As I can only access Facebook through my phone I haven’t been able to upload any photos, so here are a few of my recent travels, enjoy!
I went to a town in the north of Shandong with some friends called Penglai. Here is a beautiful sunset we saw across the Yellow Sea and the ‘pier’ in the background is a scenic area dedicated to the Eight Immortals who crossed the sea here according to local legend.
The Penglai pavillion was a scenic area filled with ancient temples, statues, character carvings. Being next to the sea made it very beautiful and the walls surrounding it made me think of the Great Wall (despite not having been there yet at that time).
The pagodas around China are very nice, most are very tall with several layers. I really like the architecture and the design, but after a while they’re all a bit samey, as are the houses – red walls and a colourful roof.
In the main park in Qingdao for a couple of weeks the Japanese blossom came out. It was so pretty, delicate and white with a slight pink tinge. The whole park had these trees and it was much prettier than the last time I’d visited when the branches were bare and ugly.
The Chinese students don’t have hot water (a daily essential) in their dormitories. They drink hot water as in traditional Chinese medicine, drinking cold or even cool water is deemed unhealthy for women. As there are no kettles or hot water stations in their dorms, there are often places like this on campus where students leave their flasks on their way to class, then when they come back they will fill it up and return to their dorm.
In China there’s a saying 人山人海 it means a sea of people, but the literal translation is ‘people mountain people sea’ and in this picture you can see that on this mountain there really was a sea of people! It’s Taishan 泰山， one of the tallest in China, besides the Himalayas. It’s in Shandong province and it’s a really beautiful place, definitely worth a visit. The scenery was so peaceful despite being surrounded by so many people.
There’s a lot of Buddhism in China and Taishan is rumoured to be one of the places where Buddhism was discovered/brought to China. Here I am in a relaxed ‘Buddhist’ pose whilst my Chinese friend was worrying that I’d fall off the edge.
The rocks, the trees, the air and the misty fog/pollution (you can never be sure what’s in the air, but it always seems to be grey!) all made the mountain very mysterious and enchanting. There was a Jade Empress temple at the summit as well as a four star hotel for people who wanted to stay the night in luxury before seeing the sunrise. For those who don’t have the money for a four star hotel, many people climb the mountain with tents and camp out before waking up early to see the sunrise.
The Chinese word for mountain 山 is used to describe anything from a great mountain like Taishan to a small incline on the street or a little hill. The Thousand Buddha Mountain 千佛山 was a park with a big hill. It had many Buddhas in it as well as many tourists. From the top of the hill you had a lovely view of the whole of Jinan (capital of Shandong and sister city to Coventry) and in the very far distance you could also see a glimmer of the Yellow River. Instead of climbing down the hill, we took the slide…yes the mountain had a slide with metal bobsleigh type metal cars, it was fun.
This was taken in the main square of Jinan, it’s the bluest I’ve ever seen the sky in China. The blue spikes of the monument in the middle represent water as Jinan has many springs and nobody really knew what the silver ball in the middle was meant to be, the world maybe?
This is a statue of a famous female poet from one of China’s dynasties. My friend told me as a child his parents brought him here to the corridor of statues of great people. If you touched the statues then one day you could achieve their greatness. I chose to touch the poet as I like writing and also because she was the only female there – girl power!
Chinese dumplings are eaten mainly during Chinese new year, you can buy frozen ones but it’s very common to make them yourself. The stuffing of these was pork and Chinese chives. You wrap some of the stuffing into a circular thin piece of dough, then squeeze the edges together tightly because if it bursts in the water you can’t eat it! Mine are the uglier looking ones, it was my first time!
The university have many watchmen on site, but they don’t do a lot of watching in my opinion. They’re usually Grandad aged men who stay in buildings maybe to raise the alarm if there’s a fire, I’m not sure. There are three in my building who take shifts, the musician one, the nione and the scary one. I think they’re lucky as at least they get interaction, this watch station in the photo is by one of the pedestrian gates and I think it would be very lonely. There are TVs and a bed though, a lot of the time they are sleeping. When I arrived at midnight on my first ever night I woke up five of these watchmen trying to find my dormitory building, some pointed me in the wrong direction, I couldn’t understand any of them and one started shouting at me and pointing at his watch.
There are many nice parks in China, with boating lakes, beautiful trees, open spaces and ancient style architecture. China is so big that they have a lot of space for big parks, man-made lakes, huge squares etc. This park was in Beijing, me and my friend sat on the grass next to the boating lake. As some of the Chinese people rode/sailed? past us in the boats, either the parents would tell the children to smile at the foreigners, or the children would point us out to their parents. Foreigners are still quite foreign in China and we’re a spectacle.
