A Travel Journal - China Part 2: Beijing, The Great Wall, Ming Dynasty Tombs

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There were people dressed like soldiers with whom we posed. Hema also enjoyed getting photographed with local children. We bought few embroidered wall hangings that were beautiful and were reasonably priced. By 2pm, we came out and caught our taxi back home. It took a long time due to the traffic, and Chao was exploring the country side to avoid the traffic.

We were home by 6pm. Our next Great Wall visit was to the Simatai. We wanted to go during the weekend of July , and explored the possibility of staying in the water town. We booked hotel rooms through booking.

Ming dynasty

It was four of us this time with Vamsi and Bhaskar joining us. We started in the morning and reached the hotel by 1pm. The place all around had similar hotels. We had lunch in the hotel. Next morning, we bought tickets for the Great wall and a bus dropped us to the starting point of the great wall. It was steep climb in some places. Portion between towers one and 10 are rebuilt and most people walk there. There are some portions outside this are in bad shape and are not allowed to pass.

Around We came down and waited for the bus to drop us to the water town. There we had lunch in a restaurant, contacted Chao and returned to Beijing.

It is a great combination of the hills, river and old style buildings. In the evening there was festive atmosphere in the streets of the town. We walked through the streets and visited a Church on the hilltop and a Pagoda. In the central ground, there was a display of acrobatics and show of strength. We had dinner of corns, groundnuts, and barbecue vegetables in an open air restaurant. It was already dark and we proceeded to see the musical fountain. It was an amazing show that had water, lights and fire all in one. I got an opportunity to visit Juyongguan as a part of an office meeting.

About of the middle and top management of the company were taken to a hotel near the great wall for the weekend of August On Saturday afternoon, after the meeting was over, we were taken to Juyongguan by buses. The pass had many different names during former Chinese dynasties. The present pass route was built in the Ming Dynasty and was renovated later.

It was a very important strategic place connecting the inner land and the area near the northern border of China. It was also used to defend the ancient city of Beijing. He calculated that it would need 99, bricks to build the Jiayuguan Pass. The supervisor did not believe him and said if they miscalculated by even one brick, then all the workmen would be punished to do hard work for three years. After the completion of the project, one brick was left behind the Xiwong city gate.

The supervisor was happy at the sight of the brick and ready to punish them. However Yi Kaizhan said with deliberation that the brick was put there by a supernatural being to fix the wall.

A tiny move would cause the collapse of the wall. Therefore the brick was kept there and never moved. It can still be found there today on the tower of the Jiayuguan Pass. The major trek path is circular and has 14 towers. It is very steep in some places. For some time, we were not sure if we have to complete the route or not, as there were many who were tired looking at the scale of the trek. Few of us decided to complete the trek and four of us were the first ones to finish. The view from the wall and towers was amazing with beautiful cloud cover in the sky.

It took about 1 and a half hours to complete the trek and we were down by 4. Huanghuacheng is the only lakeside Great Wall in Beijing. It is one of the top destinations for a Great Wall hiking tour. Visitors can also take a boat to appreciate the Great Wall at Huanghuacheng from a different angle.

Some parts of the wall are supposed to be submerged in the lake.

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It is about 70 kilometers away from Beijing city. Hence the village name is Huanghuacheng. The construction commenced in , two years before the Ming Dynasty — moved its capital to Beijing, and continued for years. Encircling the clear Haoming Lake, this section is 7. A reservoir dam was built on the former site of Xishuiyuguan Pass, near the entrance to the scenic area.

There is a chestnut garden at the mountain foot. It was planted by soldiers of the Ming Dynasty, who were assigned to stand guard in Huanghuacheng. We were picked up at Huixinxijienankou subway station at 8. We were about 25 people from different countries and my colleague Aijun was with me. We met Kabeer, who was from India. There were some games like passing the parcel played on the bus. Some of them got to speak and sing. We reached around It took us some time to get to the right path. Kabeer, Aijun and I were together and we did most parts of the great wall, skipping the boat ride.

The hike was very scenic, the lake adding to the beauty. There were colorful flowers on the trees by the side of the wall. Between the two sections, we took a lunch break around 1. We were back to the bus by about 4. The information said cool rafting after a brief visit to the great wall.

Two of my colleagues Dave and Ashly were keen and I joined them. We were not clear, but we booked. As usual, we caught the bus at Huixinxijienankou subway station. The journey was about one and a half hour and we were at the place by 9. Red, the leader had told that we will climb the Great wall before lunch and would do the rafting in the afternoon. We were all given the rafting cards. We had a customary group photo and dispersed. Autumn was the designated FCN photographer.

