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Sunday, January 26, 2014

MAO ZEDONG MAUSOLEUM - THE CHINESE GOD IN TIENANMEN SQUARE - CHINA EXPLORATION PROJECT

The Mao Zedong Mausoleum in Tienanmen Square is one of the most famous monuments in Beijing.

Mao Zedong Mausoleum is like a coin with its two faces.

A long queue for a short visit.

A huge building for little to see.

Thousands of people for one person only.

the shrine of the anti-religion man in China has been built for the Chinese human-god.

Mao Zedong peacefully sleeps in the centre of an empty room, under a glass screen.

Comrade Mao looks somehow miserable, dressed in his green uniform, the Chinese flag for blanket.

The Chinese security doesn't give you enough time to properly look at the great statesman.

Chairman Mao looks much more dignified in the large anti camera where he is sculptured in the white stone, seated like a king on his throne, staring deeply over Tiananmen square with the same divine expression Buddha is normally represented.

And as a deity is venerated by many.

Mao Zedong Mausoleum and the Statue of the Chinese Revolution in Tienanmen Square, Beijing.

Thousand of Chinese, most of them in their fifties or older, modestly dressed, come everyday from the far countryside to venerate the man that is still their hero and their god today.

They look poor and they are not particularly well mannered: pushing the fellow visitors racing in an unreal race to be the first to see chairman Mao body mummified in the glass coffin.

Most of this people have a beautiful white flower wrapped in cellophane, bought at the official stalls just at the entrance of the mausoleum.

Mountains of flowers surround the body of chairman Mao in the mausoleum.

Chairman Mao at the end of the day is still be a god, worshipped today by a generation that looks increasingly old and distant from the young Chinese walking in the trendy quarter of Nauloguxian in Beijing, eating at Mac Donald or drinking a western milkshake with pleasure oblivious of their past.

(Note that there are not photos take inside the  Mausoleum in this post as it is strictly forbidden to take photos inside Chairman Mao Mausoleum).




Are you interested in China or are you planning to travel to China?


Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.

Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.


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Saturday, January 25, 2014

THE SUMMER PALACE IN BEIJING - THE CHINA PROJECT - AN AMAZING PLACE IN THE IMPERIAL BEIJING

The amazing Summer Palace in Beijing, reminiscent of the Tibetan architecture


"The Summer Palace in Beijing is clearly a very suitable place for resting but also for thinking and meditating.

The beautiful lake and the romantic causeways of the Summer Palace in Beijing are immediately reminiscent of the lake beauty of the town of Hangzhou famous for its elegance and its beauty".


The Summer Palace in my opinion is even more interesting than the Forbidden City.

The Summer Palace represents a great example of Chinese classical architecture, heavily influenced by the architecture of the now destroyed Nanjing Palace of the Emperor.

The Summer Palace, although practically rebuilt entirely after the Western forces occupation, represents a more innovative and certainly romantic idea of architecture if compared with the Forbidden City.

The beautiful lake and the romantic causeways of the Summer Palace in Beijing are immediately reminiscent of the lake beauty of the town of Hangzhou.

Even the beautiful and elegant bridges and gardens remind of the Southern landscape.

The temples complex built on the side of the Fragrant Hills is beautiful an reminiscent of the Tibetan art and architecture, making good use of those hills that at first sight would have looked more an obstacle than a support to the building of such a beautiful park.
Decorations representing clouds, old Buddha statues and other deities are extremely beautiful.








The ceramics tiles decorating the buildings shine under the sun.

Walking around the paths surrounding the lake you can easily sense the feeling of seclusion and isolation this place offered to the Emperor.

The Summer Palace in Beijing is clearly a very suitable place for resting but also for thinking and meditating.

The Summer Palace in Beijing is a symbol of the Chinese power and of the Chinese art and this probably the reason why the Western powers decided to destroy this historic symbol.

Here you can appreciate the grandness of China, from Tibet to the Suzhou canals, as the canals of this famous town are skilfully reproduced.

The history tells that the Empress Cuxi breaking the traditional rule of the time decided to speak personally to the emissaries of Western countries and choose this wonderful park as a wonderful setting for those meetings, obviously aware of the impression that those settings would make on the foreign emissaries.

The park is huge and the walk along the lake is long but never boring.

