Monday, July 18, 2011

Last Day in Beijing (7/18/2011)

Monday, July 18, 2011
We were picked up at 8:00 AM from the Pentahotel by guide Katrina and a driver in a van from Stretch-A-Leg Travel ( Headed out of the city for the Shisan Ling/Ming Tombs. The final resting place for the last 13 of the 16 Ming emperors, it has good feng shui with the mountains to the north. Only one of the tombs has been excavated, and one has been restored.
Another gray day.
We first visited part of the 14-mile Spirit Way, leading to the tombs.
Shengong Shende/Stele Pavilion:
The stone tablet is supported by the first son of the dragon, Bixi, a dragon tortoise, who is very strong:
Kent adds perspective:
Decorative column:
Spirit Way is lined with weeping willow trees here:
Cloud columns:
The animal guardians lining the Spirit Way are grouped in two pairs of standing and two pairs of sitting statues. First the lion as the king of animals and protector:
The mythological beast, Xiezhi, a fire-eating dog with hooves and one horn:
Camel, symbol of the vastness of China:
Sitting elephant:
Standing elephant - a warrior:
Finally the mythological beast, Qilin, with a dragon head, deer antlers, goldfish scales, horse hooves, and ox tail:
Next the officials in pairs. First a warrior with weapons:
Warrior without weapons:
Civil official holding thin tablet to raise when he wants to speak with the emperor:
He has several "pockets" in his sleeves:
Another civil official:
Dragon and Phoenix Gate:
Now the Spirit Way is lined with poplar trees:
Next we visited the restored tomb complex of Chang Ling/Tomb of the Yongle Emperor (1360-1424).
Mausoleum Gate:
Silk burner, for burning offerings:
Ling'en Dian/Hall of Eminent Favor:
Carved dragon on ramp:
Cedar columns and rafters:
The Yongle Emperor:
Treasures from the excavated Ding Ling Tomb include this Empress crown:
The Hall of Eminent Favor sits on three tiers of platforms:
View through Neihong Men/gate towards the Ling Xing arch:
Minglou/Spirit Tower:
Stele in the Spirit Tower:
View from the Spirit Tower:
Tenacious cypress tree:
Spirit Tower:
Leaving the tower:
Another tenacious tree:
It sprinkled rain as we left the Ming Tombs.
Next we were driven into the mountains, zigzagging farther up onto lesser roads to reach the place for a "farmhouse" lunch.
View from the patio:
Eggplant with garlic and peppers:
Green beans with garlic and spicy peppers:
Grilled trout with a spicy rub:
Potatoes, mushrooms and scallions:
Fresh organic eggs and scallions:
"Pancakes," a delicious bread that flaked into layers:
Lunch on the patio:
Trout pond:
Plants used as stakes for gourd vines:
After lunch we headed to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall.
Still pretty overcast.
Subway (the sandwich shop) arrived courtesy of the 2008 Olympics:
Took a cable car up to the Wall:
 First view of the Great Wall:
The Great Wall to the west:
Here the Wall was restored to allow you to walk straight up and take the jog to the left to the first tower.
Henkel Stele:
China had help to restore the Great Wall.
Entering the Great Wall:
Kent, Brynne and Tamiko:
We are standing on a steep backwards incline:
View west:
The brownish bricks are original, and the gray ones are new:
When restoring the wall, they asked the locals to pick up the bricks they assumed had fallen to the sides of the wall. However, they didn't find any there; most of the bricks had been used in building the local people's homes!
View along the outside of the wall:
View east:
Those flying black things are dragonflies!
The first of nine towers (there are 23 on this section) we were to pass through:
View of the ruins of a Beacon Tower on the outside of the wall:
Our guide had chosen the mostly downhill direction for us!
Drainage ditch along the steps:
Where we have been:
 The towers lost their rooftops:
Tour group:
Stairs to the village:
Ladder hole:
Still headed downward:
Steep steps coming from this tower:
They rebuilt the top building and roof on this tower:
Branch wall and tower:
Growth outside the wall:
Looking towards the next tower:
Eroded steps:
 Bill L. said, "Wait for Mom!"
The outer wall:
The area between the two sides of the large stones is filled with crushed rock, making the wall itself 23-26' high and 12-15" wide. The top of the wall is paved with bricks and steps, and is enclosed with parapets/walls of smaller bricks. The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall was built in 1368 on the foundations of a wall built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577).
Brynne gives perspective to the stones:
Tamiko, Kent and Brynne:
Hole for a dead bolt:
Replica cannon:
Looking through a tower:
Window bolt hole:
Uh, oh, here comes the climbing part:
A donkey:
Donkey meat is a local specialty, but we suspect this donkey was transportation for this vendor below:
We made it up the steepest climb:
Down in the valley is a pass through the wall:
The restored part of the wall ends at the tower at the top of the mountain:
Our guide Katrina, Tamiko and Brynne:
To descend at this point, you can either take the Speed Chute (on a wheeled-sled):
Or the ropeway/chair lift:
That's Katrina and Tamiko up there, and Brynne and Kent down here:
The Speed Chute seemed kind of slow:
Looking straight down:
Going down:
Those black things on the chair lift are extra sleds for the Speed Chute.
Almost there:
After seeing the Great Wall, we were taken to the airport for our flight to Xi'an.
Straw at the airport:

No comments: