"Blue Zoo" is a small, but very well laid-out underground aquarium at the southern end of the Worker's Stadium complex.
The main feature is a huge marine tank, with a slow moving pedestrian walkway that goes through, round and back under this huge tank. It is a fascinating and exciting experience, and the kids absolutely love it. Strangely it inever seems to be crowded, but it is educational and makes a change from watching 'Shark Week' on Discovery Channel.
After visiting the National Stadium and walking by the National Aquatics Center, we had some time to kill before we had to take the night train to Shanghai so we strolled along the Chaoyang district. We walked towards the west and after crossing the North 4th Ring Road Middle, we noticed some interesting architecture on what we first thought was houses in an advanced state of decay (picture #2). On closer inspection we realized that the houses weren't decaying, and that the tiles on the roof was another way to make something simple interesting. The houses looked like part of a temple/complex of some sort and unfortunately we weren't allowed to go in that day because there seemed to be a private event. The houses can be found crossing the main street by the Beichen West Bridge (the one closest to a KFC shop and Pangu Plaza).
Moving on following Beichen West Road, we walked the block until we found a totem pole (picture #3), and then some inscriptions on a wall and thus we found the China Nationalities Museum (picture #4). China is the biggest country population wise, and there's a lot of minorities (in relation to the Han Chinese, which is the largest ethnic group), some of them being Uighur, Manchu and Tibetan. We didn't get inside the museum so I can't comment about the exhibitions. The museum is located on Minzuyuan Road.
On the same block, still on Minzuyuan Road, I found these buildings, with the kind of architecture that I have always associated with China. One of them seems to be a restaurant or a shop of some kind, but that we saw several tourist buses indicated that something was going on there. I was captured by the covered bridge (picture #5) and we wondered if there was a way that we could cross the street by using the bridge, so that we could also see it from the inside but we didn't find any way to get in. It is on this site, but across the street, where we found a cake shop and bought a snack before heading back to the hostel, picking up our bags and heading out to Shanghai.
Directions: all these places are accessible by metro stations Olympic Sports Center and Olympic Park (line 8).
This old temple (originated from 1443) has not been on the tourist maps. But now it will berenovated by the end of 2005. Then it will be open to the publik. I think, that this beautiful small temple will not be as crowded as the other tourist spots in Beijing.
The temple is called Black Temple as the roof is build with dark blue tiles. There are several halls, which can be visited soon. I just could glimpse through a gate, as everything was under construction. In a guidebook I read, that there are Buddha-Statues in the halls, which are very impressive.
The Chinese name of the temple is Zhihua Si. The temple's address is Lumicang Hutong. It is located a few hundred metres north of the big crossing, where Changan Dajie becomes Jianguomen Dajie, crossing the inner ringroad. I think, it is more easily be found, when you are on Donganjie or Wangfujing, go north, find the Ganyu-Hutong and follow this Hutong to the East.
On the south side of the Forbidden City lies a nice stream pathway. It is hard to notice if you aren't looking for it, as it is hidden between the City wall, with another identical wall blocking access from the sidewalk/street.
This is the same stream that you cross over to get into the Forbidden City.
To access the pathway:
From the Tiananmen gate Forbidden City entrance, head east about 100m. You will see doorways for a public toilet set back against the wall. The park's access door is in the wall, beside the bathroom doors, and looks like it's part of the bathroom complex. It comes out in the next block over, where the main road crosses it, and continues on.
A nice walk, much better than walking along beside the traffic and crowds on the sidewalk.
Maybe people didn't enter the doorway because they thought the path was part of the bathroom area?
We used the pathway quite a few times, just walking around. It never had more than a handful of people in it, no matter what time it was and how crowded the sidewalks were.
Walking to the Temple of Heaven, the girl and I stumbled upon a medium sized ceramics market, to the side of a park.
The market is located to the north of the eastern Temple gate. Just follow that road up, it's on the left.
Prices were good, as it's away from the main tourist area downtown. Bargain hard!
I come here often to have foot massage , it's quite close to my work place.
It's on the second floor inside a building, there are quite a few separate rooms where 4 to 6 persons can sit down relax . The ambience is clean, staffs are extremely friendly. Staff are not allowed to receive tips from clients. I like this!
They will first warm your feet up in the hot water with herbs, after about 30 minutes when you foot become softer, you start to enjoy their 1:30 minutes soft massage. Very relaxing!
