from the Terracotta army site. Worth seeing.
from the Terracotta army site. Worth seeing.
Pit 2, located 20 meters north of Pit 1 is very different. Smaller (but still 6,000 meters square), and shaped in an “L” it contains mixed military forces of archers, charioteers, cavalry and infantry. At present, a large portion remains unexcavated.
I would think that when deciding if you wish to be an archaeologist, the first question you should ask yourself is “Do I like jigsaw puzzles?”
Well preserved charioteers.
A few more shots from Pit 1. The front of the pit is all assembled in neat rows.
The back is still under excavation with the soldiers being excavated and assembled.
Saran wrap, not just for keeping your produce fresh.
If you look closely, you can see remnants of the original paint.
An army partly assembled. Note how each horse is different.
A chariot partially recovered.
One last shot from Pit 1, to give you a sense of scale.
They still have lots to uncover.
I wonder how many Terracotta warriors and dirt this old cart has hauled over the years?
Looks like new tires.
The Terracotta Army went on my personal bucket list many years go while living in England, at the O2 for one reason – seeing 30 warriors at the British Museum did not cut it.
The army is estimated to have taken 36 years to complete and 700,000 workers. At the time I did not know where Xi’an was in China, I certainly did not think that we would be living in Tokyo (although Singapore was always heavily under family consideration), but I knew it had to happen.
It was worth the wait and the effort. Broken into a series of “pits”, with several still being excavated, the scale of the place is staggering.
Thousands of warriors, each different standing in rows, their weapon disintegrated but their bodies remaining. Amazing.
On many you can still see the paint remnants.
Rows, and rows and rows.
Oddly enough, this is the only warrior I saw that looked out of proportion. A charioteer.
700,000 people and 36 years. It boggles the mind.
The Terracotta Army, Xi’an, China.
At first I thought that the owner of this bike was simply having a tough time letting go, the way that it is locked to the office chair.
Our guide explained that the bike owner was using the two items to protect their parking spot. Cones simply don’t do it.
Colored balloons marking the local health care center.
My final posted shot on Beijing, at the market.
A great place to explore (just make sure you bring a polarizing filter to cut through the haze).
As seen on the side streets of Beijing, China.
The grey is the wall color of choice for the city.
If you have followed this blog at some point you know that one of my favorite places to visit while traveling is a market. Beijing was no different. The markets are the best places to enjoy the “life” of a city.
When you stand outside a street vendor like this, it makes our North American dining experience seem so .. pedestrian.
A few black and whites.
It also seems like their food is fresher. Farmer to market …. perhaps it is different in January.
Our last tour in Beijing was the traditional residences of China, which are slowly but surely disappearing under the crush of concrete.
Hutongs (simplified Chinese: 胡同; traditional Chinese: 衚衕; pinyin: hútòng; Wade–Giles: hu2-t’ung4) are a type of narrow streets or alleys, commonly associated with northern Chinese cities, most prominently Beijing.
In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences. Many neighbourhoods were formed by joining onesiheyuan to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another. The word hutong is also used to refer to such neighbourhoods.
Since the mid-20th century, the number of Beijing hutongs has dropped dramatically as they are demolished to make way for new roads and buildings. More recently, some hutongs have been designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history.
A few of my favorite shots from around the Hutongs.
Everything is painted grey … I was told in large part due to the previous Olympics, although now it is the standard. Black and white shots seem to be the best, as it was rather hazy.
Very old mailboxes.
Progress. Slowly, but surely, the old buildings disappear.
Many of the cars have pieces of carpet or wood against the wheels – to stop the dogs and cats from marking the tires.
Mixed in behind the side streets are a few remaining temples and buildings – buried deep.
This many hundreds of years old plaque (if I remember correctly) is a list of the local elders.
An amazing hike.
Mind the gap.
An excellent perspective on the elevation changes – as the wall winds up and down the hills/mountains.
A rather “overly steep” part of the wall that we did not climb.
And one that we did.
A truly impressive remnant of days long past.