The pagodas that are in the parks I mentioned are always very intricately decorated, especially the ceilings. I have a feeling they decorate it to represent the heavens but that’s just a guess, maybe it’s an optical illusion.
This is at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, the shapes of the buildings here are all round as Chinese ancient legends/beliefs are that circular things are found in heaven and square things are on earth. It was very nice this place, there weren’t too many people and there was lots of open space.
Our hostel was near Qianmen, a long pedestrianised shopping street with a tram. I like the gateways in China, even though the street is just for shopping, the gate makes it feel grander. The stone building in the background is, actually I’m not sure, maybe it’s something to do with Mao, maybe it’s an old city wall. I never asked.
On the buildings in the Forbidden city there was amazing designs and patterns, even simple things like this coloured flower I found really beautiful.
In ancient times the emperors liked their theatre and this is an example of the private theatre. It was complete with pulley ropes, trapdoors and underneath the stage was water, I think the water was to amplify the music/actors voices, I’m not sure as our guide was speaking Chinese and I wasn’t paying much attention. I found it very interesting though how there was even a theatre in the depths of the Forbidden city (which is huge by the way).
As Chinese people like to take pictures of foreigners (often without asking) me and Faith invested in these hats, you can lift the visor up and it’s a normal sun hat but you can also pull it down and look like a welder. It’s very reflective so nobody can see in but we could see out. This is a visor selfie on the Great Wall.
This is for my Aldake teammates in La Palma, Spain. My previous running group asked me to take their club t-shirt with me to the Great Wall and I did. I was planning to run a half marathon on the great wall, but as it was aimed at tourists you could only buy a package deal which included tourism in and around Beijing for three or four days for about £800 and I was no way going to spend that much.
This is the ‘Olympic foot massage parlour’ mentioned in my previous post where I got a really amazing foot massage but an equally scary palm reading. The tour guide told us that in 2008 all the athletes came here after their races to relax, I wonder if Usain Bolt got the same treatment as I did after he broke the world record.
As I mentioned before, heavenly things are circular and earthly things are square, which is why the 2008 Olympic Games water cube is square shaped…do you understand? Because I don’t. Even so, it is now a public swimming pool and I’m a little, actually extremely, disappointed I didn’t get to swim where Phelps won those eight amazing golds. If I go back to Beijing I will definitely take my swimming costume and goggles and go for a swim.
On the corners of ancient Chinese buildings there are always dragon heads, normally nine, I think it is because there are nine legendary dragons. The one right at the corner of the building always has a little man riding a dragon but I have no idea why, it’s all very interesting and so different to Europe where old Gothic churches have gargoyles or angels on the walls.
This has to be the hardest character to write ever. The pronunciation is biang and it’s a noodle dish famous in Xi’an. I never got the opportunity to try it but I have tried writing it and have failed every time.
This is another one of the big grand Chinese gates/archways? that I like so much, the red pillars, blue and green backgrounds and then gold writing. On these types of structures you read from right to left…if you can read the writing – it’s usually in traditional (rather than simplified characters) and the ‘font’ is difficult for me to understand.
The Terracotta Warriors was a bit of a disappointment for me. Many of the warriors haven’t been dug up yet because they’re trying to discover a way to preserve the colours that the guards armour is, when they expose the statues to air they discolour and turn brown within minutes. Like here, some of the statues are missing heads and it’s a little creepy. Also I didn’t like how all of the faces were different. If they were all the same it would have made them feel like just some statues, but the individual facial features makes them seem like real people preserved in stone.
Then there were the broken ones, just discarded like cadavers from a war zone. Despite the history being very interesting – China’s first emperor (209 BC over 2200 years ago!) had the statues carved and buried with him to protect him in the afterlife. There were archers, generals and even horses carved out. This wasn’t documented so nobody knew it even existed until the 70’s.
I was going to finish with the Terracotta Army pictures but I think they’re a little grim so here’s an old bell of the Bell Tower in Xi’an. I can read a few of these characters but don’t know what it says. They now only ring it a few times a day and I doubt it can be heard very far away as the Bell Tower is in the middle of a big busy roundabout in the centre of Xi’an.
That’s all now, hope you liked my photos.
Disclaimer: all photos used are my own and I do not give permission for them to be reproduced on other websites.