Price: Before 18:00 happy hour RMB70
18:00-02:00 a.m RMB120
Zhengyi Lu is a little known street running south from Dongchang'an, opposite the Beijing Hotel.
It is a quiet avenue with a small park running down the middle, but just as the Forbidden City brings back memories of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, so Zhenngyi Lu brings back more recent memories of the foreign powers' influence on China at the beginning of the twentieth century. This is the heart of the Foreign Legation Quarter, the area where foreign countries built their diplomatic compunds.
Suddenly, you are transported from China to the old streets of London, Paris or Moscow. Many of the original buildings have been converted and many have been demolished, but there is enough remaining to reveal the opulent lifestyles of the foreign ambassadors and traders one hundred years ago.
Many of the buildings are now the offices of gipvernment ministries and authorities, so photography needs to be discrete: most entrances are guarded by unsmiling, heavily-armed soldiers who are not accustomed to tourists...this is "Off the Beaten Track" remember!
The concession area grew quickly, but was very badly damaged by the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, and the area never really recovered, although many of the remaining colonial-style buildings date from the rebuilding at that time.
Walk from Zhengyi Lu, turning right into Dongjiaomin Xiang and then north again to return to Dongchang'an by Taijichang Dajie for a ten minute glimpse of old colonial Beijing.
The Insight Guide to Beijing has a good little map and explanation of which building used to belong to whom.
Basically Beijing consists of narrow streets with two-storeyed houses. In little shops dealers offer the Chinese cabbage, and there was an impression that it is the basic food stuffs. There was time of a supper, and characteristic smells of the prepared food reached from everywhere.
One day, one of the guys working opposite my hotel handed me over his helmet and “told” (told, well, with signs we could understand each other) to go in, visit a bit, make some pictures. As I noticed many times, it is the people who have few or even nothing to offer who at the end give the most; here it was not a big deal to go on the construction site, but I am sure if I had asked officially or so, I would not have been allowed to go there.
So, working people here, probably coming from the poor countryside of China, find a living in the big megalopolis. Sorry it is not exactly a tourist “tip”, but I am curious and think other people are curious and I think it has some “charm” or “exotism” to visit places and people like that.
Main picture:Steel, steel, steel and little guys; look, there are the white ones with blue helmets (and protection glasses), the white helmets, the yellow helmets; each “team” or brigade makes a specific job. They look really tiny on the site and with the giant steel beams.
Picture 2: Keep smiling. . . hard working people still keep morale.
Picture 3: Building scaffolds, the guys there look like ants with twigs.
Picture 4: The giant hook and the little guys. . .
Picture 5:He reminds me comic movies (Harry Langdon, Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton. . . ) on the beam, waiting for a cable to tie it ; but he probably is not playing. . . .
In the southern part of the city the unaware tourist may find also interesting the remains of the old city walls of Beijing, which were demolished during the Cultural Revoltion in China.
A nice park lies along the walls, where people gather to walk, talk or even just be there.
The Dabaotai Han Tomb is located in Dabaotai Village in the southwestern suburbs of Beijing. Built entirely of wood, it was the tomb of a Han king of the Western Han Dynasty who was buried about 2,000 years ago. Archeologists excavated the site in the 1970s, uncovering relics invaluable to the historical record of Beijing.
The huge tomb is comprised of burial chamber, antechamber (furnished like an imperial sitting room) and coffin chamber (with five coffins for the emperor). About 15,800 cypress logs went into the massive construction, which was then sealed with charcoal and gypsum to protect against the elements.
Though the tomb did mot escape early grave robbers and vandals, over 400 burial objects of pottery, bronze, iron, jade, agate, lacquer and silk were salvaged. A piece of the earliest decarbonized steel known in China, woven brocade hat ribbons and iron axes stamped with the characters ?Yuyang ironsmith,? as well as local agricultural products are also on display.
The museum, opened in 1986, is closed every Monday.
It is quite an adventure to go to this place by public transport. Most Beijingers don't know about this Han Tomb. Therefore the place is quiet and without many people. Dabaotai Han Tomb is located near the World Park.
Address: Near Beijing World Park at Fengtai District in Beijing.
Opening Time: 9:00 a.m. to 16:00 p.m.
Ticket: 10 yuan (US$1.2)
Bus Routes: Bus 340, 352, 937 or tour bus to World Park.
