It’s Day 1 here exploring in Beijing and it was not short of incredible. It was a jam packed day full of adventure, laughter and a lot of memories made.
Our first stop of the day was The Sacred Way (which means the road travelled to heaven) of the Ming Tombs, Our tour guide Frank was not short of information as he explained the meaning and significance of all the many things we would see upon arrival. The pathway starts with a huge stone memorial archway lying at the front of the area. It was constructed in 1540, during the Ming Dynasty, this archway is the earliest and biggest stone archway existing in China.
The pathway is lined with stone statues which are important decorations of the mausoleum. These statues are usually 12 human figures (including the general, civil officials and meritorious officials) and 24 animals which are lion, camel, elephant, xiezhi (a mythological unicorn), qilin (one of the four "divine animals, the other three are dragon, phoenix and tortoise), and horse. There are 4 of each of these animals: two standing and two squatting with different meanings.
We learned that the Lion symbolizes awesome solemnity because of their ferocity. The Camel’s and elephant’s are meant to suggest the vastness of the territory controlled by the court, because they are dependable transport in desert and tropics. Xiezhi was put there to keep evil spirits away, because it was believed to possess the sixth sense to tell right and wrong. Horse, as the emperor's mount, is absolutely indispensable. It is said that these animals is supposed to change guard at midnight.
Following the Jade Factory we went to a Chinese Tea Factory in which they brew the most delicious loose leaf tea’s. Followed by dinner and an acrobatic show.
After exploring The Sacred Way we arrived at The Jade Factory. This factory was actually home to making the 2008 Olympic Medals using white jades. We learned about the different textures and colors of Jade and how each figure has it’s own meaning such as the Psu statue made from Jade will actually bring more money into the household. The male statue represents bringing the money and the female represents keeping the money.
After The Jade Factory we stopped for lunch before heading onto The Great Wall of China which was a dream. I can honestly say I never thought I would have ever made it to one of the seven wonders of the world. We hiked up to the top which was so beautiful (and also very windy).
It feels as if we have been here for a week instead of a day and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the week will bring.
xxx - an apple a day