Yet another official trip - this time to Beijing, the capital of dragon land. I went for a week to the Aruba office at Xierqi in North West Bejing. The office and the hotel were I stayed was at walking distance from the Xierqi Metro station, making it extremely easy for me to travel around Beijing. The metro is quite good and extremely popular as it connects most parts of Bejing at a very low cost.
My 1st desination was the world famous Tiananmen Square, located almost at the center of Beijing city. It is easily accessible from Tiananmen West or East metro stations on Red line (Line #1) of Beijing Metro. Tiananmen Square is one of the largest city squares in the world and has great cultural significance as it was the venue of many important events in Chinese history. This is a view from the Tiananmen Square, of the Tiananmen gate, which is also the entrance to the Forbidden City or Palace Museum.
Forbidden City is probably the best known heritage site in Beijing and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is a sprawling Palace complex, which housed the various dynasties which ruled over China. This is the 'Hall of Supreme Harmony', the most important building at the Forbidden City.
If the intricate carvings on the roof is not enough proof for the importance of this building, the statuettes on its roof ridge should be.
The number of statuettes at the top is a visible sign for the importance of the building and the ten statuettes at the roof ridge of the 'Hall of Supreme Harmony' is of the highest status, not only in Forbidden City, but the whole of China. I roamed around the Forbidden City for almost a full day. I wanted to go to Temple of Heaven and headed to Tiantandongmen, metro station in Line #5. But, I took a wrong exit from the station and was unable to find the way to the temple. After roaming around for a while, I changed the plan and headed to Yonghegong station for the Lama temple. It was around 5, by the time I reached the temple, which will close at 4.30. So, I had to call it a day and head back to the hotel. Being a vegetarian, food was a problem for me in Beijing. First few days, I was having breakfast, lunch and dinner at Subway - not because they had any vegetarian item in the menu, but because I could see what they are adding in to the sandwich. I would usually order a 'Tuna sandwich' and stop them when they were about to add 'Tuna' - so that I can have a vegetarian sandwich
Thats were, lunch with colleagues helped. I started going along with them to their usual eateries and they picked up one or two veg items from the menu. This particular restaurant had a mushroom dish, which soon became my favourite! With their help, I could explore a few more places around for lunch and really enjoyed the veg options in some of the eateries! Thanks to Guojun, Yupeng, Hao & James (left to right in Pic) for helping me survive in Beijing for 10 days without non-veg! Its not just the lunch that they helped me with. Infact, I was planning to take the metro after landing in Beijing airport and Hao totally refused to let me do it! He drove up to the airport and picked me up instead. Though, I managed to sneak out next day and visit Forbidden City, the weekend was totally planned by my colleagues. I was disallowed to sneak out on my own and one person each was assigned for each of the destinations that I wanted to go!
Saturday morning, it was Yupeng's turn to take me to Summer Palace - a beautiful lake side palace and yet another UNESCO site. We took the metro to reach Bagou station on Line #10, near the east gate of Summer Palace. The picture above is from the 'Hall of Benevolence and Longevity'.
The best thing about the summer palace was the beautiful walk around the Kunming lake with a beautiful view of the 'Tower of Buddhist Incense', the tallest tower in summer palace. The tower looked far away and majestic on top of the 'Longevity Hill', especially when seen from the 'Heralding the Spring' pavilion, near the east gate.
We walked along the Kunming lake and took a few wrong turns before finally reaching near the 'Longevity Hill'. On our way to the 'Tower of Buddhist Incense', we also passed through the 'Long Corridor'
'Long Corridor' is a covered walkway richly decorated with paintings on the beams and ceilings. The corridor is 728m long and has more than 14000 paintings - depicting episodes from chinese classical literature.
Another landmark here is the 'Marble Boat' - actually a lakeside pavilion, located at the western end of the 'Long Corridor'. The decks are in reality made of wood, but painted to imitate marble.