Each few steps a new feature appears giving new reasons of interest to the visitor..

A pagoda, a half moon bridge, a willow tree, the lotus flowers floating on the water or maybe just the fishes jumping out from the lake make me easily forget the modern Beijing, although the tall and ugly skyscrapers are just waiting me at the exit gates of the Summer Palace.





Are you interested in China or are you planning to travel to China?



Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.

Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.


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Friday, January 24, 2014

BEIJING - WHAT IS THE FORBIDDEN CITY? - 1ST POST OF OUR CHINA PROJECT



"The Palace, popularly known as the Forbidden City is certainly the most wonderful building in Beijing. 

The dark pink walls, the orange pagoda roofs , the emerald green decorations and the white stone sculptures are a wonderful mix producing an effect of majesty I have never experienced visiting any other royal or imperial palace around the world".


What is the Forbidden City?

The Forbidden City is one of the most impressive places in China.

The Forbidden City is the Imperial Palace in Beijing, although it is famous as The Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City is with the Great Wall one of the most emblematic monuments of the whole China and certainly it deserves to open our China Exploring Project (if you haven't read about our project please click here to read.

This amazing monument, that you have probably seen in Bernardo Bertolucci's movie "The Last Emperor", starring Peter O'Toole, is not just interesting because of its beauty but because with its symbolism represents a great part of Chinese culture, tradition, art and history.

Visiting the Forbidden City you feel all the grandness of a country that dominated the Asian history and the scientific, cultural and technological progress for centuries. 

It is a great fascinating contrast with the modern Chinese buildings and skyscrapers.






What is to see in the Forbidden City?

Wondering in the different courtyards and imagining how the should have looked in the eyes of the people of the XV century you can easily understand the importance and the semidivinity status the Emperor enjoyed.

No wonder the huge Tienanmen Square, symbol of the contemporary Communist power, is situated just in front of the Forbidden City. Not casually Chairman Mao Zedong famous speech that started the Cultural Revolution in China was pronounced from the large gate of the Forbidden City.

Instead than making a boring description of the palace, that you can find in every book and in every site on Internet, I want just to give you some keys to understand it when you will visit it, in person or maybe just through our photos this marvelous monument, see the questions below.





Why the forbidden city so big?

The Forbidden City was the Imperial Palace for twenty-four emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was first built throughout 14 years during the reign of Emperor Chengzu  in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It represent the strength and the richness of one of the biggest empires in history.


Why its walls are purple?

The purple was the color of the the Polar Star (Polaris) according with the old Chinese astronomers. The Polar Star was believed to be in the Central of Heaven. Because the Forbidden City is the house of the heavenly Emperor on heart its color had to be purple.


And why its roof and decoration are yellow?

Yellow is the color of the Imperial family, in the honour of the Imperial family the roof is yellow.


Why the Imperial Palace is called The Forbidden City?

One time few people were admitted in Palace. So for most of the people the entrance was forbidden. And the ones who entered illegally...  were beheaded!

Why the huge portrait of Mao Zedong at the front gate?

To commemorate the Chinese leader and his speech in front of Tienanmen Square





And finally some tips you may find useful to visit the Forbidden City...

1) Allow a full day to visit the Forbidden City. Some people dismiss the Palace saying its only a series of large courtyards, one similar to the others.

2) Bring some food with you. The restaurant inside is not as great as advertised.

3) Don't visit the Forbidden City in a Monday as the Forbidden City closes in the afternoon and you don't have enough time to visit it.

4) Try to admire the large courtyards not just from the middle, but from the corners of the large squares as this would give you a very different prospective (as you see in the photos in this page).

5) Visit the Forbidden City as the first monument in Beijing and possibly in China. This will help you to acquire a better insight and prospective about the city and the entire country.

6) Hire an official guide. It is the best way to understand this marvel.

7) Visit also The Summer Palace in Beijing if you want to have a deeper understanding of the Imperial Chinese life (we will visit on this site too)






Are you interested in China or are you planning to travel to China?


Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.

Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.


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Thursday, January 23, 2014

What to know before to start to travel in China


Are you are planning to travel to China?

Here the ten essential things to know:

1. Trains are pretty always fully booked. Book your trains as soon as you arrive in China (at Beijing International Airport there is a little just at the arrivals).
 
