Today (Sunday), we started our first day of adventures in Beijing. We went to the hotel Breakfast buffet but found that there was no black tea or coffee so we started out to find a coffee shop. I had an idea of where some might be, based on things I had seen as we had driven in yesterday. Sure enough, we quickly found a Starbucks and a “Twosome Coffee” shop, however neither were open yet so we walked a bit to kill some time.
We heard a loud, steady beeping and wondered what was causing it. As we walked closer we realized that a train was crossing the major street and that this gate on wheels was being moved out to stop traffic…..
The beeping starts when the gate is being deployed or reeled in. There are two attendants that stand there all day and move the gates whenever a train passes!!!
The Starbucks was the first shop open so we went in for the usual fare. I loved that one of their coffee blends was called “Komodo Dragon”. Now, Michael LOVES his Espresso and normally drinks 6 shots each morning. To avoid confusion, the first time thru he just ordered a double. Then I went back to order 2 more doubles (4 shots) at one time. The little girl that was making it carefully brewed four shots into the tiny espresso cup and then realized that it was too full to carry. She tried to hand it to me, but I knew that I couldn’t get it upstairs so asked that it be poured into a larger cup. One of the other workers came over and made her re-make the 4 shots into a larger cup….I felt terrible!!!
Today, we were supposed to go to the Great Wall again, but apparently the weather was bad in that area so we ended up traveling to the “Beijing Botanic Garden and Fragrant Hill” complex. As we neared the park, I was amused to see that people were selling butterfly nets along the street and I actually saw one little boy in the park who had caught a butterfly and had it in an air-filled bag.
We were hosted today by Professor Lee and he took great delight in sharing with us all of the historical information about the area…..
As we talked, we learned that his parents were both highly educated and, during the cultural revolution (1966-1976), his family was moved out of Beijing and sent to work on farms in another province. He is now a professor at the Beijing Forestry University. He certainly did know his history…..and his trees!!!!
….and this White Barked Pine, whose younger bark looks like camouflage and older bark is pure white. In this photo, the young tree is at the front……
The first gate that we came to was protected by two, 16 foot warrior statues, known as General Ha and General Heng….
The first hall that we entered was for the Buddha Maitreya. According to the sign outside, it was built during the Ming Dynasty and holds a Buddha whose “image is vividly designed with a face lit up with pleasure”…
The next hall contained another Buddha…..
…and his cohort…..
At this point, I was told that no photography was allowed in the temples….OOPS!!!
Red ribbons were hung everywhere in the park and especially inside the temples.
Professor Lee told us that the printing on the ribbons are various prayers that are being offered. Some of the ribbons were praying for good grades or getting accepted into Peking University (the PREMIER school in the nation), some were for family, marriage, children or money. Most of them were signed with a marker at the bottom of the ribbon.
One of the most interesting sites that we saw was the Memorial Hall of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a revolutionary who was considered to be the founding father of the Republic of China. He was instrumental in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty emperor and instating a republic form of government.
There was one statue that was based on a photo that was displayed. It was of him reading the newspaper that announced the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty!! The walls of the memorial hall were covered with his last writings, relaying his hopes for freedom and for what China could become.
….stopping often to rest because it was incredibly hot and, as Michael described it, “ impressively humid”!!!
As usual, I found lots of design ideas during our walk, including the ceiling of a small Pagoda……
….this VERY cool window…..
….and LOTS of pictures of stone designs in the paths. I really want to make a quilt using some of these ideas……
We loved how these trees were growing out of the stone walls…..
At this point, Professor Lee suggested that we climb Fragrant Hill. We agreed, and after climbing stairs for about 45 minutes we had reached the top….or so we thought. As we turned the corner, Professor Lee pointed to our ultimate goal….
….at the top of the NEXT hill.
Now, Michael and I were both struggling to make this climb, mostly because we hadn’t slept well the night before and were definitely dealing with Jet Lag. We had also drunk all of our water!!! When he said that we were going further up, Michael said “No…we are going back down again”. This is me having a happy face that we weren’t climbing any higher….
One of the interesting things that we noticed along the trail were these butterfly cutouts…..
I kept trying to figure out what was on them and when I got in close, I realized that the form was made out of fly paper and that it was covered with small insects. We still cant figure out why they have these outside where the bugs are supposed to be!!!
One cute interchange happened while we were on the way up…..we passed a family coming down the stairs with a cute little girl in tow. She looked up at us and I said “Hello. How are you?” She smiled and answered “I am fine thank you” (just as she has been taught in her English classes). I then asked if it was pretty at the top of the hill. She looked quizzically at her Dad who spoke to her in Chinese. She then looked at me and held her hands out as wide as she could get them……a perfect description of the spaciousness at the top of the mountain!!!
It was good and finally we both started feeling better, however I really wanted some water. I saw a small store near the tea shop and went there to buy some water bottles. They were 5Y each and I wanted to buy four of them. I agreed when the shop keeper indicated the price by holding up 5 fingers, but when I held up four fingers to indicate how many bottles I wanted, she vigorously shook her head and held up FIVE. After we went back and forth with this several times, I finally realized that she thought I was only wanting to pay 4Y for each. So, I stopped the exchange and reached over the counter and picked up four bottles of water. She laughed as I paid her the 20Y and was still smiling and laughing at me as we left the complex!!!
We continued down the hill and I loved this sign…..
They seem rather incongruous and personally, if I needed a bomb shelter, that would be my Happiness Garden too!!!
We exited the garden and walked down the street a ways to a restaurant for our mid-afternoon meal. As I looked around, I felt that we had been there before, and, sure enough, we found out that this was the same restaurant that we had visited on our last trip to Beijing in 2011!!
I hope that you caught the recurring word in the last descriptions….everything was Spicy and WONDERFUL!!!!
We couldn’t find a taxi to take us back to the Hotel, so Professor Lee suggested that we ride a bus. It was an interesting and easy ride, although it took over an hour to get back to our room.
Once back, we had a most welcome shower and fell gratefully into bed!!!