Huanghuacheng Great Wall hike

April 25th, 2015 Comments off

MatevzH_zid_huang-0585Sobota, sonce, dan za izlet. Tokrat je bil cilj kitajski zid. Ampak to ne kak turistični del, ampak en lep, strm del, kjer naj ne bi bilo preveč turistov. Gremo na del zidu, ki se imenuje Huanguacheng, cirka 65km iz Pekinga. Ta del zidu pravzaprav sestavljata dva dela. En zelo “turističen”, ki se imenuje Lakeside (Xishuiyu) in en del, ki je uradno zaprt za obiskovalce, ob jezeru Jintang. Pravzaprav, zanimiva tura bi bilo peš povezati oba dela, saj je zid tukaj mestoma popolnoma obnovljen, na nekaterih mestih pa ne. Da se iti tudi proti vzhodu, do prvega večjega kraja – Jiugongshan – je cirka 7 ur hoje (vmes pa parkrat zmanjka zidu)

MatevzH_zid_huang-0620Na turističen del tokrat nismo šli, po eni strani zaradi pomanjkanja časa, po drugi pa tudi zato ker je bilo ogromno ljudi (vstopnina je drugače 45 juanov). Ta del je zanimiv zato, ker so malo nižje zgradili jez in potopili del doline, tako da gre zid sedaj tudi pod vodo.

Toliko bolj zanimiv pa je neturističen del, ki je očitno nekoč bil odprt – ko pa se je porušilo eno stopnišče (oz. pristop na zid) pa so ga zaprli. Podjetni domačini se seveda znajdejo in pobirajo vstopnino, ki znaša tri juane. Zgleda da pobirajo zelo selektivno. Ampak OK. Zid na tem mestu “prekinjata” jez in cesta, kar so verjetno zgradili mnogo kasneje. Sigurno pa je, da je bila na mestu kjer je sedaj jez, včasih ena pomembna in velika postojanka, saj je tukaj potekala že včasih pot. In hoditi se da na obe strani. Na eni strani bi po precej kilometrih (vmes manjka še celo nekaj zidu) prišel do turističnega dela in potopopljenega zidu, na drugi pa gre proti vzhodu in po več dnevih hoje bi se npr. prišlo do dela Mutianyju.

MatevzH_zid_huang-0666Pristop na zid je po strmi, približno petmetrski jekleni lestvi. Kitajcev tokrat ni ogromno, in čimvišje gremo, tem manj jih je. Tukaj je prav zanimivo po kakšnih grebenih so to gradili zid, saj so šli na vsak, pa če je še tako izpostavljen vrh. Prvi del je relativno enostaven in zgleda lepo obnovljen. Na parih mestih se postavi malo bolj pokonci. Na vrhu je utrdba in s tam se odprejo novi pogledi na nadaljevanju zidu. Je pa res, da čim dlje se gre, tem manj je obnovljen. S Samotom greva še malo naprej, na del ki pa postane zelo strm – pravzaprav tako strm da so naredili strme stopnice in moraš gor plezati po vseh štirih (še bolj je pa to neprijetno). Naprej proti vzhodu pa je zid že deloma v zelo bogem stanju.

V vsakem primeru, zelo priporočljiv krajši sprehod kot alternativa turističnim in zelo obiskanim delom zidu. Edini problem je dostop, saj ni prav enostavno z javnim prevozom (čeprav, to je na poti proti Mutianyju, ki je drugi najbolj obiskani del zidu).

Lama Temple

April 19th, 2015 Comments off

MatevzH_zid_lama-7962There is a bunch of different temples in Beijing. Lama Temple – Yonghegong – is maybe a bit different. It is very colourful (could be most colourful temple in Beijing) and it is also best preserved and renowned Tibetan Buddhist temple in China (out of Tibet, of course).

Construction of the temple began in late 17th century. At thebeginning it was just another imperial palace of the Qing Dynasty and the official residence of the eunuchs. Only in the mid 18th century it was converted into a “lamasery”, basically a monastery for monks who practiced Tibetan budism.