2. Plan well an advance which places you want to see, avoid playing by hear your itinerary: it would not work
 
3. Make sure to have a guide book with the name of the places you want to visit written in Chinese alphabet.
 
4. Always book a place on a sleeping wagon if you are travelling for long distances
 
5. The Visa to access China is one of the most expensive in the world: 50 USD
 
6. International Youth Hostel are extremely reliable, consider this option
 
7. Bring with you a compass, it will help in the little streets of the big towns
 
8. Don't go to China just to see the China Wall, it is very impressive but there is much much more to see!
 
9. Arrive at train stations well in advance and always having booked your ticket an advance
 
10. Avoid buses for long distance travels: they are unsafe and unreliable


 


Are you interested in China or are you planning to travel to China?

Read my page My China Project where you can find the list of all of my posts and the destinations covered in this blog in China.

Read also the page Visit China and the page What to know before to travel to China.


 
Do you like this blog? 
 
 
Follow us:

LIKE OUR PAGE ON  FACEBOOK so that you can read our posts when we will update this page

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER  so that we can tweet you updates

BECOME OUR FRIEND ON GOOGLE+1, clicking on the G+1 button on the right column of this page


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR FREE NEWSLETTER: insert your email on the box on the right column on this page, so that you wil recieve the updates by email (note that when you subscribe you will recieve an email from "feedburner email subscription" asking you to confirm your subscription. Remember to confirm it and be aware that most of the time your email's filters will consider the confirmation email spam and so to find it and reply to it you have to look on your spam folder as well).







Wednesday, January 22, 2014

CHINA EXPLORATION #PROJECT IS STARTED! - YOU ARE GOING TO VISIT ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD!

A captain of the Terracotta Army - One of the most amazing thing to see in China!

How you imagine China?

A communist country where everyone lives a quiet life, ugly modern buildings in the Sixty Soviet
style, old cars and trains, lot of smog and many uniforms?


The Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai.
You are wrong. I mean China is a communist country, but it is not just poverty and the ugly architecture. China is growing fast, much faster that what you can even imagine and it has unique wonders to visit!

Fast, modern reliable trains speed at more than 300 kmph to connect the most distant cities of this huge country. Modern museums are quickly taking the place of the old boring ones! Western fashion is penetrating quickly in China and is wonderfully mixing with the local fashion making a great and unique style!

Trendy restaurants and beautiful elegant parks offer a great place to relax and escape the smog (yes the smog is even worse that what you imagine!). Tube transport is fast reliable and efficient.

But most of all China possesses a hidden cultural and natural heritage unknown in the West, but incredibly fascinating!


Beijing- The Old Quarter
We will start from Beijing and from there we would explore the most famous places in China. 

The amazing medieval town of Pingyao, Xi'an with its walls and the Unesco Heritage Site of the Terracotta Army the modern city of Shanghai, Hangzou, Suzhou and the Taoist Retreat of Hua Shan, and many more places.

We will stop at Nanjing to discover the remains of the old Imperial capital, we will walk on the mountains, eat at the market stalls and cycle the old streets of Beijing.


We made a top ten of the best to visit in China ready for you.

Follow our itinerary below and be inspired!



The Palace, popularly known as the Forbidden City is certainly the most wonderful building in Beijing. 

The dark pink walls, the orange pagoda roofs , the emerald green decorations and the white stone sculptures are a wonderful mix producing an effect of majesty... 
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

#2 Then we explore The Summer Palace in Beijing- CLICK TO READ 

The Summer Palace represents a great example of Chinese classical architecture, heavily influenced by the architecture of the now destroyed Nanjing Palace of the Emperor.. 
CLICK TO READ MORE 




#3 Mao Zedong Masoleum in Tienanmen Square


Thousand of Chinese, most of them in their fifties or older, modestly dressed, come everyday from the far countryside to venerate the man that is still their hero and their god today... 
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE



#4 Tiananmen Square in Beijing

If the Forbidden City in Beijing represents the past of the Chinese Capital, the adjacent Tiananmen Square undoubtedly represents the present, or maybe it should be said the contemporary... 
Click here to read more












#5  A WONDERFUL 
MEDIEVAL CASTLE IN THE HEART OF CHINA - WANG CASTLE CLICK TO READ 


Visiting castles in China is not one of the most common ways to visit this wonderful country, but I have the feeling it will become a much more popular interest in the following years... Click here to read more


