Cormorant Fishing in Yangshuo

Chinese fisherman on his bamboo boat fishing with his Cormorants
Chinese fisherman on his bamboo boat fishing with his Cormorants

For more than 1000 years fishermen in Yangshuo have used trained cormorants to fish in the rivers. Going out on the Li River at night to watch these fishermen at work is one of the most popular activities of Yanshuo’s nightlife. This way of fishing has existed in china for generations and over the years, it has become a way to earn money and attract the tourist. 

We were taken out onto the river in a small boat and got to cruise next to the fishermen at work on their bamboo rafts.

The birds are taken by the fisherman at a young age and become bonded to them. They then catch fish according to natural instincts but are prevented from swallowing all but the smallest fish by a ring placed around their neck during the fishing process. However, the birds are not stupid and refuse to catch more fish unless they are rewarded occasionally which the fishermen do with small crabs and fish.

Fisherman retrieving the fish from a Cormorant
Fisherman retrieving the fish from a Cormorant

With an order from the fisherman, the well-trained cormorants dove into the water to find fish and catch them. They are so good at diving that they went under water for quite a long time. When they succeed in getting any fish, they proudly swam back to the raft with their catch.

Seeing how close I can get to these magnificent birds.
Seeing how close I can get to these magnificent birds.

The fisherman then has the bird spit the fish up and sends him back into the water again. My impression was that they looked quite healthy and were enjoying diving into the river after the fish. They were treated very well by the fisherman who looked very serene standing atop his bamboo raft.

It was a short trip, about 40 minutes but it included a stop for photos where I actually got to hold one of the cormorants!

I got to have a Cormorant on my arm!!!
I got to have a Cormorant on my arm!!!

Wordless Wednesday: A Glimpse of China

My mom and I travelled through China for a month and these are some photos that should give you a  glimpse of the China we experienced.

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Weekly Photo Challenge: Face

This week, let’s celebrate our many different faces. These are some of the beautiful people I have come across during my travels.

Attending a local cooking class in China was a highlight!

Chinese cooking class
Our Group about to start our Chinese cooking lesson

One of my most memorable experiences in China was getting to attend a Chinese cooking class with my mom. We got to make 3 different Chinese dishes, of which, only 2 of ours were actually edible.

Our first dish, some kind of egg plant and veggie dish was so oily that neither one of us could stomach it. We definitely learnt the hard way that we had to listen to the chefs instructions and actually measure out the ingredients. But to come to our defense, this was actually the first time either of us used a proper wok so we didn’t really know how much oil to use. And the ingredients were new to us so neither one of us knew how they would affect the taste of the dish.

Our beer fish turned our better but the best dish was definitely the Dim Sum!!! We got to prepare traditional Dim sum, in small bite-sized portions, cooked and served in small steamer baskets. Traditionally, dim sum is meant to be enjoyed with a group, allowing you to sample a large number of items. And as it happened we were quite a big group so there was bound to be a lot of different dumplings going around.

Chinese cooking class
We are making Dim Sum!!!

We got to make beef, chicken, prawns and vegetarian Dim Sum. We were given a couple of rolled out pieces of dough, each piece a circle about 3-inches in diameter.

We had to place a small portion (about 1 level tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Not all our pieces looked like half moons and after a while my mom and I played around with the way we would fold the dough.

We placed our dumplings into  small steamer baskets and watched as got steamed. We couldn’t wait to eat them and we were pleasantly surprised that ours turned out quite tasty.

I cant wait to try and make dim sum again and I am definitely going to by myself a wok and try out some other Chinese dishes.

Chinese cooking class
Me and my mom….my favourite travel partner ever!!

Lotus Park in the south of Xian

Lotus Park in the south of Xian
Spending the morning in a lotus park in the south of Xian

One of my most peaceful experiences in China was spending the morning in the Lotus Park in the south of Xian. While on our huge China Odyssey my mom and I rarely had time to just sit and relax as there was so much to see and so many places to go to. So spending the morning alone in a lotus park was a rare luxury. That morning there was a violin class taking place in one of the little verandas along the lake, adding to the tranquil and peaceful atmosphere of the park.

The lotus flower has come to be associated with purity and beauty in the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism respectively. In Buddhism the lotus is known to be associated with purity, spiritual awakening and faithfulness. The flower is considered pure as it is able to emerge from murky waters in the morning and be perfectly clean.

In Hinduism the lotus flower is associated with beauty, fertility, prosperity, spirituality, and eternity.

There was even a calligraphy class going on where they practiced their art with huge brushes on the pavement. What a beautiful setting in which to learn and practice such an ancient and beautiful art.

calligraphy class
Calligraphy class in the park

The Screeching of Chinese Opera

Chinese Opera
Chinese Opera has the most colourful costumes ever!

You don’t need to understand Cantonese or be familiar with the stories of Chinese history and mythology from which the dramas of Chinese opera are written to enjoy it. The performance alone is entertainment enough, with their spectacle of colourful costumes and extravagant sets. Before attending the Chinese Opera in Beijing I had heard a lot about the famously unique style of singing used in these operas and couldn’t wait to hear it for myself.

Unfortunately the singing sounded more like screeching to me but the costumes and performance was beautiful to watch. I was quite scared that we would be lost, not knowing the myths or story the opera was based on, but they provided screens on the side that translated what they were singing on stage into English. This is one of those cultural experiences that are amazing to see but experiencing it once was enough for me.

Weekly Photo Challenge:Signs

From the street signs we see on our commute to work each day to the random signs we come across during our travels, signs are functional, but can also be decorative or entertaining. Signs can direct us where to go, but they can be very confusing when translated wrongly or with a sense of humour.

Dont Hurt Me For Your Pretty
Dont Hurt Me For Your Pretty

I have come across a couple of different entertaining signs while travelling through Asia and the above one I found in China in one of the beautiful parks there.

Why can the fire escape not squeeze?
Why can the fire escape not squeeze?

Some signs are just confusing. Like the above one found in a hotel corridor next to the stairs and the one below found on a garbage can?!

