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Old August 29th, 2011, 01:24 PM   #1
SkyscraperSuperman
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Beijing/Shanghai 2011

I spent a month in China recently (well, 3 weeks in China, 1 in Mongolia...) mainly staying in Beijing, but I also took the time to visit the city of Shanghai (as well as a few more places, but they aren't really urban-themed. )
I'll be showing my journey in chronological order, starting in Beijing, and then moving to Shanghai afterwards.

So the journey starts in the centre of Beijing (unfortunately, on a rather smoggy day), at the Yonghegong Lama Temple...


Looking down towards the temple from one of the narrow hutongs that still remain in the centre of the city.


This would've been a much nicer shot had the sky been clearer...


Lion statues like this exist in many places throughout China. Referred to as 'Guardian Lions' there are traditionally pairs of these statues, as a manifestation of yin and yang. The male lion sits with his paw upon a ball, symbolising the world. The other statue depicts a female lion with a cub under the other paw, symbolising the cycle of life. Looking at the entrance of a building from the outside, the female lion (yin) is always situated on the left, and the male (yang) is on the right.




Incense burning is a common religious activity in China. It is done as an offering, for meditation purposes and as a form of aromatherapy, among other things. In places such as the Lama Temple, three Incense sticks are burned simultaneously.






Buildings within the Lama Temple grounds.


Many statues occupy the buildings, generally small 'display' statues behind glass, with a few exceptions...


The climax of the Lama Temple visit. (Apologies for the quality of the shot, I had to do it surreptitiously and without flash, since they don't actually like you taking photos of this thing. ) 18 metres high, this awesome statue holds a Guinness World Record - it's the largest Buddha statue carved from a single tree. One large piece of sandalwood - that's the only ingredient in this statue!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

More photos to follow as I share my adventures in this amazing country with you guys here on SSC.
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Old August 30th, 2011, 01:59 AM   #2
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The second part, taking a stroll around the stretch of road between the 2nd Ring Road at Dongsishitiao and the 3rd Ring Road to the east of the Sanlitun area.




Rising above the street stand the curvaceous, glass-clad towers of the Sanlitun branch of SOHO China Ltd., the largest real-estate developer in Beijing.


Looking east from a bridge at Sanlitun, down towards the 3rd Ring Road.


Differently-shaped groundscrapers sit happily alongside their taller brethren.


The edge of a top-heavy groundscraper in the Sanlitun 'Village' area.


Just your average cargo transportation at a Beijing crossroads.


This rather impressive-looking highrise with a huge concrete frame, glass facade and balcony-style floors overlooking the huge triangular atrium, makes its presence known next to Dongsishitiao subway station.


And something I didn't quite expect to see in a Beijing side-street - a London Black Cab!
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Old August 30th, 2011, 07:51 AM   #3
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Nice photos!
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Old September 1st, 2011, 02:52 PM   #4
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thanks, black cabs are actually made in China methinks.

Beijing really has awful weather, great place to put a capital strategically, terrible climate-wise.

Its not just the smog from 4 million cars, but in winter its icy, windy and dry, as low as -30, yet with little snow. In Spring its the annual dust storms from the nearby Gobi desert (worst smog imaginable) coupled with the 'Spring Snow' as millions of catkin trees shed their pollen that collects into drifts, terrible for hayfever sufferers. In summer its very hot (40C) and humid, along with 75% of all rainfall between June-August, a perpetual mist settles over the city. Night and day temperatures vary considerably. Finally Autumn, the one month that's liveable: clear skies, sunshine, low humidity and agreeable temperatures.
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Old September 1st, 2011, 03:53 PM   #5
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Next part will be up later today - was a problem with my photo host, but that's now been sorted.

Quote:
Originally Posted by the spliff fairy View Post
thanks, black cabs are actually made in China methinks.
Hmm, I didn't know that. Ah well, it was still nice to see one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by the spliff fairy View Post
Beijing really has awful weather, great place to put a capital strategically, terrible climate-wise.

