Monday, 3 June 2019

China Day 24, 29th May 2019, Temple of Heaven and Home

So 6.15 am we were up to get ready on our last day (or part thereof). Packed (almost) and ready to head out for a few hours and catch the supposedly magical Temple of Heaven before returning,checking out and heading to the airport. Had our last breakfast in the brilliant Beijing Guiz Hou Hotel Mansion and once again off to the subway to head to the Temple. So we left by 8am to leave plenty of time and here's the first stuff up of the whole trip, I ( yes me, not Jane, taking full blame, didn't listen, etc, etc, you get the drift) bought tickets to Tian Tong Gyuan station instead of Tian Tong Dongmen. Still on line 5 but in totally the opposite direction. So now we waste 45 minutes getting there and then back to the correct station before alighting and hot footing it to the Temple which was luckily just around the corner. Already starting to heat up again but we gained access easily, purchased tickets and on our way.
The ancient Chinese Temple of Heaven complex consists of beautiful parklands and the "only" round temples in Beijing, The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Imperial Vault of Heaven. These wooden buildings were built during the Ming Dynasty in 1420 and have magnificent round blue roof's and ornate interiors. There was also the lovely cool Long Corridor,marble gates, other buildings and a circular ceremonial Altar Mound. A really lovely complex covering 273 acres with masses of grass and trees right in the bustling city of Beijing; fully understand why Alec and Helen enjoy it. The extra hour I lost would have been well spent investigating this complex further.  Beijing certainly has some great parks and green space areas. The alarm to head back went off at 11.30 am and it was hot footed back to the subway and return to the hotel. We had a late check out, so showered, changed and ready for the taxi to the airport by 1 pm.
Now we have had some good drivers so far in China, but I can certainly say this was not one of them. All over the place, in and out of lanes constantly and just wandering in the middle of two lines frequently. Sped up, slowed down, really crazy driving but we eventually got to the airport and were glad to get out.
Check in and customs were relatively quick and painless, except for the rude woman pushing in on Jane's line and being told by security to go back. Other than that no trouble and after the little train to terminal 3, we had time for a bit of food, lousy coffee and a look around some not very exciting shops. The Singapore Airlines SQ807 flight was on time and this time downstairs in the A380 seats 44J & K. No sooner in the air than seats in front of us both back as far as possible ( why me, continually). Other than that a good flight to Singapore where we had a short stopover, but with enough time for the lounge and a glass of vino. Then back onto the final flight (SQ255) back to Brisbane at 0030 hours ( with more lovely people with fully reclining seats in front @#$$%%^&^ ) on the A350-900. Not as much room between seats on this plane so was a bit squeezed even with the reclining, but the nine hours went fairly well and we finally arrived back into sunny Brisbane. I stupidly left my passport on the seat as we got off so had to wait until ALL passengers had alighted before being able to get it back and get to the duty free shop for the Whisky purchases. Bit of a line up through customs but no bag checks and finally in a taxi (much better driver than the last one) and on the way home getting there around midday. All in all an excellent trip with some fond memories. Would I return to China, you betcha. Much better than expected and certainly way more left to see.

Landed and home

Sunday, 2 June 2019

China Day 23, 28th May 2019, The Forbidden City.

So this morning was little slow to start as Jane still has head cold. We decided to have breakfast at the hotel again as just too simple, included in the price and a great selection of Chinese food along with a small selection of toast and jams and of course fruit and yoghurt. A good choice of ‘Burning vegetables’ ( a hot pot of water to simmer greens in) and at least another 27 Chinese hot dishes to choose from, plus bacon every second day.
After our fill it was on to the subway to Tiananmen East station. It was going to be a stinker today (37 C) so conserving energy was a must. Crossed the road and had a choice of walking to either of the east or south entrance, 840m or 970m so chose the shortest route, wrong decision; almost there when we ran into an American couple who had done the same, only problem was it was an exit only, so turnaround and head to the other entrance. Got there and coerced into an art studio on the way but finally in after standing in line with a young Spanish couple who were heading to Datong tomorrow. Just masses of marble and granite courtyards along with the multitude of palace buildings, so impressive. We got the audio guide which had good reviews but was a little hit and miss, but did get some worthwhile information from it. Next time would pay for a private guide (only 200 Yuan) and just get them to take us to the important things we want to see. Like so many of these places after four (4) hours walking around it becomes a bit of sensory overload and along with the excessive heat ( amplified by the stone) it was time to leave. Had a quick look at the exhibition that was in the exit building, artifacts from the Vatican, good to see the exquisite items the Catholics had stolen and now were on display back in China ;-)
We thought of heading to a park but in the end walked until we came to the China National Art Museum. Sounded an excellent idea as air conditioned and a great coffee shop with excellent coffee and a couple of little cakes to go with them. Had a nice wander around in the cool and really enjoyed the lithographs and etchings from the 30's and 40's, all very pro communist. There was also a calligraphy exhibition on and some were massive. After this it was just back to the hotel and a short cool rest with a couple of cold beers.
Alec and Helen came to pick us up about 7.30 pm and we were on the way to a Chinese BBQ restaurant for dinner. Ended up being just around the corner from the Art Museum we were in earlier and where we had wandered the previous evening. Had to sit outside for a few minutes until a table was ready and then it was on. Lots of food on skewers over a red hot bbq, even had a can of air to smell (yes true, canned air smelling of grass meadows). We had all types of meat, plus chicken cartilage, chicken tendons, kidneys, and finally silk worm chrysalis cases ( really good and quite nutty flavour, only ate the middle not the case as shown by our Chinese neighbours.) all washed down with some beers. Everyone had to have a look at the toilet washbasins before we left but finally finished and then given an ice cream as we left. An excellent night and ending to our journey to China and some quality time spent with Alec.
Back to the hotel and farewells to Alec and Helen and then retired for the night around midnight, ready for a quick visit in the morning to the Temple of Heaven before heading to the airport and on the way home.

BBQ silk worm chrysalis

great toilet wash basin