Lunch came to an end. It was time to re-start our hike.
Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300mm f/2.8 USM.
Resting at the top of a tower after the arduous climb up the mountain/hill left time for reflection and two predominant thoughts.
First, we simply hiked the 800m up to get to the top. Imagining the quantity of human labor needed to move rocks/bricks to the top and build the walls seemed very “pyramid-like” in effort.
My second thought was what would it be like living up here as a soldier? Kilometers of empty wall to patrol as you watched for the hordes from the north. Looking out across the mountain from our tower you can see the wall snake it’s way along a ridge. In this area, a strategic pass between the mountains, the Chinese had built walls along different ridges.
A 300mm shot. You can see the wall making it’s way up some very steep terrain. According to our guide, that area of the wall is like mountain climbing and quite treacherous, for some deadly.
Imagine sitting on that tower 700 years ago, watching for an invasion in January.
Along the Great Wall of China. It was a beautiful sky. Config: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300mm f/2.8 USM.
It also gives you an idea of the elevation changes as the wall snakes up and down the mountains.
At the top of the hill and the starting point of our hike on the Great Wall of China. The un-trod path.
There are two ways to do the great wall. Hitting the tourist areas which are cleared out, easy access and involves a cable ride up and taking a ride down to the bottom via a toboggan OR hitting an abandoned area with a guide.
We chose the abandoned hike route.
The hike was 7-8km long and not the easiest. A fit family, but when it is 35C (+humidity), not a cloud in the sky and the first 1.5km involves an elevation change of 800 meters, your fitness is tested (Actually, the other 3 did fine, the only one tested was me). Fortunately, our guide provided the right amount of instruction on quantity of water and ensured that we brought enough food.
I will say that about half way up with a backpack full of bottled water, my Canon 5D Mark III, the 28-300mm f/2.8 lens and a 50mm lens stored in my pack (Why a 50mm? No idea), I was wondering if I should have packed a bit lighter.
Our starting point was at what use to be a resort hotel of some type – no longer.
The chicken coop at the start of the hike.
The trail up is a mix of steps (In a few of the steepest places) and rough hiking trails – at a 45 degree or steeper angle. The math makes sense, 1.5km, 800m elevation. Clearly not over-used. In our 7-8 hour hike, we saw 2 other people who were on a hike with their dogs.
As we stopped, we took the time to look back over the valley. Beautiful views and a clear day. A stark contrast to the polluted Beijing sky.
It is a long way up but very satisfying when we came around a corner and the wall came into sight.
Our destination where we will break out lunch.
A good start.
Forbidden City, Beijing, China.
I thought these people were dressing up as part of the Forbidden City – as an attraction. Turns out that you can rent traditional garb to wear during your visit.
This is a common thing in Japan also – where men and women will rent kimonos for the day and tour around the city. I tried to think what a Canadian equivalent would be – his and her Mountie uniforms?
In the Forbidden City the most interesting thing to me was the roofs. I can only imagine how much was lost during the different cultural purges of the last century.
Right below the roof at the front of this shot is where a Starbucks use to be. It was removed prior to the Olympics as it was not good for their image. I would hate to have seen the lineup.
A few more roof shots from around the city. Grass can grow in the toughest of places.
Deer are a popular ornament for under the roofs. Blue deer.
In the Forbidden City, Beijing, China.
A little bit on the history of the wall:
Early reference to the tradition of putting a screen wall at the gate is found in the Analects, 3:22: therein, it is mentioned as a trivial ritual norm ("The princes of States have a screen intercepting the view at their gates". 邦君樹塞門, trans. by James Legge).
Built in 1771. It is beautiful to look at.
To the Forbidden City, Beijing China. Waiting for our guide ….
Across from Tiananmen square, our next stop:
The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. It is located in the center of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost 500 years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.
Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 ha (180 acres). The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
Filled with buildings that once housed royalty, it is worth a wander.
