Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Great Wall - Mutianyu

On Thursday, March 26th, Mom and I visited the Great Wall at the Mutianyu section. We went with my friend Jamie and Jamie's friend Carrie. Back in September, I hiked from the Simatai section to the Jingshanling section, but this was the first time I had been to Mutianyu.

The drive there was nice. We hired a driver to take us so we could relax and watch the scenery.

When we first arrived, we had to walk through a vendor section where you can buy "I climbed the Great Wall" t-shirts. We passed on the shirts, but we did buy a tasty Chinese pancake snack.

We decided to take the chairlift up.

At the top, we remembered.

We walked around on the wall until we got hungry for lunch.

Then, we climbed back down.

We decided to ride the toboggan down. When we got to the place where you get on, there was a small group of Russian guys who were also going to ride the toboggans. We expected them to go quickly, so we let them go ahead of us. Unfortunately, they were very slow. We had to keep stopping and waiting for them to get going again. In the picture below, you can see my shoe, then Carrie, then Mom.

We had lunch nearby at the Schoolhouse Restaurant.

After lunch, we all piled back into the car and fell asleep on the drive back into town. When we got back to town, we headed over to the Olympic area.

--Sarah & Mom--

Summer Palace

On Sunday, March 22nd, Mom and I went over to the Summer Palace. It was the summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi. In 1998, the Summer Palace was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. UNESCO says that the Summer Palace is "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value."

In the next few weeks, all the trees will bloom and the place will be packed with visitors. The day we went was crowded but not nearly as crowded as it soon will be.

We saw some animal statues.

Here is the Seventeen-Arch Bridge. (We were on the far side of Kunming Lake.)

Yu Feng Pagoda in the distance.

We were going to walk up a tall hill. Mom thought we should take this path:

...but this one was nearby:

We minded the hilly road.

And saw the Palace.

We admired the stained-glass windows on the Marble Boat.

And we weren't quite sure if this sign was warning us or insulting us.

The day was beautiful and Mom and I had a great time walking around the grounds of the Summer Palace.

--Sarah and Mom--

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Silver Pagoda Hike

I picked up my mom from the airport a little after 6am on Saturday. We stopped by my apartment so she could get changed and then we headed down to the Starbucks in Lido. There, we met up with the Beijing Hikers group to go on a hike to the Silver Pagodas. It was only a few hours, but it was a pretty steep hike. The weather was great and the pagodas were interesting to see.

We started our hike by walking through an old village where we saw a few donkeys and lots of old buildings.

After we walked through the village, the hills began to look similar to the neighborhood by my dad's old house. I kept looking for Flying Rock, but we didn't see it.

We did see a this large rock.....or rather, it saw us!

Mom did a great job and kept hiking all the way to the top.

At the top, some Chinese men cheered for her and wanted to take her picture. Here she is getting her picture taken.

This kid also did the hike. Just kidding.

After we got to the top, we hiked down a little ways until we reached the Silver Pagodas. There were five large pagodas. The taller the pagoda, the higher the status of the monk who is buried beneath it.

We ate lunch near the pagodas before walking the rest of the way back to the bus. Because we were a bit early, we had time to do another short walk between two other villages. On this walk, mom found some goats.

After we returned to Beijing, we had dinner with some of our new hiker friends, had showers and later massages, and went to bed early.

Coming soon: Summer Palace, Great Wall, and our trip this coming weekend.

--Sarah & Mom--

Monday, March 16, 2009

CCTV Tower

Here are some pictures of the CCTV tower in the CBD area of Beijing. So far all my pictures are from taxis or airplanes of this building. I need to walk around down there.

On the last night of Chinese New Year, some fireworks from the CCTV tower landed on the TVCC tower (Mandarin building) and caught it on fire. Here is a picture of the aftermath. I'm not sure when they will tear down this building and what will be built in its place. Luckily, it was not quite finished so there weren't people inside.