Then what should I throw aeay?
Then what should I throw away?

One of my favourite signs is this sign I found along the path I walked through Miyajima Island in Japan. This shrine filled island is very peaceful and people were all strolling around and appreciating the peaceful atmosphere. I couldn’t imagine anybody being in a hurry while exploring this lovely island. But just in case you were, it was good to know that you could reach the ropeway station in 7 minutes if you were pressed for time!

Just in case you were in a hurry, you could reach the rope way station in 7 minutes....if you run a little!!
Just in case you were in a hurry, you could reach the rope way station in 7 minutes….if you run a little!!

China’s “Small Venice” or ‘Garden of Clear Ripples’ at the Summer Palace

The Summer Palace in Beijing started out life as the ‘Garden of Clear Ripples’  in 1750. It served as a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi, who diverted 30 million taels of silver, originally designated for the Chinese navy, into the reconstruction and enlargement of the Summer Palace. Personally I think it was money well spent for this is such a beautiful part of this palace structure. People come from all over the world to see this “Small Venice” of China. 

The old town with all its canals
My mom waving from the old town with all its canals
The old town with all its canals
The old town with all its canals

This beautiful town with its waterways is situated behind the hill that the main palace buildings are situated on. We reached this tranquil spot after spending hours walking through the crowded palace and it was the perfect way to ens our Palace exploration. This area is called the old town and with all its canals and walkways gives you a glimpse into what it must have looked like here 200 years ago.

The main canal filled street is known as Suzhou Street and it is here that you will still find Chinese artisans busy with their calligraphy or the art of making Chinese lanterns.

Lotus flowers have also found their way into these canals but is part of what creates this peaceful atmosphere.

The Rear Hill area to the North
The Rear Hill area to the North of the Summer Palace
This canal filled street is known as Suzhou Steet.
This canal filled street is known as Suzhou Steet.
Artisan captured at work
Artisan captured at work

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List so we will not see any modern gadgets around here. I caught a calligraphy artist at work here. This canal filled town is the ideal place for artists to work without much distraction and its such an amazing experience to watch them create these pieces of art.

It declared the Summer Palace “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.” 

 It was built as an exact copy of Shantang Steet for the Empress Dowager,
It was built as an exact copy of Shantang Steet for the Empress Dowager,

Hiking the famous Yellow mountain of China was breathtakingly fabulous but physically torturous!!

The Fabulous Yellow Mountain!
The Fabulous Yellow Mountain!
Ready for the Yellow Mountain Hike
Ready for the Yellow Mountain Hike

Our long awaited hike of China’s Yellow or Huangshan Mountain was the last item on our huge China Odyssey tour and definitely worth the wait.

Huangshan is a mountain range in South East China. The range is composed of material that was uplifted from an ancient sea during the Mesozoic era, 100 million years ago. The mountains themselves were carved by glaciers during the QuaternaryThe area is well known for its scenery, peculiarly shaped granite peaks, Huangshan Pine trees, and views of the clouds from above.

We started our morning with a 30 minute walk to the bus station and in the heat we were all already sweating a bit by the time we got onto the bus. The bus ride took us up into the mountains on a very windy road with bamboo forests all along the way.

crossed valleys and traveled past mountain outcrops and over forests
We crossed valleys and traveled past mountain outcrops and over forests in the cable car

In one of these cable cars we crossed valleys and traveled past mountain outcrops and over forests. It was a breathtaking view and I didnt want the ride to end.

 Yellow Mountain
Mist covered Yellow Mountain

The mist was creeping in slowly, filling the forest and giving everything an eerie feel. As of 1990, there were over 50 kilometers of footpaths providing access to scenic areas for visitors and staffers of the facilities. Luckily there are cable cars that we could use to ride directly from the base to one of the summits. 

Once we reached the summit it was nice and cool, perfect weather for hiking in.

Yellow Mountain Hike
The start of our Yellow Mountain Hike

The Huangshan mountain range has many peaks, some more than 1,000 meters high. The three tallest and best-known peaks are Lotus Peak (Lian Hua Feng, 1,864 m), Bright Summit Peak (Guang Ming Ding, 1,840 m), and Celestial Peak (Tian Du Feng, literallyCapital of Heaven Peak, 1,829 m).

 Yellow Mountain
Mom and I on top of Yellow Mountain
Yellow mountain
The stunning Yellow mountain

The vegetation of the area varies with elevation. Mesic forests cover the landscape below 1,100 meters. Deciduous forest stretches from 1,100 meters up to the tree line at 1,800 meters. Above that point, the vegetation consists of alpine grasslands.

The Huangshan pine is named after Huangshan and is considered an example of vigor because the trees thrive by growing straight out of the rocks. Many of the area’s pine trees are more than a hundred years old and have been given their own names.  The pines vary greatly in shape and size, with the most crooked of the trees being considered the most attractive.

Yellow mountain
Such a beautiful sight!

“To enjoy the magnificence of a mountain, you have to look upwards in most cases. To enjoy Mount Huangshan, however, you’ve got to look downward.

Yellow mountain
Mist covered Yellow mountain

We planned on doing a 3 hour long hike over the mountains and were geared with water, food and even walking sticks for our big adventure.

Yellow mountain
Enjoying the cool misty Yellow mountain

The hike was amazing, the scenery absolutely worth it. The mountain top was shrouded in mist and the many peaks appeared to float on the clouds.

Yellow mountain
Jagged granite peaks cover Yellow mountain

Jagged granite peaks clothed in uniquely shaped pine trees create a spectacular landscape of great interest to artists and photographers.

Walking along the 2m wide paved paths
Walking along the 2m wide paved paths
look over the side of some of these paths, you will see a long sheer drop.
Look over the side of some of these paths, you will see a long sheer drop.

The walkways in Huangshan mountain area are properly engineered 2m wide paved paths over the main routes from the cable car stations and probably on the steps up from the valleys. Handrails and parapets are done well, and that’s a good thing because when you look over the side of some of these paths, you will see a long sheer drop.

Unfortunately the walk included a lot of stairs up and down as we crossed the cliffs and walked through the valleys. These steps ended up being quite hard on our knees so I was suffering a bit by the end of our hike.

The hotels, restaurants, and other facilities at the top of the mountain are serviced and kept stocked by porters who carry resources up the mountain on foot, hanging their cargo from long poles balanced over their shoulders or backs.

porters who carry resources up the mountain on foot
Porters who carry resources up the mountain on foot

After 3 hours of hiking we were all tired and sore. Unfortunately our guide Jay had gotten a bit lost and had to ask for directions. He then told us not to worry, the cable car is just another 15 minute walk away.

 Yellow Mountain
After 3 hours of hiking we are nearly done for!

This turned into the longest 15 minutes of my life as nearly 2 hours later and countless of steps up and down we only reached the cable car.

 Yellow Mountain
Struggling up more steps

We were quite proud of ourselves for surviving this very difficult 5 hour long hike but was in no mood to walk anywhere the rest of the evening. Once we got back to Mr Hu’s hostel we had a shower and mister Hu, the sweet owner cooked us some dinner.

Mr Hu’s hostel
Mr Hu owner of Mr Hu’s hostel

Huangshan is a frequent subject of traditional Chinese paintings and literature, as well as modern photography no wonder it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of China’s major tourist destinations. Together with the Yellow River, the Yangtze River and the Great Wall, it has become one of the great symbols of China and I was glad to end my China adventure with this mountain hike.

The Fabulous Summer Palace and its Amazing Gardens in Beijing

situated on Longevity Hill
Summer Palace situated on Longevity Hill

Walking through the Summer Palace where once only Royalty could enter was very high on my Beijing wish list. Our China Odyssey group took taxis to the Summer Palace and unfortunately the taxi drivers dropped us off at different entrances so we were split up for the day. This ended up not being a huge problem as we had all arranged to meet again later that day to attend the Beijing Opera.  

Kunming Lake
The lotus covered Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace

The Summer Palace of Beijing, is a fabulously huge place dominated by the Kunming Lake which lies right in-front of this huge Palace complex. The Palace buildings are mostly situated on Longevity Hill from where you get the most amazing views over the lotus flower filled Lake.

The huge Kunming Lake covers an area of 2.2 square kilometers and was the sight that greeted us as we entered the Palace grounds. This vast expanse of water with its lotus filled edges is a breathtaking view. The lake is filled with small leisure boats taking tourist out to get a closer view of the lotus flowers or the small islands dotted all over the lake.

Walking through the colourful Long Gallery of the Western Causeway
Walking through the colourful Long Gallery of the Western Causeway
Each pillar had an unique painting
Each pillar had an unique painting above it

The East Causeway of the lake is connected to the West Causeway by the Long painted Gallery, interspersed with pavilions, bridges and wharfs. Walking through this colourful wooden pavilion was an amazing experience. Each pillar section had an unique painting and you could see that it must have taken them ages to decorate this walkway. Each art work depicts a beautiful scene from China’s rich history or the countless beautiful natural scenes that fill it.

Walking along the same path the Emperors of China walked is such an amazing experience.

It was a typical Chinese summer day, very hot and humid but we took our time exploring this amazing place. It was an awesomely huge and great place to explore with lots of old buildings and beautiful views over the lake and forest surrounding the place. 

In the SummerPalace, one finds a variety of palaces, gardens, and other classical-style architectural structures.

The main archway, entering the SummerPalace
The main archway, entering the SummerPalace
The Cloud-Dispelling Hall
The Cloud-Dispelling Hall

The palace building are all situated along Longevity Hill which is about 60 metres high with loads of steep staircases and pathways leading to the top. The foot of this hill is filled with rich with splendid halls and pavilions, while the back hill, in sharp contrast, is quiet with natural beauty. This was where Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu met officials and conducted state affairs. With the same pattern of the imperial palace of China-‘Palace in front and garden behind’, the Court Area consists of sections for both court affairs and living.

This is the most magnificent area with the most constructions. It is symmetrically laid out with many delicate buildings and graceful gardens with the south-facing Tower of Buddhist Incense as the central axis.

Mom and I infront of the Cloud-Dispelling Hall
Mom and I infront of the Cloud-Dispelling Hall

On its southern slope, Longevity Hill is adorned with an ensemble of grand buildings: The Cloud-Dispelling Hall, the Temple of Buddhist Virtue, and the Sea of Wisdom Temple.

Looking out over the Summer Palace courtyard
Looking out over the Summer Palace courtyard
Temple of Buddhist Virtue
Walking up to the Temple of Buddhist Virtue
Temple of Buddhist Virtue
Temple of Buddhist Virtue

In the center of the Temple of Buddhist Virtue stands the Tower of Buddhist Incense (Fo Xiang Ge), which forms the focal point for the buildings on the southern slope of Longevity Hill. The tower is built on a 20-meter-tall stone base, is 41 meters high with three stories and supported by eight ironwood pillars. There are also the Garden of Virtue and Harmony where Cixi was entertained and Yiyun Hall where once lived the Empress Longyu.

Hall of Benevolence and Longevity
Hall of Benevolence and Longevity


East Palace Gate and Hall of Benevolence and Longevity served as office of the Emperor. The Hall of Jade Ripples was for Guangxu to live in and the Hall of Joyful Longevity for Cixi.

The SummerPalace started out life as the ‘Garden of Clear Ripples’  in 1750. It served as a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi, who diverted 30 million taels of silver, said to be originally designated for the Chinese navy, into the reconstruction and enlargement of the SummerPalace. This diversion of funds away from military sources came just six years before the first First Sino-Japanese War which China lost.

The old town with all its canals
The old town with all its canals
The old town with all its canals
The old town with all its canals

The Rear Hill area to the North is quiet compared to the Front Hill Area. Most constructions were never able to be repaired after wars, only a few ruins are left. In the axis of Rear Hill Area, there used to be a religious building group-HoudaTemple, a composite structure with both Han and Tibetan characters. Although the constructions are fewer here, it has a unique landscape with dense green trees and winding paths. Situated in the heart of this area is the old town with all its canals and walkways. This canal filled street is known as Suzhou Steet. It was built as an exact copy of Shantang Steet for the Empress Dowager, Cixi (1835–1908), of the Qing Dynasty for her amusement.

The Rear Hill area to the North
The Rear Hill area to the North of the Summer Palace
This canal filled street is known as Suzhou Steet.
This canal filled street is known as Suzhou Steet.
Artisan captured at work
Artisan captured at work

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.” 

 It was built as an exact copy of Shantang Steet for the Empress Dowager,
It was built as an exact copy of Shantang Steet for the Empress Dowager,

Super fresh handmade pasta in Suzhou, China

Suzhou, the morning after the Typhoon
Suzhou, the morning after the Typhoon
Small cafe across from our hotel
Small cafe across from our hotel

One of my most tasty noodle dishes was having fresh rice noodles with vegetables at a small local cafe in Suzhou.

This small local place was situated across the street from our hotel where we were spending the night. After spending the day exploring Suzhou by braving the Typhoon we were chilled to the bone and didn’t want to venture too far for dinner. With the Typhoon still raging outside we found dry refuge inside this little cosy noodle cafe.

We were not expecting much as the dishes were priced quite cheap and were pleasantly surprised when our noodles were made right in front of us. The guy worked with so much skill and made the rice noodles all by hand, not once did he use a pasta roller or cutter.

Our vegetables were just as fresh as we could actually watch them being washed and then prepared for us.

Noodles are an essential ingredient and staple in Chinese cuisine. There is a great variety of Chinese noodles, which vary according to their region of production, ingredients, shape or width, and manner of preparation. These wheat noodles are made with eggs, which adds flavour, colour, and body. They are actually called ‘pulled noodles’ of LanZhou.  They are made by stretching and folding the dough into strands. However, the twisting and subsequent stretching of the strips of dough happens due to the weight of the dough. Depending on the number of times the dough gets folded, the strands can be made in various lengths and thicknesses.

Mom enjoying our fresh noodles and vegetable breakfast
Mom enjoying our fresh noodles and vegetable breakfast

We returned for another bowl of fresh noodles the next morning for breakfast. The weather had cleared up a bit by then so I could actually take some photos. This was definitely one of the top ten dishes we had while exploring China on our China Odyssey tour.

Walking Through Chinese Gardens and Parks during a Typhoon

Our crazy guide Jay
Our crazy guide Jay

During our month long China Odyssey we had hot and humid weather but as we arrived in Suzhou it was raining and the wind was blowing. We actually arrived smack in the middle of a typhoon hitting Suzhou. Normally people would stay indoors during a Typhoon and only venture out if it was really necessary. But unfortunately we only had one full day to explore Suzhou so actually braved the Typhoon.

Originally founded in 514 BC, Suzhou has over 2,500 years of rich history, and relics of the past are abundant to this day. The city’s canals, stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens have contributed to its status as one of the top tourist attractions in China. 

Braving the Typhoon to see the famous waterways of Suzhou
Braving the Typhoon to see the famous waterways of Suzhou

known as the Venice of china
Known as the Venice of china

Armed with umbrellas and rain jackets we took the last outgoing boat to see what is known as the Venice of china.

It was pouring down and the wind was picking up so we had to appreciate the scenery through rain streaked windows or get soaked when we opened it to take a picture.  

 

Both eight hundred-year-old Pingjiang Street and twelve hundred-year-old Shantang Street made it to the list of China’s “famous history and culture streets”, and both feature elegant bridges, flowing waters and unique architecture.

When Bai Juyi (772–846), a famous poet of the Tang Dynasty, was mayor of Suzhou, he got the people to dig ditches and build roads. They developed a waterway, the Shantang River, and Shantang St to connect Tiger Hill with Suzhou. Then the street gradually became a popular tourism resort with Wu characteristics and plenty of ethnic customs.

cultural area of old Suzhou and has been in existence for 1,000 years
This cultural area of old Suzhou and has been in existence for 1,000 years
Houses along the waterway
Houses along the waterway

The Pingjiang Street is in the northeastern part of old Suzhou on a 116.5-hectare area, which has a 2,500-year history and the best-preserved cultural-protection zone of old Suzhou. Throughout history, many literary scholars, high officials, and members of the nobility lived in the quarter. It is an open district consisting mainly of residential buildings and its true value lies in the traditional style of living. The Pingjiang Quarter is part of the historic, cultural area of old Suzhou and has been in existence for 1,000 years, maintaining the style of the Song Dynasty. It is a portrait of “water and land, and rivers adjacent to the streets,” and a good example of the waterside towns south of the Yangtze River with their “small bridges over flowing streams, and whitewashed walls and black tiles”.

Suzhou is famous for its classical gardens and we couldnt leave without visiting them although it was pouring down outside. We ended up walking through two of Suzhous most beautiful gardens.

Braving the Typhoon!
Braving the Typhoon!

While walking through the parks umbrellas got blown away and we were soaked from head to toes by the time we finished exploring the second beautiful park.

Because of the Typhoon the parks were quite empty so we could get lovely photos of the gardens. Not a lot of people seemed crazy enough to walk through a park during a typhoon.

The Humble Administrator’s Garden is the largest garden in Suzhou and is considered by some to be the finest garden in all of southern China. It was the residence and garden of Lu Guimeng, a Tang Dynasty scholar. Later in the Yuan Dynasty it became the Dahong Temple’s garden.

The Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator’s Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator’s Garden

In 1513 CE, Wang Xiancheng, an Imperial Envoy and poet of the Ming Dynasty created a garden on the site of the dilapidated Dahong Temple which had been burnt during the Ming conquest. In 1510, he retired to his native home of Suzhou under the occasion of his father’s death. He had experienced a tumultuous official life punctuated by various demotions and promotions, and gave up his last official post as magistrate of Yongjia county in Zhejiang province, and began to work on the garden.

An Idle Life, “I enjoy a carefree life by planting trees and building my own house…I irrigate my garden and grow vegetables for me to eat…such a life suits a retired official like me well.”[4] This verse symbolized Wang’s desire to retire from politics and adopt a hermits life in the manner of Tao Yuanming.

The Humble Administrator's Garden
Walking through the Humble Administrator’s Garden

Wang’s son lost the garden to pay gambling debts, and it has changed hands many times since. In 1860, it became the residence of a Taiping prince, Li Xiucheng and it was remodeled, and the current aspect of the garden is said to be inherited from this period.

The Humble Administrator's GardenThe Humble Administrator's Garden
In the middle of the Humble Administrator’s Garden
The garden contains numerous pavilions and bridges
The garden contains numerous pavilions and bridges

The garden contains numerous pavilions and bridges set among a maze of connected pools and islands. We couldnt apreciate the full beauty of it in the puring rain but it was still an amazing experience walking through this garden.

In total, the garden contains 48 different buildings with 101 tablets, 40 stelae, 21 precious old trees, and over 700 Suzhou-style penjing/penzai. No wonder we got lost a bit and it took us a while to find the exit again.

The second Garden we braved in the Typhoon was Lingering Garden a renowned classical Chinese garden.

Lingering Garden
Lingering Garden

Lingering Garden was commissioned by Xu Taishi an impeached and later exonerated official in 1593 CE. Stonemason Zhou Shicheng designed and built the East Garden as it was initially called. The East Garden became famous in its day when the magistrates of Wu and Changzhou County both praised the design of Shi Ping Peak, a rockery constructed to resemble Tiantai Mountain in Putao.

Lingering Garden
Lingering Garden

From 1823 CE the garden was open to public, and became a famed resort.

During Sino-Japanese War, the garden was abandoned, and it even degenerated into breeding zone for army’s horses. After establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Suzhou government took over and renovated the garden. It was reopened to the public in 1954. 

View of the garden out of the pavillion
View of the garden out of the pavillion

The 23,310 m2 garden is divided into four distinctly themed sections; East, Central, West, and North. The Central area is the oldest part of the garden. Buildings, the primary feature of any Chinese garden, occupy one third of the total area.

A unique feature this garden is the 700 m covered walk which connects the different sections.
A unique feature this garden is the 700 m covered walk which connects the different sections.

A unique feature this garden is the 700 m covered walk which connects the different sections. 

The built elements of the garden are grouped by section. The ensemble of structures in the central garden encircles a pond and grotto main feature.

 Old Hermit Scholars' House
Old Hermit Scholars’ House

Behind the Old Hermit Scholars’ House is the SmallCourtofStoneForest, a collection of Scholar stones and connected minor courtyards.

The classical gardens in Suzhou were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and 2000. 

Exploring China’s Temple of Heaven where they Performed Sacrifices for Good Harvests

Temple of Heaven
Entering the Temple of Heaven through the South Gate

During our fabulous China Odyssey tour we got to visit a couple of different temples and shrines but the Temple of Heaven ended up being my favourite.

The Temple of Heaven, literally translated as the Altar of is a complex of religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle EmperorThe complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It has been regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese Heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism.

Circular Mound Altar
The huge marble Circular Mound Altar
The  three levels of marble stones were decorated by lavishly carved dragons
The three levels of marble stones were decorated by lavishly carved dragons

I was so excited to get to explore this round temple situated on its round platforms all built out of marble. As we entered the Temple of Heaven from the south the first thing we came across were the Circular Mound Altar, the altar proper. It is an empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones, each decorated by lavishly carved dragons. The numbers of various elements of the Altar, including its balusters and steps, are either the sacred number nine or its multiples.

The center of the altar is a round slate called the Heart of Heaven or the Supreme Yang, where the Emperor prayed for favorable weather. Thanks to the design of the altar, the sound of the prayer will be reflected by the guardrail, creating significant resonance, which was supposed to help the prayer communicate with the Heaven. The whole altar was a bit crowded but I eventually  got to stand right on the sacrifice stone! It is told that they used to sacrifice animals here but I also heard stories that during some ceremonies they actually sacrificed people.

 right on the sacrifice stone
Me standing right on the sacrifice stone
Circular Mound Altar
Mom and I next to the Circular Mound Altar

In ancient China, the Emperor of China was regarded as the Son of Heaven, who administered earthly matters on behalf of, and representing, heavenly authority. To be seen to be showing respect to the source of his authority, in the form of sacrifices to heaven, was extremely important. The temple was built for these ceremonies, mostly comprising prayers for good harvests.

Twice a year the Emperor and all his retinue would move from the Forbidden city through Beijing to encamp within the complex, wearing special robes and abstaining from eating meat. No ordinary Chinese was allowed to view this procession or the following ceremony. In the temple complex the Emperor would personally pray to Heaven for good harvests. The highpoint of the ceremony at the winter solstice was performed by the Emperor on the Earthly Mount. The ceremony had to be perfectly completed; it was widely held that the smallest of mistakes would constitute a bad omen for the whole nation in the coming year.

 

The Imperial Vault of Heaven
The Imperial Vault of Heaven

The Imperial Vault of Heaven is a single-gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, that can transmit sounds over large distances. We tried it out but unfortunately the area was too crowded for the sound to carry.

The Imperial Vault of Heaven
The Imperial Vault of Heaven

The Imperial Vault is connected to the Hall of Prayer by the Vermilion Steps Bridge, a 360 meter long raised walkway that slowly ascends from the Vault to the Hall of Prayer.

Vermilion Steps Bridge,
The Vermilion Steps Bridge

Vermilion Steps Bridge,
Me on the Vermilion Steps Bridge,
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, 36 meters in diameter and 38 meters tall, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely wooden, with no nails.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests has four inner, twelve middle and twelve outer pillars, representing the four seasons, twelve months and twelve traditional Chinese hours respectively. Combined together, the twelve middle and twelve outer pillars represent the traditional solar term.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

Some interesting temple symbolisms where Earth was represented by a square and Heaven by a circle.  Several features of the temple complex symbolize the connection of Heaven and Earth, of circle and square. The whole temple complex is surrounded by two cordons of walls; the outer wall has a taller, semi-circular northern end, representing Heaven, and a shorter, rectangular southern end, representing the Earth. Both the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Circular Mound Altar are round, each standing on a square yard, again representing Heaven and Earth.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
All the buildings within the Temple have special dark blue roof tiles
All the buildings within the Temple have special dark blue roof tiles

All the buildings within the Temple have special dark blue roof tiles, representing the Heaven.

The Temple of Heaven was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 and was described as “a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world’s great civilizations…” as the “symbolic layout and design of the Temple of Heaven had a profound influence on architecture and planning in the Far East over many centuries.” 

Standing and Walking on The Great Wall of China!!

The Great Wall of China
This is where we will be going on the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is one of the Architectural Wonders of the Middle Ages and getting to see and stand on it has been one of the highlights of my travel adventures up to date. The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese against intrusions.

The Great Wall of China
Im snanding on the Great Wall of China!!

The Great Wall of ChinaThe Great Wall, one of the greatest wonders of the world, was listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1987. Just like a gigantic dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus, stretching approximately 8,851.8 kilometers  from east to west of China. Our China Odyssey group got to visit the  Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China located about 70 km northeast of central Beijing.

 We actually had a choice of either taking a cable car to the wall or climb the 4000+ steps from the base to the wall entrance. Everybody in our group was quite eager to take the cable car up and skip to steep 4000+ step climb up.

This section of the Great Wall is surrounded by woodland and streams and we traveled up the forest covered mountainside to the watchtower. 

The Great Wall of China
Mom and I together on the Great Wall of China

The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall, and surprising ly enough it wasn’t as crowded as expected. The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs.

Mom and I had a fabulous time up on the Great Wall! We walked around but stopped nearly every 5 steps to take  photos of the wall and the stunning scenery surrounding it. Stepping out across the peaceful semi-ruin of a section of the Great Wall is like walking in the footsteps of the past. Far from the madding tourist crowds we are able to get a great sense of the scale and the majesty of this remarkable piece of engineering without rushing through in a big group. We were quite lucky to get some shots of the Great Wall without people in it!!

The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China

It was amazing to be up there and so special to be able to share this amazing moment with my mom.

Mom hiding in the Great Wall!!
Mom hiding in the Great Wall!!
The Great Wall of China
Having loads of fun on the Great Wall of China
Watchtowers
Behind me is the Watchtower

Built mainly with granite, the wall is 7–8.5 meters high and the top is 4–5 meters wide. Compared with other sections of Great Wall, Mutianyu Great Wall possesses some unique characteristics in its construction.

Watchtowers are densely placed along this section of the Great Wall – 22 watchtowers on this 2,250-metre-long stretch.

Watchtowers
Inside one of the Watchtowers
Walking along the Great Wall!!
Walking along the Great Wall!!

To get to the bottom of the hillside again we had a couple of option. We could either walk the 4000+ steps down or choose between a two-rider chairlift or four-rider to descend. Another feature of the wall at Mutianyu is an alternate method of descent by single-rider personal wheeled toboggan. This allows single riders to descend from the wall to the valley on a winding metal track.

Our China Odessey group on the Great Wall
Our China Odessey group on the Great Wall
My mom and I took the cable car down
My mom and I taking the cable car down

My mom and I took the cable car down and at the bottom of the foothill we stopped to buy some wall postcards. We looked through some of the other wall souvenirs and then walked down the cobbled road to the parking lot where we were meeting the rest of out group. As we reached the bottom my mom realized that her camera was missing. I think my mom nearly had a heart attack and went white from shock. We ran back up the cobbled steps and luckily the postcard lady had kept the camera that my mom had left there.  This was another reminder that I had to constantly check that my mom had all her stuff with her as she kept loosing things.

Shops at the bottom of the Great Wall
Shops at the bottom of the Great Wall

A peaceful afternoon spent on the tranquil Hangzhou, West Lake of China

West Lake or Xī Hú
West Lake or Xī Hú in Hangzhou

It took us a while to get used to our China Odyssey tour guide’s sense of distance and time. Our guides quick 15 walk from the hotel to the lake turned into a 40 minute hike! Our group might have been a tad more unfit than he thought so this could have been why his time estimate was way off.

West Lake or Xī Hú
The tranquil West Lake or Xī Hú
The tranquil West Lake or Xī Hú
The tranquil West Lake or Xī Hú

We walked across the TwistBridge on the Lake to a small island where we then had lunch before taking a boat across the huge lake.

West Lake or Xī Hú is a freshwater lake located in the historic area of Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province in eastern China. There are numerous temples, pagodas, gardens, and artificial islands within this huge lake.

Gu Hill is the largest natural island in the lake.`
Gu Hill is the largest natural island in the lake.
The lotus pont on the island
The lotus pont on the island

The lake is divided by Gu Shan, Bai, Su and Yanggong Causeways into five areas. “Gu Shan” or Gu Hill is the largest natural island in the lake. WestLake is not only famous for its picturesque landscape, it is also associated with many scholars, national heroes and revolutionary martyrs, thus embracing many aspects of Chinese culture. Held in the embrace of hilly peaks on three sides, this water wonderland has been an attraction for centuries and it is small wonder that it was a favourite imperial retreat. The lake and its environs have all the elements of a traditional Chinese garden but on a grand scale.

Gu Hill island in the West Lake
Gu Hill island in the West Lake

Cruising on WestLake, we were all caught in the peaceful atmosphere and charm of the beautiful surroundings. The lake looked like a landscape painting, and I felt as though I had stepped into a land of magic and fantasy.

Walkways take you through the lotus pond covered island
Walkways take you through the lotus pond covered island

Our China Oddesey group!!
Our China Oddesey group!!