#6 THE PARKS AT THE HEART OF BEIJING: ZHONGSHAN AND JINGSHAN PARK

Two of the most beautiful parks in Beijing are just in the heart of  the town at walking distance from the famous Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square:  Zhongshan Park and Jingshan Park...
Click here to read more





The town of Pingyao is wonderful because it fulfills the dreams of the western traveller in search of a typical Chinese city...
Click here to read more

#8 PINGYAO 
A MEDIEVAL TOWN IN THE HEART OF CHINA#2 

I wonder if the locals are happy to live in Pingyao or they feel they stuck here in an eventful city that after its impressive Walls doesn't seems to offer much else to do apart walking around the old town... 
Click HERE to READ MORE

#9 THE MASTERPIECE OF FENGSHUI - A MASTERPIECE OF THE TAOIST CHINESE ART OF FENG SHUI: THE HOUSE AND THE GARDEN OF THE MASTER OF THE NETS IN SUZHOU - CLICK TO READ 

Suzhou is a beautiful town situated around two hours away from Shanghai and it is particularly famous for its canal, so to be called "The Venice of Asia"... Click here to continue



#10 THE PEOPLE'S PALACE - THE PALACE OF THE POWER IN TIANANMEN SQUARE


The People's Palace is one of the most impressive buildings in China and a great example of the art deco in Chinese style.
Here is where Chairman Mao and the other political and most influential leaders of the country met to lead the country; they are still occasionally meet today... 
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE



#11 HUA SHAN: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN - AMAZING CHINA

When you start your climb you can see the mountains peaks so high above you that you almost feel that it is impossible to conceive the idea that you would ever get all the way up there (and never mind for the end of the same day!)... 
Click here to read more


#12 THE WONDERFUL TERRACOTTA ARMY IN XIAN - UNESCO HERITAGE CLICK TO READ  



#13 WHAT TO SEE IN XIAN - ONE OF THE LIVELIEST CITIES IN CHINA

There is much more to see in Xian than just spend the night on the way to the Chinese Terracotta Army Museum... Click here to continue


#14 THE VENICE OF THE EAST

Suzhou has in common with Venice the canals and, for the Chinese opinion, a romantic charm, although the second  feature appears much less evident than the first one... Click here to read more

#15 THE NATIONAL EXAMINATION MUSEUM IN NANJING


The Imperial National Examination Museum in Nanjing old town is very small but it certainly gives you a lot to reflect on how certain issues or kind of eternal.

How to examine candidates and assess they are... click here to read more





#16 NANJING - THE MAGNIFICIENT IMPERIAL TOMBS OF THE KINGS OF THE WORLD


The Imperial Ming Tombs are maybe  the most amazing feature of Nanjing. They are called also Ming Xiaolin and it is with this name that they are signalled in the few road signs in English.

The Imperial avenues leave you amazed as you really feel you are entering... click here to read the full post


#17 THE CHINESE HOLOCAUST: WAR MEMORIAL OF THE RAPE OF NANJING


The Hall of Fame of Nanjing Massacre would be better called "Memorial of the Victims of Nanjing Massacre" or, as the terrible invasion of the Japanese in China is usually (and certainly very appropriately) called:  "Memorial of the Victims of the Rape of Nanjing".

The Hall of Fame of Nanjing Massacre... Click here to read the full post

#18 IN SKY THERE IS HEAVEN AND ON EARTH SUZHOU AND HANGZHOU
The trite Chinese saying is: "In sky there is Heaven, on earth Hangzhou and Suzhou", also translated "Heaven above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below.".

I believe the saying is much more accurate for Hangzhou than for Suzhou (if you want to read about Suzhou click here).

Hangzhou is reasonably much more unspoiled city, than Suzhou or at least so Hangzhou looks when you just visit the centre CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL POST



#19 Is Shanghai a romantic city? An itinerary
already made to visit Shanghai. 

Some cities in the world are huge, famous but soulless.

Shanghai has this bad name too, but I believe the second City in China doesn't deserve this adjective.


At the opposite I think Shanghai is an extremely charming. Click here to continue reading. 

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

edwhatamidoinghere 2014 Calendar on sell on Lulu.com

(CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL PREVIEW)
This Calendar is dedicated to you!

