Canada, China · 15 Days · 82 Moments · April 2018

Jessica & Alex in China

17 April 2018

To end our journey: drinks at the airport in Vancouver. Finally almost home. Been living Tuesday April 17 for almost 2 days now. No sleep. We smell. Glad to have a Canadian bathroom.

16 April 2018

Our last meal in Beijing was of course duck (3 days in a row is fine right?) and some dumplings. Just a quick stop before the masses ass hit the airport.
Last day in Nanjing :( exploring around town one last time then hung out at the train station playing cards and drinking piju. Was a tight sleep on the top bunks. Didn’t sleep that much on the train but a cool experience.

15 April 2018

We finally managed to get into the number one restaurant in Nanjing. The food was amazing, though we both agreed that the food the night before may have been better, it was worth coming back and experiencing. When we left there were at least 50 people waiting to get in so they must all feel the way too.
It was a beautiful afternoon filled with some sad history but also had us discussing the strength of a nation. Surviving something this awful is luckily something I have never even come close to. We are very fortunate to have the lives we do.
More remains found in this area and protected.
Everything in this small park in the middle of the city had a purpose and so much meaning.
There was so much reported around the world at the time and so many times it was lessened by the Japanese propaganda. There is an ending to all this with a world court deciding the fate of the leaders during this invasion. Though no true justice will ever be served when so many lives were lost but peace was made and it is something that is celebrated and never forgotten here in Nanjing.
There were a small group of foreigners living and teaching in Nanjing at the time from Britain, Germany and the US to name a few. They all band together to create refuge camps and save as many people as they could. These stories were so beautiful.
The locals were being raped and pillaged. I took no pictures of these photos and articles as it was just to much to read the first time. People and homes being destroyed in such a senseless way.
Human remains were found through the city many years later. So many unmarked graves and lost families.
We spent hours reading all the pictures, diary inserts, news paper articles from around the world. So many stories were shared it was impossible to capture it all. His story of Chen Degui brought tears to my eyes and is something I will never forget.
The amount of people China had to fight this battle could not compare the the artillery that Japan came prepared with.
They really tried to recreate the feeling and the sight of this city at the time of the invasion.
This is the story........
More than 300,000 people were killed in a matter of weeks. An invasion that was never supposed to happen. An act that no one was prepared for.
These all lines the outside of the museum. Such chilling pieces of art work.
Today we decided to see a very real part of history. Something we didn’t even know about but really affected the lives of the people of Nanjing. Today we visited The Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders. Such an incredibly sad story and the pictures really can not pick up on the feeling and the sheer magnitude of what happened.

14 April 2018

The last part of our adventure on this huge park was seeing the National Government Chairman former residents. This was pretty neat. After a long day in the park we decided to go find some of the best duck in town. We were disappointed to find out the wait would be more than 2 hours so we decided to do what we do best and look for a random spot that feels right. We were blown away by their saltwater cooked duck and braised pork belly. Just amazing. Being that I was still deathly ill and miserable because I could hardly breathe it was an early night for us again and probably another semi-relaxing day tomorrow
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s mausoleums was a zoo! Once we find out more about who he was we will update this bit yeah, there were thousands of people clubbing these monster steps trying to get to this area. I would like to point out too that this was not an easy spot to get to on foot. Most people took a bus. We walked for an hour.
The pathway leading up to the mausoleum was paved with stone animals from lions and horses to unicorns.
There are so many beautiful gardens and so much great in this park! We made our way to a mausoleum that celebrates and talks about other mausoleums throughout China. It was very interesting so see how long it took, the sheer size of them all and who is actually buried in them.
Yesterday was adventure day (even though by Alex’s words - “you look like death”) we powered up by finding me some “hot” tea and mango juice and set forth to plum blossom hill. This whole park was HUGE! There were so many areas but again the history lesson needs to wait. I will also mention we managed to get ourselves lost at least twice on this little journey.

