Saturday, September 26, 2009





The day that we spent at the Puningsi Temple in Chengde was probably the longest and most exhausting for Lynne since we arrived in China - if you don't count the 34 hour day that included our flight and crossing the International Date Line.
All told, she probably walked a total of four miles or more today, including some extremely steep steps and staircases at the temple. That - combined with an afternoon of walking the streets in Chengde and shopping with Bu - just about wore her out.
The experience at the temple was very educational and while there we purchased a hand-painted glass bottle from an artisan for Lynne. This is a really cool bottle. It is clear glass with a cork stopper that has a family of Pandas painted on the INSIDE of the glass. The artist also added Lynne's name to the inside (writing backwards) so that it comes through correctly when you look at it.
As you look at the pictures of the temple, you will notice a couple of photos that feature 'prayer locks'. These are brass locks that patrons and visitors to the temple buy. Their names are then engraved upon the locks and the locks are attached to the handrailings, etc. These locks serve as a vicarious prayer of sorts on behalf of the buyers when they aren't at the temple. In other words, their prayers are offered by others for them and they also receive the personal prayers offered by all others at the temple.
When we left the temple, we went to McDonald's for a quick lunch, to catch our breath and to meet up with Bu. She then took us to the equivalent of a Chinese Dollar Store. Freakin' awesome. After that, I basically followed Lynne and Bu around the city and carried their shopping bags.
Lynne was a trooper today. Proud of her.


A definite highlight of any trip to Beijing is a visit to the Forbidden City. It is located in the center of Beijing and was built during a 14 year period from 1406 - 1420. It was the Imperial Palce of the Emperor of the beginning of the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty.
For over 500 years, it served as the home of the Emperor and his household, as well as the political and ceremonial center of Chinese government.
It now houses the official Palace Museum and consists of 980 buildings featuring 8,707 bays of rooms. In fact, since 1925, the Forbidden City - so named because all except the Emperors' families, concubines, eunuchs, armies and dignitaries were denied access - has been under the direction and charge of the Palace Museum. Forbidden also referred to the fact that absolutely no one could enter or leave the palace without the Emperor's decree or writ.
The Forbidden City is filled with breath-taking pieces of art, stonework and cultural treasures that typify and exemplify Chinese history. The ornate detail of the furniture, the buildings, the statues and even the painted ceilings bear testament to the high level of craftsmanship Chinese artisans embodied.
For Lynne, this was an especially wonderful tour. Her favorite part of the entire Forbidden City experience was the Imperial Garden and the beautifully manicured plants, gardens and fountains that are there.


We started our tour of the Forbidden City at the South Gate and left through the North Gate under the portrait of Chairman Mao. While we were there, the government was scurrying around erecting bleachers, stages and podiums in preparation for the 60th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution.
On October 1, 1949, Mao Tse Tung established and instituted the Peoples' Republic of China. On October 1 of this year there will be a nation-wide celebration lasting for several days (in part because it coincides with the Autumn Festival) to mark the event.
Regardless of your school of political thought or philosophy, it is nearly universally accepted that the, 'Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution', was a period of widespread social, cultural and political upheaval in the PRC - especially between 1966 and 1976. The result was nationwide chaos and economic disarray.
But, I digress. . . as I stated earlier, when we left the Forbidden City, a virtual army of volunteers was going about the business of erecting stages while another equally determined group was eagerly plowing and planting tons of flowers and shrubs around the entire perimeter. It was an impressive sight.
You will notice in the following slide presentation that there are several photos of the moat which surrounds the Forbidden City. I have also included a few photos of Tiananmen Square which is situated directly across the thoroughfare from the North Entrance to the Forbidden City. Also located on Tiananmen Square are Chairman Mao's Mausoleum, the National History Museum, the Monument to the People's Heroes as well as the Great Hall of the People (National People's Congress).