MatevzH_zid_lama-7985The complex is open to visitors daily from 9 to 17 hours. It starts with the short avenue, and it consists of five temples – pavillions (every pavillion further on is more important). In fact, in each of the temples there are statues of Buddha: The most important is the Pavilion of infinite happiness, which is also the highest hall of the the temple. It houses a statue of href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maitreya” Matreya Buddha (visible only 18m). The entire statue which is carved from a rare sandal tree is 26 meters in height and eight meters in diameter, with eight meters buried under the ground. There are also other beautiful woodcarvings all around the temple.

If you walk around Beijing in April, you don’t see many tourists on the street (apart of the Forbidden city). Here the situation is different, plenty of them are crammed into the temple, and at certain hours it can get quite busy. This is also one of the few places in Beijing where you can see public expression of faith and religion. At the entrance you get incense, which you then burn (and pray) at the conveniently located fireplaces. Actually, the smoke of the fireplaces makes really interesting sight and gives it somewhat mystical connotation.

MatevzH_zid_lama-7961Practical things… Photography is allowed, though not inside the buidlings. Probably there could be a way to steal an odd photo here or there, but i didn’t even try. Even the Chinese were suprisingly very tolerant and didn’t use the cameras or phones… for a change.

Location? A bit away from the Forbidden city, but still conveniently located regarding the public transport. There is even a metro stop nearby (line 2) and several buses go somewhere near. For a visitor there is also a nearby Temple of Earth (around 10m walk to the north) and some hutongs nearby. Imperial college is also not far.

Aja. Fotografija je načeloma dovoljena, razen znotraj templjev, kjer je prepovedano fotkati bude. Verjetno bi se dalo tudi ukrasti kako fotografijo tam, ampak nisem niti poskušal. Tudi kitajci so bili začuda zelo strpni in so umaknili svoje telefone.

Categories: 2015 China, Asia, photo, China, travel Tags:

Beijing rounaround – Chaoyang parc

April 16th, 2015 Comments off

MatevzH_pek_runaround-3627
Chaoyang park is the largest open green space in Beijing, constructed in 1984 on what were formerly the grounds of the Prince’s Palace.

As I was living near the parc (actually, “only” 1,2km away) running in Chaoyang parc was the most convenient if I didn’t want to run around the streets of Beijing. And there are not many other green. Actually, one could run outside the parc on the east side, however it is located just near 4th ring road :-( If the olympic forest parc is free, one has to pay entry fee for Chaoyang Parc. It costs CNY 5; CNY8 for monthly ticket; CNY80 for yearly ticket (not include any entertainment facilities and activities). For monthly and yearly ticket a small photo is needed.

Among the week parc is quite popular among pensioners, babysitters and kindergartens :-) During holidays and weekends this is go to spot for families. There are also some runners, but it is not overcrowded with runners. As usual, you cannot bring your bike and cycle around, however it is quite runner friendly. They marked four different distances – 1km, 2km, 4.5km in 6km. Tracks are nicely routed, albeit a bit curvy. There are also plenty of others paths, where you can shorten-lengthen your running track. During the week its great to run (pollution permitting), I’m not sure it is the same for the weekend. Don’t expect to do your fast runs around noon on weekends. Surrounding is great, there are plenty of trees, which is great during hotter months. Lake also gives a special “coolness” and its never boring. In the spring, blossoming Japanese cherry trees are bonus.

If you get thirsty, there is no need to go outside the park. There are plenty of food and drinks sellers near the attractions.

Regarding the attractions. This is go to parc to have fun for the kids. Plenty of adrenaline attractions (quite kitschy ones), water park, tennis courts, basketball courts, etc. You can also rent electric cars, boats, etc. At the north-west entry there is a Solana shopping centre. Very up-market and expensive shopping with even more expensive restaurants. Nearby is also Lucky Street with restaurants on one side and Sino-Japanese Youth Swimming pool on the other side.

Categories: 2015 China, Asia, photo, China, Travel list, sport, Run Tags:

Beijing rounaround – Olympic forest parc

March 22nd, 2015 Comments off

MatevzH_Beijing_runaround-3390Beijing is known as the most runner friendly city. Actually, sportsmen friendly city. Mainly due to high traffic and pollution. Despite that, it hosted 2008 summer olympic games, where several competitors struggled with polluted air. Those were also the olympic games that were one of the most expensive ones (surpassed only by Sochi in 2014), the estimated cost was around 40 billion USD. And they built. A lot. As a byproduct, an olympic forest parc was also built, with plenty of lakes, trees and running paths.