13 April 2018

The number 2 restaurant on TripAdvisor in Nanjing is an Irish pub. We successfully found it where we had some snacks and a good chat with the owner (a Scottish man oddly) and then grabbed some chicken burgers and beer to have at home to finish off our relaxing day. Plus my cold managed to get so much worse as the day progressed.
We saw a museum of old Chinese school history. From student IDs, report cards, notes, letters and diplomas. This was actually quite interesting seeing original artifacts. Also there is no where in China to get hot tea apparently. It’s all luke warm but the second you ask for water anywhere it comes out piping hot.
Confucius himself (again no history lesson just what we can remember) was a bit of a philosopher but mostly just a fortune teller. He was highly regarded in many regions but was very quick to judge the actions of those around him. If he deemed it unfit for his presence he moved on to the next town. He was a bit of a nomad because of this.
The path leading to Confucius was paved with these , his disciples. As we later learned Confucius rolled with quite the entourage.
So 2 days ago we decided to give ourselves a lazy day off. We stayed in bed past noon watching cartoons and eating ramen. I unfortunately managed to get a nasty head cold so it was a much needed day off of rest for me too. Once the rain had stopped (mostly anyway) we divided some fresh air would be good and set forth to Confucius Temple just down the street from us. Google doesn’t work in China so I have had to rely on Bing and for some reason Bing doesn’t love Nanjing so the history lesson will have to wait until we get back to Canada.

12 April 2018

We tried to squeeze in one last activity before heading back but they wouldn’t let us into the palaeontology museum. I was not impressed with that. For supper we decided on some hot pot (a very horrendous story with a happy ending) followed by messages and pedicures. Perfect end to the day.
Once we reached the other side of the wall we decided to explore this huge park on the water. We saw 2 separate brides having a photo shoot as well as a weird fake tree festival ground. Overall they had the most beautiful and serene gardens we have ever seen.
With all the exploring through the park we accidentally found the wall! It was no great wall but it sure was a beautiful view. Of course it started to rain as soon as we got up there. We kept going anyway, there were very few people around making it our own little private spot.
Upon arriving at the park we were handed some inscents (have never had to spell this word on my life, not even sure if it’s close) to burn. We were very confused. As we climbed the stairs we were met with many pavilions containing gold statues with offerings and people praying/chanting. I wish we were able to take pictures but we figured it would probably be disrespectful even if there was no sign saying we can’t. At the top near a very tall temple we found out what we were suppose to do with the yellow sticks. I’m not too sure what we were praying to so I just asked for good health and happiness for our families. This whole park seemed to be a sort of shrine to many different people and gods. I feel bad we didn’t quite know what to do but we did give offerings (money) to Buddha in exchange for his picture.
We started our day off kinda lazy. The weather looked gross even though it was warm, that wind really brought it down. we hoped on the subway with the intentions of heading to Nanjing City wall. We some how got distracted/detoured Xuanwuhu Park. We weren’t sure what it was but decided to just go with it.

11 April 2018

So the cost of alcohol in China is ridiculously cheap. All that beer and vodka for only $10 (Canadian)! We ventured out to find some dumplings. Luckily for us there are a million restaurants within a few blocks of our residence. We settled on this little hole in the wall/kinda sketchy/definite health code violation spot were we mustered through ordering and Alex failed at chopsticks to add to our humiliation for the day. There was smoking old men with cute dogs to go with our unrecognizable meat dumplings. We finished the day off with a mellow 15,000 steps and some nice cool beers ❤️
Exploring around our home in Nanjing we found the most touristy spot we could. It was a nice relaxed day in the blazing heat. People literally pointed, stared, took pictures and laughed at me in my shorts. Was not thrilled about that but it was very very hot today.
Left Beijing early this morning and hoped on a train to Nanjing. It is extremely hot and humid and omg the allergy season is bad here. Our AirBNB is beautiful and located so close to all this amazing food. Looks like Nanjing will be our little vacation rest spot.

