Although this is my last month in Hong Kong, I am going out with a bang and not a whimper!! Classes ended on April 29th, but my final exam isn’t until May 13th. So I decided to use some of the time between those dates to take one last trip outside Hong Kong and I chose to visit Beijing, China.
Beijing is the cultural center of China and so there was a lot to see and do there. I signed up with Tour Beijing to take two one day tours. On one day I visited the Ming Tombs, a complex of tombs set up by the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Di, and I visited the Great Wall of China at Badaling. The most impressive aspect of the wall was not its height or its width, but rather its length. It went on and on as far as the eye could see.
At the entrance to this section of the wall, we could hike up the wall which straddled a ridge on a mountain. The hike was strenuous, but the view was spectacular. At one point, I suddenly realized why the wall was built in such a remote, inaccessible area. By building the wall along the ridge of a string of mountains, the wall would not have to be very high because the ridge itself provided height and a view to repel enemies trying to scale the ridge.
On another day, I was able to visit the Forbidden City, so named because commoners were not allowed into the city, and the empress, concubines, and eunuchs were not allowed to leave the city. It was an amazingly large and beautiful complex. In addition, I saw the Temple of Heaven
where the emperor came three times a year to offer sacrifices to the Gods, and I saw the Summer Palace, which was built by the last empress of China as a summer escape from the Forbidden City. The last empress had an inordinate amount of power for a woman at that time because her husband, the emperor, died young, and the son was too young to make decisions for the country.
On a final day, I walked around Tiananmen Square and visited two different museums that gave a modern history of China from the Chinese perspective, which unfortunately amounted to propaganda instead of a thoughtful and balanced account of
their modern history. At the end of the day, I was fortunate enough to attend a Chinese acrobatic show at the The Heaven and Earth Theatre. It was spectacular and fun and marked a nice cap for my visit to Beijing.