I like to come back to Fayuan Si again and again. I like the quiet and solemn atmosphere, the sound of chanting and drums. Fayuan Si is a lively temple, where some Buddhist monchs live and Buddhist ceremonies are held.
The Fayuansi, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Beijing, is situated in the Xuanwumen area in the southwest quarter of the city. According to the Shuntian Prefecture Annals, Li Shimin, the second emperor officers and soldiers who lost their lives in battles, built the temple in 645. At the time it was called the Minzhongsi (the Temple in Memory of the Loyal). It was rebuilt in the Zhengtong period (1436-1449) of the Ming Dynasty and renamed the Temple of Exalted Happiness (Chongfusi). Its present name dates from 1734.
Occupying an area of 6,700 square meters, the temple contains a number of fine early cultural relics. The bronze sculptures pf the Four Heavenly Kings (Davarajas) and lions date from the Ming Dynasty, as do the rare gilded figures of the three Buddhas-Vairochana (Piluzhena), Manjusri (Wenshu), and Samantabadra (Puxian). The huge stone urn in the form of a Buddhist alms bowl, which stands on a double base before the Hall of Pure Karma (Jingyetang) rivals the jade urn in the Circular Wall (Tuancheng) in Beihai Park in terms of size and decoration. The sides of the Platform in Memory of the Loyal (Minzhongtai) are inscribed with a cursive rendering of The Ode to the Pagoda by Zhang Shijin in the calligraphy of Su Lingzhi, who lived in the Tang Dynasty. There are also many fine examples of stelae, stone carvings, stone pillars inscribed with Buddhist sutras, plaques inscribed in the calligraphy of emperors and printed Buddhist scriptures, all dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
In the past, the temple was famed for its lilac gardens and was also known as the Sea of Fragrant Snow. Each year when the trees came into bloom, the monks would hold vegetarian banquets, which were attended by all the celebrities of the day. Pines from the Tang Dynasty are found in the front courtyard, and cypresses from the Song stand before the drum and bell towers. A gingko reputed to be several hundred years old is growing next to the Sutra Tower (Cangjingge).
Beijing looks like it is building all the time; there are lots of construction sites throughout the city and near my hotel there were several which I visited from outside and even from inside, thanks to some of the workers who took me with them; I would otherwise not have dared to go inside not only because it is dangerous to walk around on that sort of place, if you do not know and if the people there are not aware there is a foreigner who does not know where all the machine move, what can fall from the sky, etc. . .
The Chinese are building, building, building. . . like if they wanted to catch up with the capitalistic world; they are already in this world and it is just amazing to look at all what they are building. So many people work in construction, pharaonic projects like the Yang Tse dam are not in Beijing, but it is impressive, and with the light, the misty weather and the sand storms, it gives an unreal image, a bit science fiction, or it reminds some science fiction movies like “green sun” or T. Giliam’s “Brazil” in some cases.
Main picture: Cranes, scaffolds, steel bars sometimes can make “interesting” arrangements or strange geometries. In Beijing there are probably more cranes working than in any European country; it is really impressive to see the construction sites throughout the city, on the roads, etc.
Picture 2: And they even try daring architecture; the two inclined buildings will meet somewhere in the sky.
Picture 3: In the mist and sandstorm, the landscapes look weird, a bit surreal;
Picture 4: I still remain as a kid and like to watch the cranes working; they are impressive, like wading birds fragile and strong in the same time.
Picture 5: If the flowers could think, what would they think? They are still there, but may be more buildings will be erected, and the little trees will have to give space, may be.
I saw the Starbucks the first time I went to Forbidden City. Some of my friends told me they didn't know about it, which means it's pretty discreet.
Actually, it's a little stand inside the souvernirs shop. It has a roof that looks like all the other ones in there, so it fits into the scenery.
The Beijing Ancient Observatory is built in 1442, and when you visit you wouldn't expect it to be so old, it is still in very good condition. Personally I enjoyed the eight rooftop instruments, like the "Celestial Globe". If you are interested in astronomy you must visit this place, I guarantee you'll enjoy it!
The Observatory is west of the Friendship store, southwest of the intersection at Erhuan Lu and Jiangguomennei Dajie. Take the subway to Jianguomen stop; cross diagonally through the underpass.
Open daily 9am-5:30pm, Entrance fee Y10
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