MatevzH_Beijing_runaround-3357Its quite straightforward to get to the parc, though its not close to other popular spots in Beijing. The best way to get there is metro, line 8 (green) which run underneath the olympic venue. To reach different Olympic building (from stadium to Olympic forest parc) there are three different metro stops (Olympic Sports Center, Olympic Green in South Gate of Forest Park, distances among the metro stations are quite long). For enthusiast runner, the best one is the last one, South Gate of Forest Park, where exit D leads you directly into the parc.

There is no entry fee for the parc (which is rarity for Beijing), and parc is open between 9am and 5pm – though i was there during the winter – in the summer could be open longer). Parc is divided by 5th ring road into two pars. Southern part is more crowded, and central part there is a lake. For the runner conditions are great. Three distances are marked – 3km, 5km and 10km. You just need to follow the markings. Each kilometer there are distance markings. The route is not boring, its quite twisty and leads over plenty of bridges – on two places there is also some uphill. There is even a swamp, however it was dried out when i was there due to lack of rain. Northern part is a bit further away (some uphill over the 5th ring road) and is less crowded. Also the road is wider and less twisty, for my taste it even gets a bit boring. In general, it is forbidden to cycle, though one can use electric minibus.

MatevzH_Beijing_runaround-3404My plan was to run 10km. Route goes through both pars of the parc – south and north. Of course i missed the crossroad and unexpectedly ran 5km loop. It wasn’t boring and i was maybe looking too much around :-) Despite the weekday, there were plenty of people on the southern loop – both runners and walkers. I just cannot imagine how crowded this parc could get during midday weekend day.

Starting second lap, i glanced a bit more thoroughly the map :-) And found a crossroad over the 5th ring to run a complete 10km lap. Northern part was a bit more boring, there is less of people and straights are long and no uphills. Great for speed work ;-)

As I was not really tired after running around 16-17km around the parc, i decided to have a look of other Olympic games venues. Everything is quite monumental. Building are large, avenue is wide, though everything looks a bit empty (and there are plenty of people around). I walked all the way (another 2-3km) to Birds nest stadium and Watercube swimming pool. It is possible to see both, of course, for an entry fee. The signs of summer Olympic games remain, though there are currently new signs – Beijing is a candidate of winter Olympic games in 2022. Honestly, i don’t really think this venue goes together with a spirit of winter games. Just like Sochi didn’t go. But there is another player in this game. Money. And Chinese have it plenty, so i don’t have doubt that Beijing will be first city to host both summer and winter Olympic games.

MatevzH_Beijing_runaround-3426To sum it up. Location of the parc and venues is not great for a casual visitor to Beijing. With a metro it takes at least 30-40 minutes from the centre. There is not really much to see, though… i’m glad to have been hear. As for running, forest parc is great. Just not for that short half or one hour run. Maybe for a longrun. And even that when everything will be green and the trees will have leaves.

Categories: 2015 China, photo, China, Run Tags:

Forbidden palace in Beijing

March 21st, 2015 Comments off

MatevzH_fobidden-3467The 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. It served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government for almost 500 years.

MatevzH_fobidden-7140Built 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.

The palace is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some five centuries, it houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities.

Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor (Emperor Chengzu, Zhu Di) of the Ming dynasty. It was completed fourteen years later in 1420, and then the capital city was moved from Nanjing to Beijing the next year. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor.

MatevzH_fobidden-7300Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in it. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire.

My experience is that the visitor needs at least four hours to visit it. It is not expensive to visit and you can take photos :-) During winter it costs 40 yuan, while in the summer (April-November) 60 yuan. There is extra for clock and watch room and Treasure Gallery, which is a forbidden city in small dimension. Both cost extra 10 yuan. There is plenty of visitors, and most of them is chinese. Most groups come between 11 and 14:00, so this could be the busiest time to visit. But you are never alone.

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