Monday, December 11, 2006

The Zhaoling & Factory Tours of Beijing

We asked the travel desk at the hotel about seeing The Great Wall. After discussing it, we decided on doing a package. This way we could just follow and learn in the short time that we had. First, we went to the Zhaoling which is a mausoleum of the 12th Emperor of the Ming Dynasty who died in 1572. We did, indeed, learn architectural and structural tidbits. One of the neatest things was that in ancient times, the middle bridge was reserved for royalty. It has all the original stone slabs. As we walked over it, you could almost imagine the emperor or empresses taking the same steps. When you entered the Prominent Palace, we noticed the offerings of money and food right away. These are presented to the gods. From the Soul Tower, you could see the Bao Cheng Wall, which is in a circle surrounding the Bao Cheng. The Bao Cheng is a huge mound of earth where Emperor Muzong and his three Empresses are buried.

Next, we went to the Jade Factory. We learned way more than we needed to know about Jade and Jade-ite. Jade-ite is the living Jade, meaning it will darken in color as time goes by. It is often used as a family heirloom since it becomes more beautiful as the years go by. Women will often wear it on their wrist as a bangle to represent marriage. It is so strong it can cut glass, so it won't break while she she does everyday things. The reddish Jade is known as Antique Jade (photo) and it is extremely expensive. At the factory we saw carving (photo) and polishing (photo) and all the detail that goes into making a piece of art. And I got to rub the belly of the happy Buddha for good luck (photo).

Then we went to a Pottery Factory (photo). It's amazing the detail that goes into making the shapes and the colors on these pots. It was very impressive. After which we had lunch (photo) and we met our fellow tourees, John and Rabya who are from England.

I was very excited about going to the Tea Factory where we got to sample and learn about several different teas. Many of the teas have healing or soothing capabilities. The pee pee boy (photo) had us all laughing because you keep him in cold water, then when the kettle is hot enough you pour the hot water over him and he "pees" water to show the water is good for seeping tea. We tried white, oolong, jasmine and a few others. They were all delicious. The most interesting was the Pur tea. It gets better with age just like some wines. It also had the best remedy power. The one we tried was 15 years old.

The silk factory was... umm.. interesting. They had larva and worms in formaldahyde for the presentation. Then there were cocoons everywhere! EW. If you know me, I can't stand the word cocoon, let alone seeing them in buckets. It was soooo gross. John even made a comment afterwards that seeing the process of making silk made him not want to buy anything. Shawn and I ended up buying an authentic, traditional Chinese silk dress. But we had been looking for one since Japan.

Next, was the Silk Embroidery factory. All of us were so sick of factories by this time that we were like "here we go". But we were amazed! They did the embroidery by eye and by hand from a piece that an artist drew up. The time it took (months) and detail was incredible. Shawn's favorite were the animal ones, the best was the Lion (photo). My favorite was a water scene (photo), which turned out to cost close to $40,000!


Anonymous said...

Hi Kristine! It's Lisa from McPA, I am keeping up with your blog and it looks like you're having a blast, keep updating the blog, it's awesome and the pics are great.

Stay in touch (and stay safe!), Lisa

Anonymous said...

Hey guys. Love the blog and the pictures. Looks like you are really enjoying yourselves. Larry has a DHL check that is not direct deposit and wants to know who to give it to. It is going to be void within 90 days. Can you email me at Have fun!!!