Beijing Journals

A Week in the 'Northern Capital'

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An August 2007 trip to Beijing by phileasfogg

Beijing Big Bell Museum Photo, Beijing, China More Photos
Quote: Picture-perfect palaces and gleaming skyscrapers. Glitzy malls and stiffly Communist Tiananmen Square. Old and new, East and West: Beijing’s a mind-boggling study in contrasts.

A Week in the 'Northern Capital'

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Overview

In the Forbidden City Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
With nearly 3,000 years of history (evidence has been found of settlements here dating back to the 1st millennium BC), Beijing is one of the grand old capitals of the world. And since much of that history has been exceptionally rich and colourful, Beijing is replete with gorgeously picturesque palaces, temples, pavilions, and gates. Some of them – like the 8,000-odd rooms in the Forbidden City (the erstwhile Imperial Palace) – are a must-see on any tourist’s itinerary. The same is true of the Summer Palace, the pretty but now alas rather sadly commercialised palaces along the banks of the serene Kunming Lake. However touristy and crowded they may be, the Forbidden City and the Summer Pal...Read More

Days Hotel and Suites Beijing

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Hotel | "Days Hotel and Suites"

Days Hotel and Suites Beijing Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
We checked into Days Hotel and Suites after a tiring flight and were taken up to our 7th floor room within five minutes. Our twin room was decorated in cream and beige and came equipped with wardrobe and in-room safe, dressing table, chairs, two cosy sofa chairs, bedside tables, and warm golden lighting. The bathroom, unfortunately, looked slightly jaded – the polish had worn off part of the woodwork and there were rust stains on the outside of the bathtub. Otherwise, it was clean and had a hair dryer, shaving mirror, and a basketful of amenities: shampoo, soaps, body lotion, bath gel, et al. In addition, our room...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 5, 2007

Days Hotel and Suites Beijing
27 Hua Wei Li
Beijing, China 100021
+86 (10) 67731234

Beijing Big Bell Museum

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Attraction | "Dazhong Si"

Beijing Big Bell Museum Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
One of the first things we discovered on entering Dazhong Si ('Big Bell Temple’) was that in ancient China, a bell was not just meant to announce a visitor, the hour, or an alarm. Bells were used for just about every ceremonial and social ritual. From praying for rain to creating soothing music, Chinese bells tolled and chimed their way through all manner of purposes. And Dazhong Si is a fitting tribute to them. Dazhong Si was built in 1733 and acquired its first bell ten years later, when Emperor Qianlong had a giant bell brought here from another temple, Wanshousi. Today, Dazhong Si devotes itself to bells, from thumbnail-sized midgets to leviathans that fill a building. Dazhong Si is a ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 5, 2007

Beijing Big Bell Museum
A31, North Third Ring Road
Beijing, China
+86 (0)10 6255 0843

Gulou (The Drum Tower)

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Attraction

Gulou (The Drum Tower) Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
Like its twin the Bell Tower (which stands opposite the Drum Tower, separated from it by a paved square), the Drum Tower – Gulou – is a squat, solid structure made of grey stone and brick, with a roof of glazed tiles and paint. The Drum Tower is pretty historic. It was built in 1272 AD at the orders of Kublai Khan, and underwent repairs and renovations thrice (most importantly in 1420) during the reigns of the Qing and Ming dynasties. Like the Bell Tower, too, the Drum Tower’s primary function was of telling time. The passage of time, marked by a clepsydra or water clock, was announced for all of medieval Peking by striking the 25 drums that stand within the Drum Tower. Today, Beijing’s citizens ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 5, 2007

Gulou (The Drum Tower)

Beijing, China

Yonghegong

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Attraction

Yonghegong Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
Yonghegong is Beijing’s largest Buddhist temple, but was pleasantly uncrowded when we visited. These colourful buildings were originally the residence of Prince Yin Zheng. When he became the Emperor Yong Zheng in 1723, his old palace was renovated, its roofs glazed with imperial yellow tiles. 23 years later, it was converted into a lamasery for Buddhist monks from Tibet and Inner Mongolia. Today, the Yonghegong Lama Temple is a bright, vivid temple, all prayer wheels, clouds of incense, and colourful gilded statues. Having paid the entry fee (25 RMB per person), we stopped at the first gate of Yonghegong. In front of this gate are the statues you see outside so many buildings in Beijing: a lion p...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 5, 2007

Yonghegong
Yonghegong Dajie
Beijing, China

Great Bell Temple

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Attraction | "Zhonglou (The Bell Tower)"

Great Bell Temple Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
Chinese bells have fascinated me ever since I read Robert van Gulik’s historical detective novel The Chinese Bell Murders. In one scene, the detective, Judge Dee, discovers a corpse under a bell, and when his assistants lever up the side of the bell, a bunch of them (four, if I remember correctly) crawl in under the bell. Four grown men under one bell? Chinese bells, I decided, must be quite something. The fact that we’d already visited Dazhong Si and admired its collection of bells, including the massive Yongle Big Bell, spurred us on to check out Zhonglou, the Bell Tower of Beijing. The bell here, as we’d already learnt during our trip to Dazhong Si, weighs all of 63 tonnes, and b...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 5, 2007

Great Bell Temple
31A North Third Ring Road West Road
Beijing, China
+86 (0)10 6255 0843

Tiantan -- The Temple of Heaven

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Story/Tip

Tiantan - Annexe to the Hall of Prayer Photo, Beijing, China
Quote:
Tiantan was the first sight we visited in Beijing, and we couldn’t have hoped for a better introduction to the city. With its cool green environs (the temple spreads out across a large park) and its finely painted and lacquered buildings, you’d expect Tiantan to be besieged by tourists. Thankfully, it isn’t – or at least it wasn’t the day we visited. The fact that it was a very hot and sultry day may have had something to do with it, but I’m not complaining. Work on the Temple of Heaven began during the reign of the emperor Yongle; it was finally completed in 1420. The centerpiece of the temple complex is one of Beijing’s most enduring images: the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. The h...Read More