Its not just the smog from 4 million cars, but in winter its icy, windy and dry, as low as -30, yet with little snow. In Spring its the annual dust storms from the nearby Gobi desert (worst smog imaginable) coupled with the 'Spring Snow' as millions of catkin trees shed their pollen that collects into drifts, terrible for hayfever sufferers. In summer its very hot (40C) and humid, along with 75% of all rainfall between June-August, a perpetual mist settles over the city. Night and day temperatures vary considerably. Finally Autumn, the one month that's liveable: clear skies, sunshine, low humidity and agreeable temperatures.
Yeah, pretty much. The first few days I was there (end of July) there was heavy smog and 100% humidity - it was horrible. That being said, in August the humidity went down considerably and the skies cleared, so I actually did enjoy some good summer weather before I left. I went out last Christmas as well and it was bitterly cold, so we escaped down to the south for a few days! Hoping to go out for late summer/early autumn next year to see the change in climate.
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Old September 2nd, 2011, 09:49 AM   #6
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great photos! love these trip photo report type posts!
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Old September 2nd, 2011, 11:57 AM   #7
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Thank you! Sorry for the delay, here's the next part now.

This time, we're off to Beihai Park, northwest of the Forbidden City.






Unfortunately, the smog is still present, but it's still easy to enjoy the beauty of such an area, in the middle of Beijing.


Traditional Chinese lanterns hang from the roofs of many buildings around Beijing and beyond, a lasting symbol of Old China.


Another pair of Guardian Lions, showing both lions this time, showing the female with the cub on the left, and the male with the globe on the right.


Plenty of greenery grows alongside the waterside pavilions.




Peddle-boating is a popular activity on the lake, although it does cost money to hire one. I've not yet tried it for fear of getting ripped off.


A feature of the next set of photos, the Beijing Drum Tower.


And another feature of the next batch, the Bell Tower. More on that and the Drum Tower later on.


Narrow streets are still present in central Beijing, alongside the wide, skyscraper-filled streets of modern Beijing.
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Old September 4th, 2011, 05:28 PM   #8
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Next part...

The Drum and Bell Towers, located on the central axis of Beijing, directly north of the Forbidden City.


The Drum Tower from the road.


Looking up at the Drum Tower's roof.








We arrived just in time for a traditional Beijing drum performance, which they perform every single day for the crowds that visit the Drum Tower.


Looking across the courtyard to the Bell Tower.


The big bell - unfortunately there's no bell display, just a big dusty hunk of metal to look at.


...Oh, and a decent view - this one is of the Drum Tower, looking south.


Looking down to the west to a Beijing hutong.


The western Beijing skyline, in the smog that has stuck around for a while...
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Old September 6th, 2011, 03:29 PM   #9
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Moving onto Beijing's CBD to have a look around.


The twin towers at Yonganli, on the southwestern edge of the CBD next to the Beijing Silk Market. The road between the camera and the towers (which you can't actually see, but...anyway) is the main east-west highway, the same road that passes between Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.


Beijing is still seeing a lot of construction, like at this huge building site on Guanghua Lu, on the western edge of the CBD where it meets the southern Embassy district. I don't know what's being here, but judging by the size of the site and the number of cranes, it's going to big!




Beijing likes its quirky architecture as much as any other major city! This building is also on Guanghua Lu, opposite the construction site in the last pic. It really does need a clean, though...


The 330m China World Tower from street level. It's currently the tallest building in Beijing and the second tallest structure, after the 405m CCTV Broadcasting Tower.






The streets of the CBD are lined with large mid- and high-rise buildings.


The overhang of the insanely-designed yet awe-inspiring CCTV Headquarters, rising up to 234m above the 3rd ring road below.


And its neighbour, the 159m TVCC Building, which went up in flames in February 2009 when it was hit by fireworks from an unauthorised firework display on the last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations. It is currently being rebuilt.




Roads at the northwestern edge of the CBD.
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Old September 10th, 2011, 01:35 PM   #10
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Sorry for the delay, will get the next part up soon.
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Old September 11th, 2011, 03:35 AM   #11
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It's a great pleasure to read the comments of each photo. Gives a better sense of the city. It's also great to see the burned part of CCTV complex being rebuilt. I'll be eagerly waiting for more photos.
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Old September 11th, 2011, 11:36 AM   #12
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Great and very nice photos from those cities; well done
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Old September 11th, 2011, 02:48 PM   #13
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Thanks guys. Here's the next part.

Now we're off to Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world, right in the middle of Beijing!


In the height of summer, Tiananmen Square (of which only a portion is shown) is packed with people, locals and tourists alike. Locals offer souvenir photos to tourists, and parasols are rather common.


The Great Hall of the People, on the western edge of the square, is the parliament building for the People's Republic of China. Inside is a large auditorium used for ceremonial events, both by the PRC and the Communist Party of China.