To the south of the centre of the OuterLake is a man made island known as the Island of Little Oceans, that encloses four small lakes. From here one can view the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon when at night candles are lit in stone lanterns jutting out of the water thus creating the impression of the reflections of three moons. The scene is depicted on the 1 yen note.

The scene is depicted on the 1 yen note
The scene is depicted on the 1 yen note

“Ripping water shimmering on sunny day,
Misty mountains shrouded the rain; 
Plain or gaily decked out like Xizi;
WestLake is always alluring.”

These are the words composed by the famous Song Dynasty poet Su Dongpo (960-1127) when he compared the West Lake to Xi Zi, the most beautiful woman in ancient China. These poetic sentiments leave one in no doubt of the glory of the scenery that inspired them.

WestLake has influenced poets and painters throughout the ages for its natural beauty and historical relics, and it has been among the most important sources of inspiration for Chinese garden designers. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011.

The scene is depicted on the 1 yen note
The scene is depicted on the 1 yen note

Stepping foot into China’s Forbidden City in Beijing

Entering the Forbidden City through the East Glorious Gate,
Entering the Forbidden City through the East Glorious Gate,

Walking through the Forbidden City of Beijing has always been very high on my wishlist and getting to walk through this Chinese imperial palace while on our China Odyssey was a dream come true.

The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. For almost 500 years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.

Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 720,000 m2. So you need more than a day to be able to explore the whole palace and its surrounding gardens. We spent a whole day exploring the Palace and only saw the most important parts.

Me in front of the East Glorius Gates we just walked through to enter the Forbidden City.
Me in front of the East Glorius Gates we just walked through to enter the Forbidden City.

We entered the Forbidden City through the East Glorious Gate, walking through the Imperial palace and ending our adventure in the ImperialGarden at the North Gate. 

As we entered the city we walked along the central gateway, a stone flagged path that forms the central axis of the Forbidden City and leads all the way from the Gate of China in the south to Jingshan in the north. Only the Emperor was allowed to walk or ride on the Imperial Way, except for the Empress on the occasion of her wedding, so I felt quite royal walking along this path. 

Standing on the Royal Walkway!!!
Standing on the Royal Walkway!!!

Traditionally, the Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The Outer Court which was used for ceremonial purposes. The Inner Court or BackPalace which was the residence of the Emperor and his family, and was used for day-to-day affairs of state.

Entering from the Meridian Gate, we encountered a large square, pierced by the meandering Inner Golden Water River, which is crossed by five bridges.

the Gate of Supreme Harmony
Crossing the bridge to the Gate of Supreme Harmony

Behind that is the Hall of Supreme Harmony Square. A three-tiered white marble terrace rises from this square. Three halls stand on top of this terrace, the focus of the palace complex.

Hall of Supreme Harmony Square
Hall of Supreme Harmony Square
The Hall of Supreme Harmony
The Hall of Supreme Harmony

From the south, these are the Hall of Supreme Harmony , the Hall of Central Harmony , and the Hall of Preserving Harmony .

The Hall of Supreme Harmony  is the largest, and rises some 30 metres above the level of the surrounding square. It is the ceremonial centre of imperial power, and the largest surviving wooden structure in China. Set into the ceiling at the centre of the hall is an intricate caisson decorated with a coiled dragon, from the mouth of which issues a chandelier-like set of metal balls, called the “Xuanyuan Mirror”.

Yellow is the color of the Emperor. Thus almost all roofs in the Forbidden City bear yellow glazed tiles. 

The Hall of Central Peace is a smaller, square hall, used by the Emperor to prepare and rest before and during ceremonies. 

Hall of Preserving Harmony
Hall of Preserving Harmony

Behind it, the Hall of Preserving Harmony, was used for rehearsing ceremonies, and was also the site of the final stage of the Imperial examination. All three halls feature imperial thrones, the largest and most elaborate one being that in the Hall of Supreme Harmony.

ceremonial ramps
Infront of the ceremonial ramps

At the centre of the ramps leading up to the terraces are ceremonial ramps, part of the Imperial Way, featuring elaborate and symbolic bas-relief carvings.

The Inner Court
Entering the Inner Court
Our Choina Oddesey tour group!!
Our Choina Oddesey tour group!!

The Inner Court is separated from the Outer Court by an oblong courtyard and was the home of the Emperor and his family. In the Qing Dynasty, the Emperor lived and worked almost exclusively in the Inner Court, with the Outer Court used only for ceremonial purposes.

Water spouts between levels in the Inner Court prevent flooding on the higher levels.
Water spouts between levels in the Inner Court prevent flooding on the higher levels.
•The sloping ridges of building roofs are decorated with a line of statuettes led by a man riding a phoenix and followed by an imperial dragon. The number of statuettes represents the status of the building – a minor building might have 3 or 5. The Hall of Supreme Harmony has 10, the only building in the country to be permitted this in Imperial times.
The sloping ridges of building roofs are decorated with a line of statuettes led by a man riding a phoenix and followed by an imperial dragon. The number of statuettes represents the status of the building – a minor building might have 3 or 5. The Hall of Supreme Harmony has 10, the only building in the country to be permitted this in Imperial times.

At the centre of the Inner Court is another set of three halls . From the south, these are the Palace of Heavenly CourtHall of Union, and the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. Smaller than the Outer Court halls, the three halls of the Inner Court were the official residences of the Emperor and the Empress.

The Emperor, representing Yang and the Heavens, would occupy the Palace of Heavenly Purity.
The Emperor, representing Yang and the Heavens, would occupy the Palace of Heavenly Purity.
The Empress, representing Yin and the Earth, would occupy the Palace of Earthly Tranquility.
The Empress, representing Yin and the Earth, would occupy the Palace of Earthly Tranquility.
In between them was the Hall of Union, where the Yin and Yang mixed to produce harmony.
In between them was the Hall of Union, where the Yin and Yang mixed to produce harmony.
Hall of Union
Im in the courtyard of the Hall of Union

Behind these three halls lies the Imperial Garden. Relatively small, and compact in design, the garden nevertheless contains several elaborate landscaping features. 

