Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beijing Royal Canal, Zhenjue Temple, Purple Bamboo Garden and Summer Palace

A month or so ago we signed up for a tour with the China Culture Center that took us on a boat tour through northwest Beijing.

This was originally a canal that was used to transport the emperor from the Forbidden City to the Summer Palace.

The canal passes through the Beijing zoo although we did not stop there. This looks like an escapee. Not sure if he has only one leg or not.

This is a pretty special activity in Beijing, indeed China. There isn't a lot of power boat activity here.

We were on a more stately barge, not the power boat.

The tour stopped at Zhenjue Temple next. Zhenjue means "Great Righteous Awakening". This temple is also known as Five Pagoda Temple or 五塔寺 or Wǔ Tǎ Sì. Unfortunately, the pagodas were closed for renovations.

You can learn more here: Zhenjue Temple

The temple currently houses the Beijing Art Museum of Stone Carvings. There is a section dedicated to tombstones, tablets that list the virtues of important officials from the Ming and Qing dynasty, great calligraphers, etc.

This is a tombstone, I believe, for a Christian missionary. If you click to enlarge you can see Roman lettering in addition to the Chinese.

You can learn more about the museum here:

Stone Carving Museum

This is a dragon sculpture.

Some of the carvings and statues were brought here because the original location was in the path or progress and the tomb or temple was abandoned.

I believe these statues and the doorway are from the tomb of an important official.

The next stop was the Purple Bamboo Garden or Zizhuyuan. This is another huge park in Beijing. See the following links for other parks we have visited if you missed them.
Yuyuantan Park
Ritan Park or Temple of the Sun Park
Old Summer Palace
Dongdan Park

There are a lot of activities for the citizens. There was a large group doing TaiChi as you can see above.

These are just two of the women playing these cucurbit flutes. There must have been at least a dozen people playing. It looked like some were getting lessons and others were just getting together to play.

This instrument is called a hulusi in Chinese. You can learn more about it at this link. Hulusi

Here is what the sheet music looks like.

Click to enlarge.

There were several tables of Mahjong going.

A lot of people were exercising. The guy in gray on the right is even more flexible than this guy. Everyone was quite friendly and encouraged us to give it a try. One person from our tour took them up on it but not me.

These women with the their heads on their shins are in their late 60s, I'd say. I guess you don't just get up one day and decide to do this. It must take a while to work up to it.

There were several small lakes that attracted a few fishermen.

The last stop was the Summer Palace.

I've posted on this before. Here is another posting with more information.
Summer Palace

Here is the Wikipedia entry if you would like to know more about its history. Summer Palace

These ladies are from an ethnic minority group in China, I assume. There are 55 recognized ethnic minorities in China but I can't figure out which one they belong to. Most of the pictures online show fancy festival dress. This looks more like everyday wear.

If you can figure it out let me know and I'll update the post.

A small bridge in the park.

I think I've mentioned before that most toddlers and infants don't wear diapers - just split bottom pants. If they need to go then just pick a convenient flower bed, street drain or grassy spot and do your thing.

If you don't believe me check out this picture.

Lots of interesting architecture at the Summer Palace.

I'm not sure what these young women were all dressed up for. It might have been in celebration of college graduation. I imagine they wanted a group photograph to mark the occasion and before they headed off in different directions.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Catching Up - Pittsburgh Heinz History Center

Heinz History Center or Museum

Finally catching up on the last of the pictures from our trip back to the U.S. in May.

These pictures are from the Heinz History Center in downtown Pittsburgh.
Street car at the Heinz History Museum

The place is located in an old Heinz factory. The building construction is interesting on its own. See the picture above. The museum contains a wide selection of material all related to Pittsburgh in one way or another.
Heinz wagon at the Heinz History Museum

This, of course, reflects the history of Heinz but company history is a pretty small part of the overall content.
Stainless steel car at the Heinz History Museum

This display pays homage to Pittsburgh's history as a steel and specialty steel manufacturing hub. This car was made out of stainless steel to promote the non-rusting nature of the material.
Thacher slide rule at the Heinz History Museum

I had to include this. This is a Thacher slide rule. Apparently Edwin Thacher was was from Pittsburgh. This one was made in about 1890.

There is a lot of interesting stuff that people have donated. This is a scale model locomotive built by a hobbyist worked at a factory in Pittsburgh.

This is a fancy espresso machine from a hotel.

I was under the impression that this sort of coffee was a new invention.  I guess not.

Anyway the museum is highly recommended if you are ever in Pittsburgh.
Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit Auction and Sales Building

This last picture is not of the museum. It is the former wholesale fruit market in the commercial/industrial area of Pittsburgh. Apparently produce would be shipped in from the east coast by rail and then distributed over a wide area by truck. I was amazed at how long this building was. Click to enlarge.