Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ming City Wall Park, Bell and Drum Tower, Jingshan and Beihai Park

I needed to get a couple of things done so figured I would make this a slow day since I was planning on going to visit the wall again at Simatai the following day. I figured I needed fresh legs for the wall which I put in an earlier entry. I don’t think I did well on my plane because I did a lot of walking and a lot of stairs for a day that was suppose to be a lazy day.

I started by getting a train ticket for moving on to Datong and picked up so stamps for postcard then found the Ming City Wall Park. It was not that impressive but I enjoyed getting away from the crowds of so many of the sites.

After the city wall I visited the Drum and Bell towers. These were used as some point to sound the time. The bell is huge and the sign said it is 24 CM thick. I climbed the stairs to each of the towers and took a picture of the one from the other.

Drum Tower taken from the Bell Tower

Bell Tower taken from the Drum Tower

After the 2 towers I was walking to the Beihai Park but saw the entrance to another park and it turned out to be Jingshan Park. I had seen the building that is at the top of the hill in the park from the Forbidden city a few days before so entered the park and climbed to the top of the hill and looked out over the forbidden city.

Jingshan Park from Beihai Park

After visiting Jingshan Park I walked over to Beihai Park and climbed the stairs to the White Dagoba that is at the top of the hill in Beihai Park.

Beihai Park from Jingshan Park

I walked along the lake in the park to the North entrance of the park and returned to the Hotel walking via some of the Hutongs. My travel book describes the Hutong as “Enchanting warren of one-story ramshackle dwellings and historic courtyard homes”. In walking through some of the small alley type streets a few things struck. First there are public toilets everywhere and they all have signs on them “Mens”, “Womens” and also the Chinese characters for each. The number of public toilets struck me as strange. Looking in the book it confirmed what I was thinking that most of the houses in the Hotong area do not have toilets. The other thing was that unlike me most tourist don’t walk down a lot of this little alleyway so why put the signs in English.

Another thing I have noticed that really started when I was walking in a Hutong and it seems to hold true for everywhere I go, is people know the word “Hello”. I think this may have something to do with the Olympics and maybe they have some sort of advertising to teach the people hello. Most children I see or maybe it is better to say every child that see me seem to yell “Hello”. I have also got it from a guy digging a ditch and a guy loading brick and all of them seem really pleased that I answer with a “Hello”

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