Many of you kindly wrote me e-mails during the last year telling me you like my photos in the blog.

One of you wrote me two times insisting that I should make a Calendar.

I didn't even know how to make a Calendar.

Thanks to this reader I learnt how to make a calendar (I have to say it is quite easy...)


Here you can also have a better look at the calendar before to order and here you can read the official page of the edwhatamidoinghere 2014 calendar on lulu.com.


I hope you like it, the photos are all mine. I did my best.

Feedback are welcomed: edwhatamidoinghere@gmail.com



Here the list of the 12 photos on the Calendar (you can see how the calendar look and the photos on lulu.com -  clicking here):

January - Italy, Cinqueterre - Panorama of Manarola

February - Argentina, San Mignacio de Mini - The gate

March - Scotland, Edinburgh - The Castle

April - China, Beijing - The Forbidden City

May - Hungary, Budapest - The Fishermen Tower

June - Brasil, Rio de Janeiro - Ipanema Beach

July - Cambodia, Angkor - Temples

August - Italy, Florence - Palazzo della Signoria

September - England, Bath - The Circus

October - U.S.A., New York - Times Square


November - France, Auray - Port de Saint Goustan

December - England, Salisbury - Salisbury Cathedral 





Saturday, January 18, 2014

Exeter Cathedral - The Catheral of the one thousand faces

One aspect of Exeter Cathedral is particularly amazing: thousands of faces are looking to you from the ceiling and from the vaults, in the chapels and from arches, everywhere faces are looking at you.

Exeter is one of the most famous Cathedrals in Europe.

After having visited Salisbury the Cathedral of Light, we continue our travel in England visiting the Cathedral of the thousands faces.

Why Exeter Cathedral is the Cathedral of the one thousand faces?

Exeter Cathedral is one of the most beautiful Cathedral in the world and its beauty is evident in many different aspects.

The wonderful architecture perfectly express the Norman English style.

It is amazing because it is extremely rare to be able to visit a church that had only marginal changes during the centuries and it still express today the Norman English Style of the XIII Century.

But one aspect is particularly amazing: thousands of faces are looking to you from the ceiling and from the vaults, in the chapels and from arches, everywhere faces are looking at you.


               Some of the faces in Exeter  are green men (or green women).

Faces in the bosses (and what are the bosses?):

Enter in Exeter Cathedral and turn your eyes towards to the ceilings.

The round stones at the center of the vaults are called bosses. More then 400 bosses decorate the vaults of the Cathedral, each one different from the others, and most of them representing human faces.

What are the faces in the bosses?

Some of the faces are representation of people of the time, but most them are green men (or green women).

What is a green man?

The Green Man is a sculpture (or a drawing, or other representation) of a face surrounded by or made from leaves.

The Green Man is a sculpture (or a drawing, or other representation) of
a face surrounded by or made from leaves.
Branches or vines sprout from the nose, mouth, nostrils or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit. Commonly used as a decorative architectural ornament, Green Men are frequently found in carvings on both secular and ecclesiastical buildings.

But Exter Cathedral have more rare faces to be seen. And much more scary too...

Many memento mori are sculptured all around the church.

Some of them are more scaring than others!


What is a memento mori?

An example of  Memento Mori in n Exeter Cathedral
In Exeter Cathedral, Memento Mori are sculptured representing the death, most of them represent human bodies of people dieing or already dead.

These statues were built to remember to everyone that the death is unavoidable and would come for everyone.

The representations are quite scary, mainly the idea is to scary the people remembering that one day they, have to die, and not look forward to it...

Memento mori is Latin and literally means: remember: you have to die!



Is it that all?

Take a look just above the pillars in the nave.
Not at all look again on the ceiling when you enter in the church and you will see a decapitation taking place. It is the decapitation of Samuel Beckett.

And finally take a look just above the pillars in the nave: elaborate carvings known as corbels contain more weird faces watching you.

Exeter Cathedral is certainly one of the most amazing cathedrals in the world, but I bet you would not find another Cathedral with more faces in it!


This post has been made thanks to the great hospitality and support of Becky from Exeter!



Do you want to visit another majestic Cathedral in England?

Read about Salisbury Cathedral: The Cathedral of light




Do you want to read more about England?

Browse on my page Visit England for many more destinations



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