Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Land of Jackie Chan. (成龍)

After six months of hard work teaching, we were ready for a holiday! It was time to escape for a few days and go somewhere new, which is all a part of our purpose this year.

My parents came and visited us here in Korea, giving us the perfect excuse to head over to Beijing. Even though the Korean peninsula is connected to China, there is a significant road block on the way there...North Korea. Needless to say, we flew.

We had an amazing two weeks with them. It was incredible to show them our life here in Korea and experience all of their "firsts" with them...things we have adjusted to as somewhat normal living here. On the other hand, it was wonderful to visit Beijing together, since that was the first time for all four of us to be in China. Also, I think that having them here right at our sixth month mark will help push us through the second half of this year. We are so thankful that they were able to come.

It's hard to sum up all that we did and saw in Beijing. I will just expound on a couple of the highlights and observations I had from our trip, which I absolutely LOVED!

The first thing that really stands out to me when I think about our trip was the difference between Seoul and Beijing. Of course, there are many differences between Korean culture and Chinese culture. But, I was surprised at the how unique Beijing looks and feels. It truly is a harmonious blend of the past and the present, the traditional and modern. This is especially evident in the architecture of the city. You can quickly walk from a block of high rises to a street of tile roofed, single story shops. I loved this part about the city.

We visited the main Beijing attractions.
If you are interested in the historical background information on any of these places, you can on the title for a somewhat accurate explanation, courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City was as elaborate and ornate as you could imagine. (I would venture to say it was even more magnificent than the biggest palace in Seoul, but, I'll probably keep that to myself within my circles here in Korea.) It was the emperor's palace from the Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. These are various pictures from around the different sections of the Forbidden City.

Interesting fact: It is called the Forbidden City because no one could enter or leave without the permission of the Emperor.

Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square is a huge area where thousands of people could gather together if they wanted or needed to, as they have in the past. It somewhat reminded me of our National Mall, in that they have similar purposes. It is a national iconic location where thousands can gather together, whatever their reason. One thing that I found odd was all of the towers surrounding it. These towers could very well be for the media as camera towers...but, I couldn't keep my mind from imagining what else these towers could be used for in this powerful communist nation.

Jingshan Park
We hiked up this small mountain behind the Forbidden City in Jingshan Park to see an amazing view of Beijing. Again, it highlighted, so strangely, this gigantic modern city that has not forsaken its ancient history.

Mutianyu Section of The Great Wall of China

Where do I begin? Visiting the Great Wall, was, without a doubt, my favorite part of our trip. We visited a part of the wall is not a popular location to visit, so there wasn't any tourist garbage and hardly any visitors. On the entire stretch that we walked, we only passed about 30 people. Also, the section we visited is one of the best preserved parts of the wall.

My Dad summed up so many of my feelings when he said this: "Being at the Great Wall puts the length of my short life into perspective."

It was phenomenal to be there...to walk on something that is such an important part of world history and civilization, and to stand on something I've heard about for so many years of my life. This is what I love about traveling.

Keith is working on compiling a slide show of our pictures and videos. He did post one very short video from the Great Wall that you can see in the right-hand column. He also took some incredible video at an acrobatic show we saw in Beijing. I guess I will say it again...more pictures and videos coming soon.

And on a final note...a favorite line from Lorelai Gilmore, speaking about her extremely long "To-Do" list:
"Hey, do you know that if the entire population of China walked by, the line would never end because of the rate of population increase? That's my list, every Chinese person in the world."
Posted by Megan and Keith at 8:41 PM |  


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