10 April 2018

Lost stop on our last day/night in Beijing.... Olympic Stadium Park! A lot of travel sights recommended seeing it at night and we understand why. It was beautiful! No large crowds and all the lights were insane. We didn’t get to go into any of the buildings but it was pretty cool seeing the sight of the not only the 2008 Olympics but the future 2022 ones!
On our walk through the city part of Beijing ( it the history side of the city) we saw some cool buildings, a couple embassies, and a random 10 story Russian mall! Very odd little shops but cool to look around. We also happened to stumble upon the silk market. Total accident. Very cool experience. You can’t really tell from the outside of the building that it is a shopping centre and we were honestly just looking for a bathroom but it was a happy surprise that pit is back an extra hour in our evening plans.
After our adventure in the park we hoped on the subway and picked a random stop to adventure from. We found another park, Temple of Sun Park. It has a great community feel to it with an incredible garden. We stayed a little while and soaked up the sun before deciding to find our way back to our hostel.
During the Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, Jingshan Park served as an imperial garden and was properly laid out under the Ming Dynasty when numerous fruit trees were planted as well as many palaces and pavilions built for the emperor to make sacrifices to his ancestors. As a result, the royal families always enjoyed amusements here, like hunting in the hills. Then, in 1928, it was opened to the public. Later, after 1949, the park was fully rebuilt, with the paths in it paved and most of the buildings renovated. We were actually being blown over by the intense 40km winds at the top of the hill. Nice breeze for a hot day.
Literally flip flop weather and everyone was looking at us funny when we were applying sunscreen. Situated in the center of Beijing, Jingshan Park is a beautiful royal landscape garden. Covering an area of 57 acres (about 230,000 square meters), the park stands on the central point of the south-north axis of the city and faces the north gate of the Forbidden City. It is found on Jingshan Hill, which was originally named Wansui Hill (Long Live Hill), Zhen Hill or Meishan Hill (Coal Hill). The mid summit of the hill is the highest point in Beijing. Looking from the peak, the visitor is able to get a full and clear view of the Forbidden City.
We started off our day rather late not wanting to pull ourselves out of bed. Eventually we ventured out in search of food. We found the most amazing bakery that had us going back for seconds. It was a blistering hot day but the wind was insane! Along the way to Jingshan Park we decided it was after noon so it was acceptable for some road beers since it was +24.

9 April 2018

Back into Beijing where we found another great little hole in the wall and finally some soup dumplings!! It is still +18 so we decided on flip-flops for our street market adventure. We were definitely made fun of by the locals who are still in their parkas. We didn’t quite hit 20,000 steps today but we did climb 94 flights of stairs on the Great Wall of China. A much more mellow day for us and my poor knees.
We took a luge down! Wait until you see the videos. And we were the only ones wearing shorts. As if we don’t stand out enough on our own, ring the only ones in shorts made it so that all eyes were on us. Perfect. It was such a nice casual day. It was 21 degrees outside and we met some pretty cool people along the way.
7) Big Corner Tower (No. 1 Watchtower) is connected with Mutianyu in the west, with Gubeikou in the east, and with a branch city wall in the south. The tower looks like a corner from each angle, so it is called Big Corner Tower. 8) It is one of the best-preserved sections. 9) Some of the watchtowers are seldom seen along other sections and quite rare in the architectural history of the Great Wall.
4) Both sides of the Great Wall have parapets to defend against enemies. Some parapets are saw- tooth shaped instead of the regular rectangular form. Below the parapets, there are square embrasures, the top of which are designed in an arc structure, different from the traditional round embrasures. 5) There are 23 watchtowers distributed at close intervals along the wall. They are located not only in the main wall but also at the distinctive "branch city". Branch cities are built on the hill ridge against the inner or outer side of the wall. For example, No. 11 Watchtower can be found on the branch wall. 6) Zhengguan Terrace (No. 6 Watchtower) is 44 yards (40 meters) long, 33 yards (30 meters) wide, and 66 feet (20 meters) high. The gate is not designed in the middle, but is on the eastern side. The two-storey terrace is comprised of three hollow watchtowers, a large one in the middle and two smaller ones on two sides. It has many rooms to store grain and station troops.
Fun facts about Mutianyu Great Wall: 1) It has a total length of 3.4 miles (5,400 meters). 2) It was first built in Northern Qi Dynasty (550-557). In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Tan Lun and Qi Jiguang, two famous patriotic generals, rebuilt it in order to strengthen its defensive potential when they guarded the strategic pass. It served as the northern protective screen, guarding the capital and imperial mausoleums for generations. 3) It is mainly made of slabs of granite. It measures 23 feet (7 meters) to 26 feet (8 meters) in height, and 4 yards (4 meters) to 5 yards (5 meters) in width.

