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It all started here...

It all started here...

Monday, January 15, 2018

First Time Chengde

Ctourus -- Tour of Tianjin, Chengde, and Beijing, China
Day 3 - Chengde, November 16, 2017

After breakfast at the hotel we went down to the lobby to check out of the hotel. These pictures hung on the wall caught my attention. These are prints of traditional drawing with words to raise awareness of the different virtues deemed valuable to the Chinese culture.

The beautiful virtue of filial.

Kindness

Frugal

To honor all elders as we do our own aging parents.

Care for all children as they are our own.


Travel all over the world and leave only footprints behind.

Leaving our hotel for the night. The name of this hotel is quite Chinese, Fu Man Jia means "A household filled with blessings."

Another sunny day.



Looked like a dried up river bed with a covered bridge.

A sculpture in the middle of the dried up river.

Some taller buildings in the city.

Chengde Kuixing Pavilion (魁星樓)
Kuixing Pavilion is a major Taoist Temple in northern China. It is situated right on top of Banbishan. We were told that the main figure to worship here is Kuixing, the god of examinations and promotions. Those who want to pass their exams with flying colors would come and pay their respects and pray for success. On the day that we were here, we were the only ones visiting and none of us needed to take any exams in the near future. I suppose we were the rare ones who came through this place with no pressure and just enjoyed a tour guided by the Taoist monk on site.

We were warned ahead of time that we won't be able to use the toilets up here because of plumbing problems during the cold winter days. Other than that everything else worked out fine for us as we had an interesting tour of this temple early that morning.

Arriving the main gate of the temple.

Ticketed entrance.

View of the city from high up.


The temple at the very top of the mountain.

Coming back down from the temple.

Incense burner



One of the smaller temples.


The last character "Kui" purposely missing a dot. It's believed that by placing your hand on the spot where the dot is missing will bring good luck on exams. Silly picture!

Yep, another believe is that by passing through this gate of dragon will also bring you good luck and success.

Gate of Dragon

Saying goodbye to the nice Taoist monk who took us on this private tour.


Ancient wall around the temple ground.



Rocks carved with words of good wishes.

exiting the main gate

Ending our tour on our first stop.


Imperial Summer Palace Mountain Resort
This was the reason we were here in Chengde. We have heard about this place for years and have wanted to come and see it for ourselves. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest imperial garden in China. When the emperor was vacationing here, it also acted as the summer capital during the Qing Dynasty. Several popular TV series about the Imperial court were filmed on location here also. This should be an interesting visit! Needless to say it was quite different from what we expected because we came here in the winter instead of summer. I imagine it would be a lot prettier in the summer since this was what it was built for. But then we avoided the crowds that would flock here in the summer.

Stopped right outside the Mountain Resort.

Main entrance to the Imperial Summer Palace.



"Imperial Summer Palace Mountain Resort"

The Palace Area
I was surprised to find that the buildings were not as lavish as I imagined. Quite 'simple' as far as for the royal family goes.

The throne

Everything was locked up so we had to peek through the glass panels for a look inside.



living quarters



Emperor Kangxi

Family chart of the emperors

Emperor Qian Long



OK, I have seen this building, on the TV series "My Fair Princess" (還珠格格)

Apparently there is no staircases inside the building and this was what they used to go upstairs, from the outside.

We came out of the Palace Area into the Gardens Area.
From here we hired the electrical tram to take us around to save us some energy while we explore this huge palace. It will take a very long time for these old bones to walk to all the sights here, plus it was very cold! Even our tour guide was complaining how cold it was for her and she was all covered from head to toe. Some of us did not bring enough warm clothes since we did not expect to be in northern China in the first place. But, we all made it through happily.

Lake Ruyi (Good Luck Lake如意湖)

I believe this is another lake, but I honestly do not know its name. It was partially frozen.

Withered lotus plants

Another famous building "Haze and Rain Pavilion". This was also in that same TV series.




Hammer Rock in the distance.

Shimadai, the hunting ground for the emperor.

Imitation of the Mongolian tents. These are hotel rooms in the summer.

Liu He Pagoda

Another beautiful lake.



Peony Garden

Protecting the stumps of the Peony plants.

With that, our tour of the Imperial Summer Palace Mountain Resort ended. We exited from the north end which was the East Gate to wait for our bus. 

While we were waiting I noticed these bright red berries on a tree. I thought they were very pretty.

Then we were taken to a restaurant for lunch. Lunch was quite interesting with several dishes featuring wild games of the area. Pheasant meat, venison, etc. Quite delicious!



One noticeable difference is 'man-tou' buns 饅頭 were being served in addition to the rice, a main staple in northern China.

After lunch, we were on our way to Beijing and stopped just for a photo op when we went past 
the Putouzongcheng temple. A small replica of Tibet's Lhasa Potala Palace. It does look like Potala Palace but I was glad that we were not going in because of the climb.

Beijing
After a drive of about three hours, we arrived the outer skirt of Beijing. First thing first, Peking duck!
Our first meal in Beijing was an authentic Peking duck dinner at Da Ya Li Roast Duck Restaurant. What a meal we had! 

The restaurant!

And the duck!

Table-side carving...

off the crispy skin.


Wonderful dinner with all the delicious dishes.

Yum!

flour wrapping 

Chunghuiyuan Hot Spring Holiday Resort (春暉園温泉渡假酒店)
We finally arrived at our hotel in Beijing after dinner. We would stay here for three nights and what a wonderful hotel that is. Other than the fact that it's quite far away from the city center, this hotel is a destination of its own. Seemed that many families spend their weekends and holidays here for the hot springs in this huge resort. Each room comes with a big tub that guests can enjoy their relaxing hot spring soaks in private. We are not hot spring type, and we only tried it on our first night and that was plenty enough for us, I have to say. For one thing, the hot spring was mighty HOT! And there is no way to change the temperature of the water. For us with blood pressure problem we dare not soaking too long or too much in that hot, hot water.

Tub in the room.

Quite spacious.

Inside the room.





Good accommodation.

Little duck connected to the stopper.