Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Spirit Way of the Ming Dynasty Tombs (China, Day 2)

Day 2 in China featured a tour of the Spirit Way of the Ming Dynasty Tombs outside of Beijing, followed by a tour of the Badaling section of the Great Wall.  The latter will follow shortly, but for now, here are some photos of the Spirit Way.

Before we could get to the Ming Dynasty Tombs, we had to compete with Beijing's infamous traffic.  Usually it wasn't too bad, considering the massive population, but obviously morning rush hour is a major exception.

The air quality was also much worse today than the previous day.

One of the parts of the Beijing wall fortifications, marking that you are venturing outside of the city.

During the drive, Jing informed us of our destination.

I have no idea who is represented with this statue, but it was still impressive driving by it.

Once we got out of the bus, Suz put on her mask to combat the air pollution.  I went without it.

If you'd like more info about the Ming Tombs, click here.

A map of the complex.  We wouldn't be seeing any actual tombs (the guide books even say it's not most peoples' cup of tea), but only the Spirit Way.

The Spirit Way, however, was much longer than any of us realized.  The start of it is through that gate in the distance.

Possible Chinese New Year decorations...

Here we go!

The Spirit Way is marked by a series of statues that flank each side of the road.  All of these statues are originals, and not modern reproductions.

A wise looking individual.

The statues were extremely photogenic.

Everyone wanted to pose with them...

...even ugly bloggers.

This 5-year old girl was hilarious.  She travels well.

She's still cute, even with the mask on.


"Mess with me and you'll get bludgeoned."

Not all of the statues were of people.  Many animals, both real and mystical, were represented.

Here's an example of a mythical one.

The elephants were the largest statues.

The camels were fairly large, too.

We don't have too many photos of the two of us together in China, but this is one of them.

At look back at how far we walked.

A swifter mode of transportation.

This gate housed some interesting objects, and was the end of the Spirit Way.

Some belated info about the statues.

Suz gets ready to go into the gatehouse.

It's the lucky turtle's butt!  Rub its butt and your wish shall be granted.

His butt actually isn't the largest thing inside.

Suz really wanted luck on our trip.

His nose - not quite as lucky as the butt, but still auspicious!  

The hills offer beautiful views.

The Spirit Way was a pleasant appetizer for the main course of the Great Wall.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Olympic Park, Kung Fu, and Food! - Beijing, China (Day 1)

After about four hours touring the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, it was time for lunch!  Afterwards we went briefly to the Olympic Park, before the tour disembarked back at our hotel.  My wife and I would go out again to see a (very touristy) kung fu performance at a local theatre.  Here are some photos of the end of Day 1.

My wife approaches the restaurant.  No English on the door = darn good food.

They were set up for our party of about 40 people.

The Lazy Susan was the name of the game.

Not a bad place whatsoever.

These meatballs were unexpected, and delicious.  American Chinese food, eat yer heart out.

This first meal ended up being one of the most memorable of the entire trip.  I'd recommend the place if I only knew what it was called and how to find it!

I unfortunately brought the wrong lens with me to the Olympic Park.  The only way I could fit the Beijing National Stadium ("Bird's Nest") into the frame was to be as far back as I was.

Otherwise all of the shots end up looking like this.

Ling Long Pagoda, which houses a broadcasting center.

We officially entered the Beijing Olympic Park through security.

A look back towards town, with something akin to the Forbidden City in the distance.  Notice the air quality decreasing.

This IBM building is curiously designed.

Get your Mao icons, while they're hot!

The Beijing National Aquatics Center, aka the "Water Cube."

Bird's Nest

Beijing traffic wasn't too bad at that hour.

One last look at the Bird's Nest.

The observation tower behind Ling Long Pagoda looked like something out of Blade Runner.

The Water Cube

Overview of the area.

Suz found a funky sculpture.

That night it was time for kung fu.  It may not have been Shaolin, but it was still cool.

Almost as cool was the theatre exterior.

This screen was all we could see for 30 minutes (we got there early to buy tickets).

Photography wasn't allowed, but I risked it to get this shot.  They demonstrated how sharp the spears were before they did this by stabbing melons with them.

Those are three blades on the floor.  They lowered him onto the blades, and then basically started piling things on top of him.  Of course he was fine, but good gravy.

Day 2 in China featured a tour of the Ming Tombs area and the Badaling section of the Great Wall.  Stay tuned.