After some toast, coffee, eggs and moon cake we met up with Bajing and our driver and headed for the Great Wall. We were heading for the Juyong Pass or Juyongguan part of the Great Wall. Roughly 50 kilometers from Beijing City it’s one of the three great passes of the wall. The other two are Jiayuguan and Shanhaiguan. According to Wikipedia -
“The present Pass was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) and received much renovation later. It is a very important strategic place connecting the inner land and the area near the northern border of China.”
At the entrance to the Great Wall.
At the bottom of the wall it quickly became apparent that the actual climb was going to be reasonably difficult, there were more than 2,000 steps to the very top and there were at least this many people doing the exact same thing as us! We were given two hours to get as far as we could and then back down again. I found it pretty gruelling. Many of the steps were uneven and some parts were very steep. We made it to the tower in the middle of the picture below.
Exhausted, we were whisked off for lunch at a Cloisonné Factory. After some more tasty Chinese food – pork dumplings, broccoli, egg fried rice and sweetand sour pork we headed downstairs for a look around the factory. Cloisonné is an ancient Chinese decorative art created with copper wires and colored enamel. The factory was huge and there were an equally impressive range of products for sale. Unfortunately not as cheap as we were expecting!
Next stop was Ming Tombs. The tombs are home to 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). We made a brief stop at the Changling tomb, home to Emperor Zhu Di and his empresses. This is one of only two tombs open to the public, the other, Dingling, is underground. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of the gardens around the tombs; however our craving for nature was met with delight at our next stop – The Temple of Heaven.
The temple grounds are filled with ancient trees and roses. The temple itself was built in 1420, during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City (which we’d be checking out tomorrow). In the 16th century the Jiajing Emperor built three other temples in Beijing – the Temple of Sun, the Temple of Earth and the Temple of Moon.
The Temple of Heaven is the only one still standing. At the centre of the complex is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. Wikipedia states it’s “a triple-gabled circular building, 36 meters in diameter and 38 meters tall, built on three levels of marble stone base constructed of wood with no nails.” All the buildings on the temple grounds have dark blue roof tiles representing the sky or heaven.
After a quick visit to the Yuan Hou Silk factory, where we got to see silk worms in action it was duck for dinner followed by a Kung Fu show.
The show was one of the highlights of our trip. Chun Yi, the Legend of Kung Fu (at the Red Theatre) is a big production, similar in style to a Cirque De Soleil show. The show follows the story of a young boy who is dropped off at a Buddist temple by his mother, learns kung fu and progresses towards enlightenment to become the next leader of the temple.