Mao in the chinese universities...
I remember that the first day I arrived in Beijing, I was a little bit shocked to see this huge Mao statue just accross from our university. I later found out that the building accross was also a university.
When I started to become familiar with my district, it seems that it is not uncommon to find such statues in university...
Watch Towers of the Forbidden City
The Imperial Palace is full of stories and fairy tales.
About the watch towers I have heard the following story:
When the walls of the Forbidden City were buiilt, they first had no towers. But then the emperor dreamed, that the walls had the most beautiful watch towers, one at each corner. So he gave the order to build those towers.
Two architects build very beautiful towers. But everytime they finished their work, the towers did not look like the ones, the emperor dreamed of. The emeperor was not satified with the managers and killed them and their craftsmen.
The third manager, he asked, had prepared himself. He knew, that, when he failed, he would be killed, too. He was very worried, when one day he saw an old man with a grasshopper in a cage. The cage was beautifully woven of thin sorghum stalks with eight sides and eight more at every corner. The roof was divided into three storeys: the first had upturned eaves on its four sides, and each of the four corners also had four small upturned eaves; the second was very much like the first, except that on its four small upturned eaves were four triangular ridgepoles; like the second, the third hat four triangular ridgepoles, but on the ridgepoles were four more triangular ridgepoles, and on each of them stood four level ridgepoles.
That cage looked exactly like the emperor had discribed his dream. The manager and his craftsmen built the watchtowers according to the cage. The emperor was satisfied and the craftsmen stayed alive.
On the photos you can see one of these watch towers to the right. The big building is one of the magazins of the palace.
The Sacred Way of Ming
It was the holly way used by the emperors to go to the temples to venerate the gods.
The "ten thousands years lord" was allowed to use the way.
See on the travelogue the marvellous things of this place.
A popular shopping strip, similar to Orchard Road. Well, the stuff here is higher than elsewhere due to higher rent.
In the alleys nearby, you may find Chinese gifts in a street-like bazaar.
We found the taxi's to be a really convenient way to get around Beijing. The fare was very cheap and the cabs are metered so you just pay the fare on the meter. Most cab drivers are not going to speak English so you you should have someone at your hotel write down where you want to go in Chinese and take the hotel's business card with you which should have the name and address on the back in Chinese. When you are ready to come back, just pick up a cab on the street and give them the business card. That's enough to get you back to the hotel. We did this on a couple of occasions and it worked for us.