Photos and stories about my expat experience in China, currently in Bejing.
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Di Tan Gong Yuan

After visiting the "Temple of Heaven" park (Tian Tan gong yuan) two weeks ago, today we went to the "Temple of Earth" park (Di Tan gong yuan) to have a look. Entrance was a staggering 2 Yuan (Eur 0,20).

Beautiful fresh spring colors everywhere

My girlfriend had just bought a new camera, and constantly takes photos 'for practice', she says :)

rose bud

rose bud

rose bud

Adapted photo of the bark of a tree


A bicycle in the park

While we were sitting down at a street barbecue restaurant, waiting for our chicken wings and lamb skewers, we met a little girl who was also interested in photography. She could barely lift the big camera, but she snatched it from our hands and started shooting away.

Street barbecue; the best!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Visiting Luoyang

My girlfriend's brother lives in Luoyang, and her parents are there now too to visit. We went to pay them a visit too, and spent the weekend there.

This is a demonstration of Shaolin Kung Fu, because Luoyang is very close to the old Shaolin Temple, where Kung Fu originated. In this park, some foreigners were practicing with a crowd of people around them.

As usual, we were welcomed with a lot of great food and drinks. On Sunday we ate in a Hunan restaurant, and drank nice baijiu (very strong rice wine)

Our visit coincided with the annual flower festival in the city of Luoyang. It meant that tour buses and crowds of people were lining the streets, but also beautiful peony flowers everywhere!

Close up

In the evening we went to a park were, because of the flower festival, they had built a sort of fun fair. There was a lot of lights and music (noise) and many people.

Caramel candy

A local 'fake antique' market in the old town. Nearly everything here is 'fake' - meaning not as old and authentic as the vendor makes it seem. Especially old coins with rust and pottery (with added mud for a more authentic effect) were on sale everywhere. Some things still looked nice, real or fake, and so many people came to buy 'cheap' antiques here.

Birds were also on sale. These poor guys had almost no space to move

Imagine the noise here

and here

The old streets of Luoyang are nice and although I saw some foreigners (three) there were hardly any tourist shops or overpriced 'souvenirs' on sale.

Our group :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Out around Beijing

While my parents were visiting, I took them out around in Beijing. Every day something different.

Caught red handed! (or should I say red-faced...?)
This little yellow terrorist has been eating all the flowers, throwing them around the house, eating the remote controls and newspapers, and making lots of noise.

City gate South of Tian'anmen Square

City gate South of Tian'anmen Square by night

We walked around one of the many hutongs

People playing Go on a sunny spring afternoon. They don't seem to mind that they are sitting on a busy intersection (near Zhangzizhonglu) with the traffic rushing past them.

Too bad I didn't record the sound this dog was making. In the hutong that we walked in, it seemed like everyone and all the animals were staring at us.

The local fish vendor

These fish were still alive; sometimes jumping out onto the ground. That's as fresh as it gets around here.

Someone left a pair of yellow boots

Plastic bottle buyer. People walk all around the city to collect empty plastic bottles and sell them per kilo.

Piles of paper and cardboard are delivered in small carts and stacked onto this truck.

This car has no hood, a hole in the wind screen and a busted front.

We ended the day at "Li Qun's Beijing Roast Duck Restaurant". It is a famous place, and we had only one hour to eat. The roast duck was delicious.

By the front door guests can inspect 'their duck' being roasted


I title this photo: "Abbey Road" ~ it is actually policemen parading on Tian'anmen Square

Two girls asked if they could take a photo with my mother

More security forces on Tian'anmen Square

The Great Wall (hiking from Jingshanling to Simatai)

My parents came to visit, and I've been showing them around Beijing for all of last week. On Wednesday we visited the Great Wall. There are many places along the Wall to go to, and it is always the question which site is the least touristic but still accessible. We chose to put on our hiking boots and walk from Jinshanling to Simatai sections of the Wall, which is approximately 10km over steep hills. It was pretty exhausting, especially in the bright sunny day.

We had left our house at 6:30 AM and after a subway to Dongzhimen boarded a bus to Miyun, a town close to the Wall. There we tried to take a local bus, but the next one was at 11:00 so we negotiated a taxi (return trip for 150 RMB). It wasn't such a bad deal, as there were four of us and a private pickup would be much faster than a local bus. Our driver dropped us off at one place, and would pick us up at the other in the afternoon.

The Wall was amazing, like one would expect. Along with us was a large group of foreigners with tour guide, but we quickly managed to overtake them and were pretty much alone all day, except for a few hikers along the way.
The route we were taking lead us up and down and was steep at some points. Most sections of the Wall were not restored, and looked authentic.

We walked for nearly four hours through the hot sun, but the views were definately worth a little sunburn!

The area around the Wall is dry and dusty, with the exeption of a couple colorful trees with blossoms.

We passed countless watchtowers, some of them no more than ruins

Chen Yi with everpresent camera and tripod

This woman followed us half the way. When we started, a group of local women followed us and helped us, asking us to buy souvenirs later. They were very friendly (too friendly) and after a while became pushy to sell us souvenirs (post cards, books and drinks). This woman followed my mother for one hour, almost holding her hand every step she took, until we told her to get lost.

The total length of the Great Wall is more than 6,000 km, and it seems endless when standing on top. I pity the builders who had to carry all the heavy stones up here in the middle of nowhere.

There are many small hills, with climbs of a few hundred meters in altitude (up to 500)

The steepest section is 70 degrees; that is nearly vertical!

Halfway we had lunch. We had brought a picnick with wine (Great Wall wine!). We ate fried fish, potato salad, sausages, bread with Dutch cheese and drank a glass of wine. After this my bag felt several kilo's lighter (might have also been partly due to the wine on a hot day)

Four hours is more than enough for the hike. We walked fast, and took many breaks along the way. Neverhteless it was a serious excercise and by the end of the day we were all tired.

The weather was perfect; 27 degrees or so, a little windy and almost clear skies.

20 minutes before the end, we reached the Simatai section of the wall, which belongs to Beijing (the other side belongs to another county) and we had to pay again (40 RMB). A sneaky tactic to earn some extra money, we thought. The Simatai section of the wall was not so impressive, because it was mostly restored and looked 'new'.

My parents enjoying the view

Fortunately, the second part of the hike was mostly downhill.

The end of our hike is in sight (halfway up the next hill)