Huaibai is a large ski resort that is undergoing major expansion and changes. A dinosaur park is also being developed there. We could see the cable car lines meant to take people up for t skiing. The Great Wall portions are inaccessible in many places and work is being done. The access to most towers was not there and we had to go through risky sideways.

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But the whole place was very scenic and the wall and the towers looked great. We went to one portion and returned to the original point, and I took the opposite path to go to a higher tower. This path had wooden steps and side rails for holding. I could see the town on the other side from top. The entry to the tower was barred using steel barricades. Next to each tower, there is an artificial tree that I first mistook to be real! We walked for about 2 and a half hours and came down around noon.

We decided to go for lunch. Autumn and Mao ordered lunch for four of us. As I liked, they ordered Kung Pao Chicken, which was really yummy.

Unfortunately, as we had just tasted it, Mao discovered a fly in the dish and we had to return it. After the lunch, we proceeded to the rafting place. We hired the locker to keep our belongings as we were going to get wet. From a distance, I saw the rafting happening in narrow canal and was circumspect. I had done rafting before in forceful Kali River in India. We had to wait in a queue to be taken to the start of the rafting spot by bus. Each raft carries two people.

Dave and Ashley took one and I was in another raft.

17 Secrets of the Great Wall of China

The caretakers pushed us into the canals and wow, the raft took off! It was really an amazing ride with the raft rushing through the water and water splashing on to the face. On the way, there were many lake-like places where one could relax. People also played with water splashing it on to others. The rafting was really thrilling and lasted about 90 minutes. There were cameras installed on the way to take pictures. We took shower and changed. The change area was spacious and clean. It was close to 4pm and it seemed like it was going to rain.

We boarded the bus and left for Beijing. The return journey took longer and we were at Huixinxijienankou around 6. We caught the subway and reached home around 7. The rafting at Huaibei was an awesome experience and so was the Great wall trek. Once all the work is completed, the ski resort will be a great getaway and will attract large crowds.

They provide a more natural rustic view, but are not easy to access. One such stretch is the Yaoziyu Great Wall. This is to the northeast of Beijing in Huairou district. Named after the year old village there, the Yaoziyu Great Wall of China is an extremely beautiful but a bit risky part of the Great Wall that is rarely seen by visitors. Booking was simple, the reporting time at Huixinxijienankou subway station was , which means slightly later than normal. I prepared a chapati egg roll in the morning and carried for lunch. The group size was about 40 people, and as usual, the participants were from different parts of the world.

People introduced themselves and some sand songs. For further hiking options check out Beijing Hikers. Most escapees head north, but there are hidden temples and villages in the western hills. Rent a car and take route to Cuandixia , a village with years of history. Courtyard homes dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties line the streets, which nestle in a deep valley that is green in summer and brown in winter. Steep cobbled paths weave between well-preserved buildings that feature stone carvings, screen walls and tiling. There are a number of walks up into the surrounding hills, and you get a good view of the village from the top.

For the full rural experience, stay in one of the inns that offer basic accommodation. Among the best is Guchengbao , one of the oldest courtyard buildings, perched at the top-left corner of the village as you arrive, which has traditional fire-heated kang beds shared by up to four people. Tanzhesi , the most enjoyable, is on route , with similar impromptu housing and food options. The temple is around 1, years old and is most beautiful in moonlight. Venture out farther to find a respite from the dry heat of a Beijing summer on the coast at Beidaihe.

This beach town has everything you need to unwind, and is easily accessible by bullet train from Beijing — so go off season to avoid the crowds. The waters are shallow; there are boat cruises, a forested hill favoured by bird-watchers and an amusement park. Stay at the Haijing Hotel , whose steps lead down to the beach. At any of the seafront restaurants with seafood on display in tanks, just point at what you fancy and it will appear soon after, cooked in delicious herbs and juices.

Mao was famously fond of the place.

Ming Tombs | Beijing Visitor - China Travel Guide

The Qing emperors were so keen on escaping from Beijing that they built a getaway specifically for the purpose. It is now a confection of gardens, lotus ponds, pagodas and other quiet delights. The town of Chengde itself is in Hebei, the province neighbouring Beijing, and is easily reachable by bus from Dongzhimen bus station, or by car. From there any cab will take you straight to the resort, which is perched on a series of interlocking lakes. You can easily kill a day wandering through the grounds of the summer palace, and there are also a dozen Tibetan-style Buddhist temples skirting the edges.

Spring or autumn are ideal, and the compound can be just as beautiful in winter. Bring a picnic to eat inside the resort, where the food is overpriced, and stay at the Qiwanglou hotel right next door. For dinner, sample cuisines from all over China at Xin Qianlong , named for the Qianlong emperor who helped to build the complex. According to animist beliefs, nature is alive with spirits.

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