8 April 2018

We finished off our trip with a couple of road beers as we made our way back to the subway station. We decided to forgo our afternoon nap in favour of a much needed supper. We walk around our new favourite street until we found a little hole in the wall (filled with what looked like mafia men) and had the most delicious local food. Not quite 30,000 steps today but so much seen! Walking around that lake and park took 7 hours and it was the most spectacular sight. Tomorrow’s adventure.... The Great Wall!
Upon entering the palace gate of Garden of Harmonious Interests, visitors would be greeted by a wonderful panorama. Surrounded by slopes on three sides, with a lotus pond at its centre, the garden was comprised of seven pavilions, five halls, numerous corridors and small bridges, all arranged with profusion and elegance. The scene was mirrored in the pond, which was the focus of the garden's natural surroundings, and released a delicate fragrance of lotus. The garden used to be the fishing site of Empress Dowager Cixi . It is said that every time Cixi went to fish, eunuchs secretly dived into the water and hung live fish on her hook, to keep her in good spirits. The garden is remarkable for its eight settings, each with its particular theme. The eight settings are Zaishi Hall, the Momiao Room, Jiuyun Tower, Danbi House, Shuile Pavilion, Zhiyu Bridge, Xunshi Path, and Hanguang Hole.
Garden of Harmonious Interests (Xiequyuan) - Situated beside Kunming Lake, at the bottom of the Eastern side of Longevity Hill, the Garden of Harmonious Interests, with its exquisite design and distinctive layout, is known as the "garden in the gardens" Amongst the gardens of Northern China, its style is the most representative of the classical gardens of Southern China. When Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) conducted an inspection of South China in 1751, he developed a great affection for the Jichuangyuan Gardens in Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province, and ordered that a similar garden be built in the Summer Palace and named Huishan Garden. This was the precursor to the Garden of Harmonious Interests. In 1811, it was repaired and given its present name. The garden was rebuilt again in 1893 after its destruction in 1860.
Rear Area of Longevity Hill - It is quiet as compared to Front Hill Area in Summer Palace. Most constructions were never able to be repaired after wars, only a few ruins are left. In the axis of Rear Hill Area, there used to be a religious building group-Houda Temple, a composite structure with both Han and Tibetan characters. Although the constructions are fewer here, it has a unique landscape with dense green trees and winding paths. Strolling here, visitors can feel a rare tranquility and elegance. Famous scenic spots include Garden of Harmonious Interests, Hall of Increasing Longevity, Four Great Regions, Presence of Virtue Temple and Hall of Serenity, etc.
Front Area of Longevity Hill - This is the most magnificent area with the most constructions. It is symmetrically laid out in east and west many delicate buildings and graceful gardens with the south-facing Tower of Buddhist Incense as the central axis. Walking up to the hilltop, on which lots of important buildings are positioned, including Hall of Dispelling Clouds, Hall of Moral Glory, Baoyun Bronze Pavilion, Revolving Archives, Hall of the Sea of Wisdom, etc.
Court area - It is located in the northeast of the Summer Palace, and it spreads from East Palace Gate to the northeast coast of Kunming Lake. This was a substitute where Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu met officials and conducted state affairs. With the same pattern of the imperial palace of China-'Palace in front and garden behind', the Court Area consists of sections for both court affairs and living. East Palace Gate and Hall of Benevolence and Longevity served as office of the Emperor. The Hall of Jade Ripples was for Guangxu to live in and the Hall of Joyful Longevity for Cixi. There are also the Garden of Virtue and Harmony where Cixi was entertained and Yiyun Hall where once lived the Empress Longyu.
The construction of Summer Palace started in 1750 as a luxurious royal garden for royal families to rest and entertain. It later became the main residence of royal members in the end of the Qing Dynasty. However, like most of the gardens of Beijing, Summer Palace could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French Allied Force and was destroyed by fire. According to historical documents, with original name as 'Qingyi Garden' (Garden of Clear Ripples), the Summer Palace (Yiheyuan) was renamed after its first reconstruction in 1888. It was also recorded that Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it as a resort in which to spend the rest of her life. In 1900, Yiheyuan suffered another hit by the Eight-Power Allied Force and was repaired in the next two years. In 1924, it was open to the public.
Today was our light and easy day at Summer palace. We finally have the warm and sunny we have been begging for! Being the largest and most well-preserved royal park in China, it greatly influences Chinese horticulture and landscape with its famous natural views and cultural interests, which also has long been recognized as 'The Museum of Royal Gardens'. Kunming lake - The area covers a larger part, and opens up the vista of Kunming Lake, as well as the sights around Back Lake (Houxi River). East Causeway of the lake is connected to the West Causeway by Long Gallery, which both were interspersed with pavilions, bridges and wharfs. Famous attractions amongst this area are numerous, including Seventeen-Arch Bridge, Bronze Ox, Nanhu Island, Hall of Embracing the Universe, Spacious Pavilion, Pavilion of Bright Scenery, Marble Boat, Suzhou Market Street, etc.