Looking past the crowds of people towards the gateway to the Forbidden City on the other side of the main east-west highway running through Beijing.


A much more recent addition to Tiananmen Square, this celebrates the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. A rather happy local points this out to others in the Square.


Other features of Tiananmen Square - a stone pillar standing in front of Chairman Mao's Mausoleum, and a large screen depicting Chinese dancers, as a bit of a cultural crowd-pleaser!


Looking across to the Forbidden City on the other side of the road, with the Chinese flag flying high and proud above the heads of the people.


The entrance to the Forbidden City, and a paramilitary policeman standing guard at the edge of Tiananmen Square.


Climbing over the white railings is forbidden - pedestrian underpasses are very often packed with people as a result, especially in the major tourist areas such as this.


Crowds of people crossing the bridge and passing under the large portrait of Chairman Mao, heading into the Forbidden City. Two male Guardian Lions are also visible in the shot, with the females flanking the other side of the entrance, far to the left of the image.

Next time, we're heading into the Forbidden City itself! The journey will probably cover two or three parts...it's a big place.
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Old September 15th, 2011, 03:12 PM   #14
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Into the Forbidden City we go!


Bridges leading over a channel of water, leading further into the palace. In the times of the Emperor, only he was allowed to cross the central bridge.


A male Guardian Lion keeping watch over the courtyard.


The Forbidden City has several of these large courtyards, which are often packed with tourists, especially in the summer months.


Smaller, quieter areas off to the sides of the main courtyards are good to explore away from the packed crowds that flock through the central area of the Forbidden City.


These stone tablets depict aspects of ancient Chinese culture, such as dragons. Marking the central axis of the Forbidden City and, therefore, the whole of Beijing, only the Emperor was allowed to pass over these, often carried on a litter suspended over the tablets, while his servants had to walk up the stairs on either side of him.


Due to the construction work, Beijing has a large number of cranes, even in the Forbidden City!


Well, this guy seemed to appreciate my previous joke...


The golden roofs of the buildings create an attractive backdrop for souvenir photos, and are most likely some of the most photographed objects in Beijing.


Beijing's CBD is visible from some of the raised areas in the Forbidden City, above the courtyards. The 330m China World Tower is clearly visible on the skyline, to the right of the CCTV Headquarters, whose wide, sloping roof is also visible.


The first couple of courtyards can be accessed for free, but the crowds lessen slightly once you pass into the inner areas, which cost money to access.


Viewed from the Forbidden City's cafe - a rather empty area which appears to be undergoing maintenance.


One of the large feature buildings of the Forbidden City - people often cram around these to get a look inside.

More Forbidden City to come later!
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Old September 15th, 2011, 06:21 PM   #15
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great photos of the forbidden city! How was the temperature?
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Old September 15th, 2011, 06:25 PM   #16
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Thank you! I was there at the end of July and the first half of August, generally it was very hot, averaging around the mid 30s (Celcius, that is) but it did hit the low-mid 40s a few times. And for the first few days it was pretty much 100% humidity, but a nice big storm eventually changed that!
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Old September 15th, 2011, 06:55 PM   #17
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Nice thread....nice photos and I like the accompanying write ups....thanks.
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Old September 16th, 2011, 09:51 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkyscraperSuperman View Post
Thank you! I was there at the end of July and the first half of August, generally it was very hot, averaging around the mid 30s (Celcius, that is) but it did hit the low-mid 40s a few times. And for the first few days it was pretty much 100% humidity, but a nice big storm eventually changed that!
I've never visited Beijing (or China in fact) anytime out of winter. Everytime I'm there its freezing! Usually rangin from -10 degrees C to about 5 degree C!
It seems like a pretty different scenery in the different season as well
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Old September 19th, 2011, 02:08 AM   #19
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Really enjoying this thread so far
Keep on going.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 08:01 PM   #20
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A female Guardian Lion with the cub under her left paw.


A Forbidden City sundial. In the times of the Emperor, he was effectively able to control time completely, deciding what happened when, and nobody could disagree with him.


The area is filled with ancient animal statues that have been preserved over a long period of time.






The colourful buildings of the Forbidden City just scream 'look at me' to the crowds of tourists passing through.




Animal statues line the rooftops of the ancient buildings. The more animals there are, the more important the building.


Heading into the Forbidden City's Imperial Garden!
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