From 1420 to 1644, the Forbidden City was the seat of the Ming Dynasty. After being the home of 24 emperors – 14 of the Ming Dynasty and 10 of the Qing Dynasty – the Forbidden City ceased being the political centre of China in 1912 with the abdication of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. Under an agreement with the new Republic of China government, Puyi remained in the Inner Court, while the Outer Court was given over to public use, until he was evicted after a coup in 1924.

The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. I would definitely recommend a visit to this amazing palace!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shanghai Horizon

The Lujiazui skyline of Shanghai
The Lujiazui skyline of Shanghai

Horizon. The space or line where the sky meets the earth. So many places where the sky meets the earth around the world, and millions of interactions between two elements. Here is one of the most beautiful city skylines I came across during our exploration of the concrete forest that is Shanghai.

The Lujiazui skyline of Shanghai
The Lujiazui skyline of Shanghai
The Lujiazui skyline of Shanghai
The Lujiazui skyline of Shanghai

Shanghai is the largest city by population in China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010. It is a popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as The BundCity God Temple and Yu Garden, as well as the extensive and growing Lujiazui skyline. It has been described as the “showpiece” of the booming economy of mainland China.

The Lujiazui skyline of Shanghai
The Lujiazui skyline of Shanghai

Early morning, before the worst humidity of the day made walking around difficult, we took a walk along the waterfront called the  Bund to check out the famous Lujiazui skyline of Shanghai. Pictures of the Lujiazui skyline dominate Shanghai tourism materials.

Currently, there are more than 30 buildings over 25 stories high with commerce as their leading function, and over 504 domestic and overseas financial and insurance corporations located in Lujiazui.

The Lujiazui skyline of Shanghai
TOur China tour group infront of the Lujiazui skyline of Shanghai

Walking across Beijing’s Tiananmen Square

Aproaching Tiananmen Square!
Aproaching Tiananmen Square!

Waiting in line to enter Tiananmen Square
Waiting in line to enter Tiananmen Square

I think that after traveling through China and riding on so many over-night trains I now know exactly what to expect and what to bring along for the ride. Armed with pot noodles and cans of ice-coffee and ice-tea we made the 17 hour train journey from Xian to Beijing. Arrived early morning in Beijing we only had time to leave our bags at the hotel before starting our day of exploring. 

We walked up to Tiananmen square which was located just up the road from our hotel. It was really not very far away but by the time we reached the entrance sweat was dripping down my back. I couldn’t believe it was this hot and humid already, it was only 10am and I was dying to have a cold shower!

Tiananmen Square is a large city square in the center of BeijingChina, named after the Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) located to its North.

We entered Tiananmen Square through the south gate known as Qianmen
We entered Tiananmen Square through the south gate known as Qianmen
The South Gate from the side
The South Gate from the side

This Square is the third largest city square in the world. The Tiananmen square was designed and built in 1651, and has since enlarged four times its original size in the 1950s. It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history.

I think that  the square is best known to us foreigners as the focal point of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. It was a pro-democracy movement which ended on 4 June 1989 with the declaration of martial law in Beijing by the government and the death of several hundred or possibly thousands of civilians. One of the most famous images that appears during these protests was when a man stands in front of a moving tank and refuses to move. This became a revolutionary icon in fighting against the government at the time.

Standing infront of the south gate known as Qianmen
Standing infront of the south gate known as Qianmen

We entered Tiananmen Square through the south gate known as Qianmen and had to walk through metal detectors before being allowed onto this famous Square. We walked across the packed square. Getting to stand in the middle of this Square where one of the most famous massacres in history took place was such a moving experience.

Im standing on Tiananmen Square!!!
Im standing on Tiananmen Square!!!
Me and mom stansing on Tiananmen Square with the mausoleum behind us.
Me and mom stansing on Tiananmen Square with the mausoleum behind us.

The year after Mao’s death in 1976, a Mausoleum was built near the site of the former Gate of China. People were lined up as far as the eye could see waiting for their chance to enter this mausoleum and get a look at the embalmed body of Mao. We were not going to waste a couple of hours standing in line for this and rather explored the huge square before going into the Forbidden City.

The bronze Monument to the People's Heroes
The bronze Monument to the People’s Heroes
My standing infront of the bronze Monument to the People's Heroes
Me standing infront of the bronze Monument to the People’s Heroes

The huge bronze Monument to the People’s Heroes was breathtakingly huge and stood out above the crowd filling this huge square. Thousands of people come to the Square every day so it is quite crowded.

the National Museum of China
The National Museum of China

 Along the east side of the Square we passed the National Museum of China with its beautifully sculpted gardens (dedicated to Chinese history predating 1919). The Square is heavily monitored by uniformed and plain clothes policemen.

The granite Monument to the People's Heroes
The granite Monument to the People’s Heroes

The granite Monument to the People’s Heroes is just at the center of the square. Built in 1952, it is the largest monument in China’s history. ‘ The People’s Heroes are Immortal’ written by Chairman Mao is engraved on the monument. Eight unusually large relief sculptures show to the people the development of Chinese modern history. Two rows of white marble railings enclose the monument, simple and beautiful.

Our fabulous China Odyssey group infront of Tiananmen Gate to the Forbidden City
Our fabulous China Odyssey group infront of the Tiananmen Gate to the Forbidden City

The Tiananmen Gate to the Forbidden City was built in 1415 during the Ming Dynasty. This gate separates the Tiananmen Square from the Forbidden City that lies just across the road.

The Worlds largest Buddha and the Leshan Dafo Temple on China’s Mount Emei

The hot and humid July weather of China was something I just couldn’t get used to while on our fabulous China Odyssey. So I was quite glad that we started most days early, before it got too hot to even breath properly and I still had the energy to walk up countless of stairs.

Made it up the first 300 steps!!
Made it up the first 300 steps!!

We climbed up the 300 steps that lead to the top of MountEmei which houses the Leshan Giant Buddha and DafuTemple.