7 April 2018

On top of the Jade Flowery Islet, the White Dagoba was built in 1651 on the former site of the Palace in the Moon where Kublai Khan received Marco Polo. At the suggestion of a famous Tibetan lama, Emperor Shunzhi, the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty agreed to build such a Tibetan dagoba to show his belief in Buddhism and his desire for the unification among various Chinese ethnic groups. The White Dagoba was destroyed in an earthquake and reconstructed twice. Now, resting on a huge stone base, it stands 120 feet (37 meters) high and is capped by two bronze umbrella-like canopies, with 14 bronze bells hanging around them. Inside, the dagoba holds the Buddhist Scriptures, the monk's mantle and alms bowl and two pieces of Sarira. Since the White Dagoba is the highest point in it, it served as a vantage point with a beautiful view of the whole scenic spot.
Actually, Beihai Park was initially built in the Liao Dynasty (916 - 1125) and was repaired and rebuilt in the following dynasties including Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing (1115 - 1911). The large-scale rebuilding in the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) generally established the present scale and pattern. In 1925, it was first opened to the public, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world every year. Beihai Park covers an area of about 175 acres (70 hectares), more than half of which is taken up by the lake. In the middle of the lake and on the central axis of the whole park lies the Jade Flowery Islet, topped by the imposing White Dagoba which is the landmark. Besides the Jade Flowery Islet, it has four main scenic areas: the Eastern Shore Area, the Northern Shore Area, the Botanical Garden and the Circular City near the north gate.
After another 30,000 step day we (mostly me) are broken and exhausted. We found another cool little place to eat on our search for the night market ...... still have yet to find it......... where we feasted on fried rice with beef and broccoli and finished it off with more dumplings. We found a “pharmacy” which was mostly holistic medicine since western pharmacies are nonexistent, grabbed some tiger balm in bandage form and turned in for the night. Within seconds of our heads hitting the pillows we were out!
It was believed that different mountain-water combinations in ancient Chinese architecture led to totally different effects. So from then on, almost every emperor during the succeeding dynasties would build a royal garden with one-pool-with-three-hills' layout as a fairyland near his palace. It was surely built after this traditional style: the water of Beihai (Northern Sea) with Zhongnanhai (Central and Southern Seas) is the Taiye Pool; the Jade Flowery (Qionghua) Islet, the island of the Circular City and the Xishantai Island represent the three magic mountains.
Beihai Park is said to be built according to a traditional Chinese legend. The story is that once upon a time there were three magic mountains called 'Penglai', 'Yingzhou' and 'Fangzhang' located to the east of Bohai Bay (to the east of China). Gods in those mountains had a kind of herbal medicine which would help humans gain immortality. Consequently, many emperors in the feudal age of China constantly sought those mountains. For example, Emperor Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 - 206 B.C.), wanted to live an eternal life and had sent people to look for the magic mountains but they failed. Then at his palace, he dug a large pool and piled up three earth hills in it to imitate the circumstances described in the legend. Emperor Wudi, the fifth emperor of the Western Han Dynasty (202 B.C. - 8 A.D.) did similar things.
With the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park to its east, Zhongnanhai (Central and Southern Seas) to its south, Beihai Park, also known as Northern Sea Park, is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved ancient imperial gardens in China located in center of Beijing. This ancient garden, with over 1,000 years' history, is not only a classic combination of the grandiosity of the northern gardens and the refinement of the southern gardens in China, but also a perfect integration of magnificent imperial palaces and solemn religious constructions.
Today the weather was finally on our side! The wind made it a little chilly but the sun was exactly what we needed. We decided to take it easy today since I had a little trip yesterday and my knee has been giving me problems ever since. Our alarms went off at 7, we didn’t actually get up until after 9. It was magical. We decided to forgo a traditional breakfast for some hot pot since it was brunch time anyway. Best decision we have made yet! It was an incredible build your own soup bowl style place and it was heavenly! After that we decided to make our way over to Beihai park for the afternoon. After we stoped for ice cream of course! .....and some street food for me :)

