feature on Kunming Lake


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 10:49:38
Tower of Buddhist Incense (left) and Sea of Wisdom Temple (right) on the south-facing slope of the hill


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 10:51:02
Distant pagoda


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 10:51:48
Zoomed-in view of Tower of Buddhist Incense and Sea of Wisdom Temple


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 10:55:16
South Lake Island and Seventeen-Arch Bridge

He led us northwards along the east shore of the lake, and took us into the first building on the north side. It was joined at both ends to walled corridors punctuated with little windows all of different shapes. In the building were various exhibits, including photos of the despotic, villainous Empress Dowager Cixi, who died in 1908, and her nephew whom she installed as the Guangxu Emperor — who also died in 1908, one day before she did, leading to speculation that knowing she was near death she poisoned him because she was afraid of him reversing her policies after her death. It was said that she angered the admirals by appropriating naval funds to spend on the Summer Palace.


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:04:46
Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908)


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:08:02
Emperor Guangxu (1871–1908)

Max led us out through the door on the opposite side northwards into the courtyard, where he told us some things about the Long Corridor, e.g. the many thousands of paintings, all different, before leading us to the west into it. He said that at 728m it was the longest corridor in the world — but I said to Janet, “What about the corridor in Florence?” (i.e. the Vasari Corridor, “almost 1km”, according the one internet source) “and the one in Rome?” (i.e. the Passetto di Borgo, “approximately 800m long”, according to Wikipedia).


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:10:18
The court of the Hall of Happiness and Longevity


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:23:00
Entering the Long Corridor through the Gate for Greeting the Moon


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:23:10
Zoomed-in view down the Long Corridor from the same position as “11:23:00”


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:24:32
Artwork near the start of the Long Corridor


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:24:52
Artwork on the crossbeams of the Long Corridor


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:25:50
Artwork to the left of one of the crossbeams


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:25:58
Artwork on the crossbeam itself


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:26:12
Artwork to the right of the crossbeam


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:27:28
First of two pavilions punctuating this part of the Long Corridor — looking forward


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:27:48
First of two pavilions punctuating this part of the Long Corridor — looking back


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:30:12
Second pavilion and leftward curve in the Long Corridor


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:32:58
Rightward curve in the Long Corridor


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:34:34
Rightward and leftward corners in the Long Corridor

We left the Long Corridor at its halfway point, to look at the gate there, then continued the rest of its length walking to the left of it along the tree-lined promenade, to see the Marble Boat.


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:36:18
Glowing Clouds and Holy Land Archway


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:36:50
Within the Gate of Dispelling Clouds


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:37:42
Continuation of the Long Corridor from the Gate of Dispelling Clouds


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:38:56
Max points out the lioness in front and to the left of the Gate of Dispelling Clouds.


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:39:32
Close-up view of a cub beneath the lioness’s paw


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:42:20
Lion on the opposite side


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:42:32
Close-up view of an orb beneath the lion’s paw


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:43:48
Walking on the promenade parallel to the rest of the Long Corridor


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:45:10
Passing a pavilion on the Long Corridor


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:45:54
South Lake Island (right), Seventeen-Arch Bridge, and Spacious Pavilion (left)


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:49:04
Pavilion at the end of the Long Corridor

Empress Dowager Cixi, Max told us, would sit on the upper deck of the Marble Boat, not looking out over the lake direct but looking at the reflection in the mirror. Somewhere near this location I saw one of the party eating ice-cream, ascertained where he got it from, and went there myself for a Magnum ice-cream lolly.


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:50:14
The Marble Boat


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 11:50:14
The Marble Boat — detail

After that we made our way to the North Gate exit from the site, then walked round to where the coaches were parked.


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 12:11:02
Gate Tower of Cloud-Retaining Eaves


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 12:12:24
Trees in “combat uniform”


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 12:13:48
Bridges on the way to the North Gate


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 12:14:40
View of the left bridge from the right bridge on the way to the North Gate

Everyone on “Coach A” with one exception, and Harry and Paula the comical couple from “Coach B”, had put ¥50 each in an envelope to show their appreciation to Max, and had written comments and wishes with their names on a piece of paper circulated unbeknown to him. Alison, who’d organised it, went forward and presented the envelope to him.