Our guide mentioned that this is a single piece of stone, climbing up the steps. If I recollect the story correctly, it took thousands of people a very long time to move it here as one piece and then hundreds to carve it – with dragons.
Dragons are everywhere.
According to Wikipedia, the Chinese dragon remains important in today’s Chinese culture:
Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, hurricane, and floods. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck for people who are worthy of it. With this, the Emperor of China usually used the dragon as a symbol of his imperial power and strength.
In Chinese daily language, excellent and outstanding people are compared to a dragon, while incapable people with no achievements are compared with other, disesteemed creatures, such as a worm. A number of Chinese proverbs and idioms feature references to a dragon, for example: "Hoping one’s son will become a dragon" (望子成龍, i.e. be as a dragon).
The number of dragons is very important – on the roofs, always an odd number. But not all lucky numbers are odd (to my surprise).
One things is consistent through the shots, the grey sky.
I wonder. Down a side street in Beijing.
As I have mentioned before on this blog, when traveling we love to visit markets; seeing what the locals eat and how they live their lives.
I would say that the Chinese medicine market was a new level of different for our travels. As we pulled up our guide explained that these markets are in decline, replaced by Chinese pharmacies that carry every type of herbal medicine imaginable.
Perhaps the decline is a display issue. A few of these sellers were bagging their wares to sell to other shops.
A few of my favorite shots.
That is a bag of snakes.
I cannot remember, but these were some type of fish. There was a common theme through the market, almost everything would cure one condition … and contribute to fertility or virility.
Odd to see Sea Horses.
The shells of turtles, for some reason that bothered me.
As did seeing these deer horns.
Last shots. Of course, there has to be lots, and lots of beetles.
Really interesting to see.
At the Chinese medicine market in Xi’an, China.
That calculator looks like it has a lot of miles on it.
This is the Temple of Heaven, on a warm day with the smog backdrop. We were not there on a clear blue-sky day.
The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven (simplified Chinese: 天坛; traditional Chinese: 天壇; pinyin: Tiāntán; Manchu: Abkai mukdehun) is a complex of religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It has been regarded as aTaoist temple, although Chinese heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism.
To me the more interesting view is the walkway to the temple. Filled with retired people and families, enjoying each other – playing cards and different board games. There is a lot going on, and I am sure there is some money changing hands in some of those games.
Shirts optional. The Chinese men had an interesting cultural norm of pulling their t-shirts up from the bottom and tucking them through the neck, exposing their mid-sections. It was hot, but for me, not hot enough to resort to that (smile).
I think I would call this shot “friends”.
Another shot from the hiking along an abandoned section of the Great Wall of China this summer.
We did not go this way.
We went this way.
An abandoned section of the Great Wall. Amazing that these bricks are 900 years old and were hand carried up a 800m incline centuries ago.
Traveling around Asia you become accustom to different levels of garbage. In the emerging countries where people are trying to make a living you see garbage everywhere for logical reasons; when you are trying to feed your family, ensuring that every plastic bag is picked up doesn’t really make the priority list.
In Tokyo, which went through a terrible pollution stage post World War II, the emergence of wealth has led to incredible cleanliness. Garbage in Japan is about as common as immigrants – not often seen; truly the cleanest city in the world.
Which left me wondering, what would it be like outside of the business areas that I was accustomed to in China? We have all read about the terrible pollution, so would that also mean that the same disregard for the environment is prevalent along back streets?
The answer was a a surprise – it is quite clean. As we traveled around Beijing and Xian, you did not see piles of roadside or back alley garbage. Instead, I saw a lot of people collecting garbage.
My favorite garbage collectors were those at Tiananmen Square and like many people in China, they were on electric scooters.
Our tour of China started with Tiananmen square. It is interesting to tour the square knowing the history. I don’t know what I was expecting to see? Obviously not demonstrators or anything of that ilk.
In the end it is a big square, with a few monuments to those deemed worth. My shots; Config Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 28-300mm f/2.8 USM. A note on the shots: China was very frustrating. I did not bring the right filters and the haze/pollution played havoc with the shots.