6 April 2018

Covering an area of 2,700,000 square meters (3,529,412 square yards), Temple of Heaven is larger than the Forbidden City. As the 'Sons of Heaven', Chinese emperors were precluded from building a dwelling for themselves that was greater than the earthly residence dedicated to Heaven hence the difference in overall size of the two complexes. The temple is enclosed by a long wall. The northern part within the wall is semicircular symbolizing the heavens and the southern part is square symbolizing the earth. The northern part is higher than the southern part. This design shows that the heaven is high and the earth is low and the design reflected an ancient Chinese thought of 'the heaven is round and the earth is square'.
We finish our day off with a stroll through Tiananmen Square (a much longer walk than we anticipated) which is home to the Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People's Heroes, Great Hall of the People, Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall and see the national flag raising ceremony. Thousands of people come to the Square every day. There was definitely thousands of people there today. Even with this cool weather, every major landmark has had so many people visiting. We didn’t spend too much time here as both of us were extremely tired and worn out from the day so we found the subway (becoming pros at the Beijing transit system) and made our way back to our hostel for a nap. After a quick snooze we made our way into the most amazing dumpling shop were we stuffed our faces with pork and beer finishing off our day with more than 30,000 steps. Tomorrow we are taking it easy with hopefully a spa day and more amazing food and the crazy night market.
Located in the southwest of the Altar of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Palace of Abstinence is where the emperor fasted before the Heaven Worship Ceremony began. It has several distinctive buildings, such as the Beamless Hall, the Rest Palace, the Belfry, etc. Established by Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty, the annual Worship of Heaven ceremony by the emperor took place here. The ceremony was subject to special regulations for its preparation, place, time, procedures, music and dance. This ceremonial practice confirmed the divine right of emperor and the religious belief of the ancient Chinese people.
Also called the Vermilion Steps Bridge, the Danbi Bridge connects the northern part and the southern part. The south end of the Bridge is lower than its north end. The emperors believed that they could go to heaven by this Bridge, hence the name, Sacred Way. The Sacred way had three routes, the central one was the Imperial Route exclusively used by the Emperor and on one side was the Princes’ Route. On the other side was the route for high officials. Across the Danbi Bridge, you will come to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. It is a big palace with round roof and three layers of eaves, where the emperor held the worship ceremonies to pray for good weather and abundant harvests. It is the earliest building of the Temple of Heaven. It is a complex consisting of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Altar for Grain Prayers.
Located in the southern part of this area, The Circular Altar Mound is actually the Temple of Heaven in the practical sense. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the emperors would offer sacrifice here to Heaven on the day of the Winter Solstice every year. Its famous buildings include the Lingxing Gates, the Lantern Viewing Pole, the Terrace of Worshipping Heaven, the Heaven Heart Stone, the Firewood Stove and the Divine Kitchen Courtyard. Along the middle axis, from the Circular Mound Altar to the north, you will see the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is the place housing the Gods' tablets to be used at the Heaven Worship Ceremony. It is famous for the Echo Wall, Three Echo Stones and the Dialogue Stone, which are all interesting attractions utilizing the theory of sound wave.
The Temple of Heaven Park is located in the Chongwen District, Beijing. Originally, this was the place where emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) held the Heaven Worship Ceremony. It is the largest and most representative existing masterpiece among China's ancient sacrificial buildings. First built in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), Temple of Heaven was enlarged and rebuilt during the reigns of the Ming emperor Jiajing and the Qing emperor Qianlong. In 1988, it was opened to the public as a park, showing ancient philosophy, history and religion. Its grand architectural style and profound cultural connotation give an insight into the practices of the ancient Eastern civilization.
Day 3 in China started off nice and chilly again. Unfortunately it is not warming up for us just yet. The wind was insane even though it was a couple degrees better than the last few have been. Bonus: after barely sleeping because I have been so cold at night, we figured out the heat and are now in a nice and toasty warm room :) After a break fast at the hostel and some phone calls to the family we ventured off to The Temple of Heaven. A quick subway train down made it that much easier. Our first impression was incredible. So many beautiful trees!! Just acres of trees throughout the entire complex. We of course went off the tour path and did our own thing where we discovered people actually talking to these trees? Like up close and whispering. Very odd.
And of course we needed selfies in every area of the complex. Just proof we were actually there. That we walked almost 40,000 steps that day. Walked the same halls as so many emperors from centuries ago. Might I add, it did not warm up at all while we were out there. I literally froze the entire day.

