I went to Beijing in 2004 (I think..) and it was a truly unforgettable experience. I really enjoyed myself there!
I was very excited that time when my friend suggested that we can go to Beijing. I have been hoping to go there because I was so crazy over opera at that time. I can finally see the home of chinese opera. Unfortunately, there wasn't any major performance going on when I was there so I watched a 'for tourist' performance which consisted of 3 excerpts, Qiu Jiang, Ling Bo Xian zi and another one, I cannot remember. This performance was catered for tourists but still their performance was good. The ticket was ex. I remember it was $30(SGD). That is considered expensive in China.
Of course I did not miss out going to the Forbidden City when I was there.
Taken at Tian An Men. I was there at 9am and there was already a huge crowd. We inched our way into Tian An Men to purchase tickets. I forgot how much the ticket was already but I remembered that we finished touring it at 4pm! That was like 7 hours spent in the Forbidden City. Of course some people can finish touring the whole place in maybe 1-2 hours but since I was there and I don't know when I will be there again, I took my time to visit all the mini exhibitions, look at all the artifacts and visit all the chambers. Unfortunately, parts of the palace was closed for renovation at that time. I think they are renovating for Olympics.
There are always people who said that the palace was renovated, it is no longer original.. blah blah blah... but hey, if they didn't do any maintanence work on it, the whole palace would have collapsed by now and we wouldn't be able to see a single thing. I'd rather have this maintained palace than nothing at all. Anyway, the palace was burnt down a few times in Qing dynasty and was rebuilt quite a few times so it doesn't make such a diff.
Conclusion, I think adequate maintainence renovation is needed for such historical sites to prevent it from corroding.
That said, let's move on to the next photo.
The imperial court, Tai He Dian. That was where the emperor sits. Yes, the one you see in Huan Zhu Ge Ge. May is crazy for Huan Zhu Ge Ge lor... What's the big deal? May, you can imagine yourself to be emperor and sit at that gold dragon chair.
Digression: I went to this opera equipment shop in Beijing and saw that they sell those huan zhu ge ge shoes. I wanted to buy at that time because they looked so cute! But eventually I didn't buy cuz I don't have much use to it. Now I regretted because they are so cute. I think I will get a pair when I go to GZ.
Zhen Fei Well. The story goes that Zhen fei was the emperor's favourite concubine but Ci Xi didn't like Zhen Fei. So she threw her into this well when the emperor was not around. The well look so small. That is because later on people changed it to be like this.
There was a photo of Zhen Fei in the palace mini exhibition hall. She is a little plump but sweet looking lor.
Cixi's summer palace. We went there on another day and it was big~ Very big.. I thought that we can maybe visit this palace for half a day then move on for shopping or what. In the end we spent another whole day there.
View from the top of Cixi's resort. There is this big resort thingy on top of a hill overlooking the lake below. We went boating on this lake, it was fun! I got a chance to manouveur the boat, it was the first time I did something like that and I liked it.
Me overlooking at another side of the summer palace. There was this small suzhou town inside which they built copying a street in Suzhou. I also made my first stone stamp here too. I think it was SGD28 only for 2. 1 with my surname and the other with my name engraved. It was nice. I started stamping all my letters to my penpals with this stamp. :)
Shopping day! Never forget to go Wang Fu Jing if you are in Beijing. It is like what orchard means to Singapore. There isn't much to buy there but I went there for lunch sometimes. The food are nice and cheap even in the restaurants. The clothes there however are expensive. They are of the same price as SG. I don't know why but anyway I didn't buy any clothes.
There was an alley in Wang fu Jing where there are various small food stalls and accessories stalls. I bought some accessories there and they are very cheap. The food was nice too. It is something like the food street in chinatown. And in this Wang Fu Jing food street, there is a 'shophouse' with a wide balcony. We took a seat in front of this balcony because there will be opera peformance. It is a very local sort of thing to eat and watch the performance. The wide balcony was very old and the actors did not put on anything glamourous. Just a simple costume and they just sing most of the time. Can't afford to do those fancy martial arts on this old balcony can you?
BTW, when we were there, the locals started chatting with me and my friend. Maybe because my friend is a caucasian so they are interested to talk, I don't know. They keep guessing that I am from some other parts of china and were very surprised when I told them I am Singaporean. To them, Singaporeans cannot speak chinese. Weird. Most of the time, my friend just sit there bewildered, couldn't understand a word we said.
我站在柳絮扎眼寂寞胡同... Heard of this song before? By Tank and Selina.. You might wander what is a 胡同. That is in the photo above, a small alley among those old traditional chinese houses.
There are lots and lots of hu tongs in Beijing but unfortunately they are disappearing fast because of development. The opera shops that I mentioned were in on of these hutongs. There was a row of hutong selling opera stuff. Anything about opera you want to buy, they have it and they are of GOOD quality. A bit ex tho for those prime qualtiy ones.
Last but not least, the GREAT WALL OF CHINA! Tell me about it man.. Tell me that it's not original blah blah blah..
Like I said, it is absolutely neccessary to reconstruct the great wall else it will be reduced to nothing in another 10 years. I went to the Mu Tian Yu great wall instead of the famous Ba Da Ling because there are few tourists in Mu Tian Yu. However, Mu Tian Yu is a little further than Ba Da Ling. You can imagine our taxi fares. RMB300 to take us there and back. That is SGD60. The great wall is an hour's drive away from the city of Beijing. Quite far away and you cant get there unless you find some agency with a tourist bus. My white friend is very 'gu mo' and the idea of taking a bus with other peopl around doesn't appeal. So yea, we paid for the cab to take us there and back.
The great wall was indeed very spectacular~ We decided to climb our way up instead of taking the cable car. It was super tiring but worth it as you can slowly see great wall appearing in front of you. I was very excited when I caught a glimpse of it. Magnificent.
The air was fresher here. Beijing is a VERY VERY VERY polluted city and the air at Mu Tian Yu was so so much fresher and sweeter. The wind was very cooling too as we were on top of a hill. After visiting Mu Tian Yu, we took a go-cart to glide down the hill.
Overall, I enjoyed my trip there very very much.. I hope to go there again.. any takers? anyone interested?