One of the buildings surrounding the square.
The big communist party building beside the square, The Great Hall of the People. When you read through the history you will find that occasionally it is used for artistic performances. I found it funny that the first western performer was a country western singer. I will refrain from explaining why I found that point so humorous.
This is the Tiananmen.
The Tiananmen (simplified Chinese: 天安门; traditional Chinese: 天安門; pinyin: Tiān’ānmén), or Gate of Heavenly Peace, is a famous monument in Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China. It is widely used as a national symbol. First built during the Ming Dynasty in 1420, Tiananmen is often referred to as the front entrance to the Forbidden City. However, the Meridian Gate (午门) is the first entrance to the Forbidden City proper, while Tiananmen was the entrance to the Imperial City, within which the Forbidden City was located.
The monument to the People’s Heroes, manned by young communist party members and commemorating wars such as the Opium war, the war against Japan and the different revolutions. When you read through China’s history and how imperialist forces abused this country, it is no wonder that self defense is so important to them.
The square is filled with uniformed and plain clothes security. Many standing at attention.
An interesting stroll through the square.
I have travelled to China a number of times, but always on business. Business travel involves plane > cab > hotel > client/office > hotel > plane. Maybe a restaurant in between. I never make time for personal travel while on the road.
But China was on the bucket list and we finally got there. Posts to follow … But I had to put this picture up from when we hiked an abandoned part of the Great Wall. It captures the moment well. Just us, our guide and the wilderness.
Everyone knows about the pollution problems in China, especially people in Asia. The cities function in a perpetual haze with varying levels of visibility.
While walking down a street in Shanghai the other week I saw a gaggle of scooters coming my way. Not an uncommon appearance in Asian cities.
As they sped towards me I was expecting to be assaulted by the smell of gasoline and the high pitch hum of single stroke engines. To my surprise, they zinged by quietly. It turns out that most scooters in China cities are electric. They are cheap to power and cheap to buy ($100-300).
A very interesting chart on the wall of a client’s lobby. Look squarely at the two big blocks who make up 43% of the world’s emissions (surprised at how small Russia and India are).
From country to country the vehicle choice changes. In Vietnam it was the scooter. In China it is the 3 wheeler. Config: Canon 5D Mark III, 50mm f/1.2.
Here is a pic of the average family’s vehicle (note the his foot placement – there must be an engine in there somewhere). It was amazing to see just how much they could pile on one of these vehicles.
The upscale family’s vehicle.
Kicking it old style, human powered.
Industrial. This guy was smiling awkwardly because he cut everyone off. (NOTE – no helmets!)
A very different world.
Via my iPhone.
A very fast train (In China)
Excuse me .. I was looking for the Vitamin C aisle?
A friend told me it was –26C and snowing like mad in Calgary. I do not miss snow. I never need to see snow again. We had one day of snow in Tokyo last year, I did not like it. Shut the city down.
Just say “NO” to snow.
I was in the elevator at the Westin in Beijing the other day and looked over to see this young man standing beside me.
It was clear he was right out of college (or a couple years out), Tumi bag in hand (Excellent choice, mine is 10 years old and still looks new despite 1M miles) and heading out for the day. I had to ask …
He was recruited by Boston Consulting out of University, lives in Shanghai and is working in China.
For the majority of people in this world they don’t achieve their full potential simply because they cannot see what is possible. I did not understand that fully until my mid-20s. The only guidance I was every given is “You must go to University”, nothing else.
So each time, the boundaries would be pushed and it was big, open territory. For many, it is like the elephant and the rope.
As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.
He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
Anything is possible. You just have to envision it, build a plan and execute. Failure along the way is inevitable. Nothing worthwhile is easy.
But anything is possible in this world. Our world is flat; video conferencing via Skype, cheap flights to anywhere, Google Translate ….. It gets easier to connect globally every day.
Something our children have learned first hand. It will be interesting to see what they choose to do with that. Hopefully it involves an elevator in China.
I would be interested to hear the stories of others ….