5 April 2018

We made our way back to the mall for some supper where I grabbed a warmer sweater to layer with (much needed later in the evening). We found a place to sit and eat the spiciest beef noodle soup I have ever had. Alex didn’t even add any extra hot sauce to it! We made our way back to the WuMart for supplies and beer and to have a nap as it was now 6pm and we had been out since 8:30. After our nap we went out for a chilly evening stroll to look for a night market (did not see one, will try again tonight). Picked up some playing cards and had a nice relaxing evening back at our freezing hostel to prepare for another day of sight seeing and non stop walking.
Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor (Emperor Chengzu, Zhu Di) of the Ming dynasty. It was completed fourteen years later in 1420, and then the capital city was moved from Nanjing to Beijing the next year. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor. Stone needed was quarried from Fangshan District. It was said a well was dug every fifty meters along the road in order to pour water onto the road in winter to slide huge stones on ice into the city. Huge amounts of timber and other materials were freighted from faraway provinces. There is soooo much more that goes into this palace. I obviously got all this from the website because I can not remember every detail of the princesses, concubines, treasures, sacrifices and traditions these walls held. Asking through the grounds it is hard to imagine all the secrets that are lost and forgotten.
The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some five centuries, Forbidden City houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities. Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in it. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire
Word cannot describe the beauty of this place. The amount of detail and the stories it holds. A little history lesson........ Forbidden City, also known as the Palace Museum, and Gu Gong in Chinese, lies at the city center of Beijing, and once served as the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 - 1911). It was first built throughout 14 years during the reign of Emperor Chengzu in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Ancient Chinese Astronomers believed that the Purple Star (Polaris) was in the center of heaven and the Heavenly Emperor lived in the Purple Palace. The Palace for the emperor on earth was so called the Purple City. It was forbidden to enter without special permission of the emperor. Hence its name 'The Purple Forbidden City', usually 'The Forbidden City' The grounds cover 74 hectares making it the worlds largest palace complex! It is also surrounded by a 52 meter wide moat!
The morning to the forbidden palace stared off really cold. 2 degrees Celsius to be exact. We took off from the hostel to the McDonald’s down the street to see what breakfast had to offer. Nothing like what we are use to! Small portions and chicken with everything, it was actually really good. We took off to our destination which ended up being the wrong way so we had to backtrack a little. Thank god we found a mall! It was so unbelievably cold and neither of us brought winter gear so the new mission was to find a hat. We found an H&M with exactly one pink wool hat left that Alex has now deemed “Penis head”. It was 100% worth it. We made our way along the gate to the main entrance where we were greeted by thousands and thousands of people! It was sheer madness. The lines weren’t too bag though they were long. We have adapted the Chinese custom of just walking up to the front of any line and no one cares. Very scary and very uncanadian.

4 April 2018

We left Canada 22 hours ago. We arrived in beautiful weather only to be greeted with snow on the trek to our hostel. We arrived at the wrong one. So after being herded like cattle through 3 different subway trains and about 40 minutes of lost looking walking, we made it to Happy Dragon. We are cold, wet, hungry and running on virtually no sleep. Tomorrow will begin the adventures.

3 April 2018

The meals in “cattle class” were actually pretty good. Chilli soy pork for lunch and beef with onion gravy for supper. This flight brought us over the mountains in Alaska and Russia. The mountains are definitely my favourite part of these flights. Alex and I are switching between naps and movies. One of us is a grown up. The other is watching cartoons. The never ending supply of rum and vodka are helping.
We really do love in the most beautiful country. Flying over the Rocky Mountains was the best part of this delayed flight.
Starting the journi off right. Airport drinks for day 1 of vacation. Who cares if it’s 5:40am?