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 12:41:30
Alison presents Max with a gift from most of the “Coach A” people (and from a couple in “Coach B”).

Then we went for lunch in a massive, steel-and-glass, convex-curved skyscraper called Sinosteel Plaza, the usual arrangement of multiple dishes on a central lazy-Susan. The “Coach B” people were already there, and we sat in two seats that were still available next to Harry and Paula. They were with the vegetarians, which resulted in a greater choice for us: the meat dishes that every table had, and the vegetables-only dishes prepared for the vegetarians. I’d left my bulky camera on the coach, so when I wanted to take some photos I used Janet’s compact camera which she had in her bag.


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 13:16:32
Lunch at Sinosteel Plaza, headquarters of Sinosteel Corporation


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 13:17:18
Lunch at Sinosteel Plaza, headquarters of Sinosteel Corporation


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 13:44:56
Decorative feature in Sinosteel Plaza


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 13:45:10
Golden Buddha opposite the feature shown in “13:44:56”


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 13:45:38
Waiting for a lift to go down to the ground floor


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 13:48:06
Sinosteel Plaza reception area


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 13:48:42
Sinosteel Plaza building

Most of the tour group were going on an optional tour to the remains of an old Chinese community, and to a pearl factory, and they boarded one coach; but we and some four others went back to the hotel and boarded the other. We “crawled” back in bumper-to-bumper traffic. We’d have liked to have gone, but Janet wanted to pack and do one or two other things in the afternoon, so as to be able to go to bed early without having to do it in the evening. I’d have been able to muster the energy if we’d arranged to go on the optional tour; but knowing that we weren’t going on it, I gave way to feeling “under the weather” because of a bad cold I’d got.


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 13:58:12
Nearby McDonald’s


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 14:31:54
Our hotel, on the opposite side of the 3rd Ring Road
(The traffic doesn’t look as dense in the opposite direction, as it was in ours.)


Thursday 26 June 2014 — 13:33:14
Crossing the 3rd Ring Road from its side road to get to the hotel
(I took this photo to show the great density of slow-moving traffic on the Ring Road in the direction we’d just come.)

Copied the ten photos I took latterly today with Janet’s camera to the WD Elements HDD (14:58–14:59). Rotated the photos that needed it (15:07–15:08). Meanwhile, Janet first of all went out to the shops, then on return started packing the suitcases. I edited the ten photos with Photoshop (15:13–15:39). Wrote two of the postcards purchased yesterday, one to Chris and one to Mum, then went down to reception and handed them over to be posted (¥5 each). The people who’d gone on the optional trip were arriving back, and I ascended in the lift with Herma and Steve. I listed the numbers of the floors in Dutch, and Herma said, “Heel goed!” I said that I’d said “Heel goed!” to the couple (Harry and Paula) who lived in Belgium, after I’d heard them conversing in Dutch with Herma, but they hadn’t recognised the expression. Changed the dressing on the right thumb; the upper digit seemed no worse or perhaps slightly better and the still-suppurating area had partly healed over. That seems to be the rule: the less there is to see, the more it hurts. Transferred the 49 photos from today from my camera to the WD Elements HDD (16:39–16:41). Rotated the ones that needed it (16:45–16:49). At 5.30pm we headed off for our Beijing Duck dinner. There were about five other dishes as well as sliced duck (not shredded crispy duck as I’ve had previously), pancakes, thin-sliced spring onions and cucumber and hoisin sauce (not as sweet as it usually is back home). There was also a glass of Chinese-produced red wine in additional to the usual beer. I had Janet’s wine also. We were back at the hotel by ca.8pm. We were in bed before 9pm because of the early start tomorrow. Propped myself up with three pillows because otherwise I felt I couldn’t breathe because of the bad cold that started perhaps yesterday.

[Friday 27 June 2014]



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