Saturday, January 23, 2016

Part I: China: The Long Wall & More

In 2015, I turned 50. I wanted to celebrate that. So I opted for the trip of a lifetime.  China. Tibet. Nepal. Bhutan. And my amazing and beautiful wife. All together. Over the course of four blog posts, you will catch some glimpses into that journey, which began in October and finished in November of 2015. It has been a couple of months, I know, but here are some of the pictures, from which I hope you can get some sense of the constant wonder we experienced. It was a truly magnificent journey...

We began with a 14-hour flight from DC to Beijing, where we stayed at the New World Beijing Hotel.

The restaurant there was fabulous, and the Chef, whom I met, was happy to oblige a vegan. Very cool.

Our first outing was to the Temple of Heaven, which is located in an extensive park that is apparently a popular gathering place for retirees, many of whom were dancing in groups as we walked through.

The grounds of the park featured wonderful structures and walkways...

Where folks gathered to play games, chat, or jam on traditional instruments.

In one instance, the musicians were joined by a man who felt the spirit moving him and added some vocal. Fabulous!

Here we are at the Temple of Heaven itself. A fantastic building constructed in the early 15th century. Think about that. Over 500 years old. And still beautiful.

The Temple was in the midst of a large complex of buildings that were all a wonder to behold.

Then we went to Tiananmen Square.

Where we posed with Chairman Mao in front of the Gate of Heavenly Peace..

We then visited the Forbidden City.

Which was stunning.

And huge.

Featuring centuries old throne rooms.

And architectural splendor.

It was a warren of walled streets.

And courtyards.

Filled with treasures like this ancient jade pottery.

The attention to detail on everything was almost overwhelming.

Of course, not all this went completely untainted by the West.

After the Forbidden City, we went to the Imperial Summer Palace.

Where we again marveled at the details in the art and architecture.

This is just a small piece of the detail in one corner of one of the covered walkways!

Dragon boats!

Everything was laid out so as to make me want to wander all day...

Next on our itinerary was the Great Wall. When we stopped to pick up our passes, we encountered a school group. My childhood field trip never went anywhere like that!

Looking up at one part of the mountain ranges along which the Great Wall runs.

The view from the top of the steps that lead up to the Wall where we were.

The Great Wall itself looked exactly the way I had hoped!

And it just went on forever.

I felt a bit awed by being there. To walk along such an iconic structure was humbling, in a way.

We also visited the Tombs of the Ming Dynasty Emperors.

Where the buildings were roofed with dragons.

And the views were mystical.

We even got to see part of where the Beijing Olympics were held.

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