May 3, 2021 – China 1995 Trip

Our son was always intrigued by the Great Wall of china. He mentioned it often and expressed a desire to see it up close and personal, more than once. We told him when he was quite young that when he turned 15, we would take him. We supposed that he would forget the idea in time. He did not.

Father and son at the Great Wall in 1995.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang started the creation of the great wall in the third century B.C. to keep out barbarians. I guess in our case, it failed. The Great Wall of China is 13,171 miles long and is one of the few man made creations that can be seen from space. The original Great Wall was created over 20 years. The Great Wall that we see today was created over 200 years during the Ming Dynasty. Did you know that rice flower was mixed in the mortar to make it stronger and last longer? The wall’s foundation in the Gobi desert was built using twigs from red willows and sand and then firmly tamped down. Stones in the mountains were used to build the wall up in the mountains and soil was packed hard to make bricks in some places. The materials near by dictated the method of construction. Bricks were used as the technology became available in the Tang Dynasty in 618-907 A.D. Some parts of the Great Wall have been washed away by centuries of wind and rain.

Imperial palace

The Forbidden City is the location of the Imperial Palace. The Forbidden city was constructed from 1406 to 1420.It was the Chines Imperial Palace and winter residence of the Emperor of China from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty between 1420 and 1924. There are 980 buildings made up of 8,886 rooms and covering 720,000 square meters. It is the largest collection of ancient wood structures in the world. It is said to be the most expensive palace and piece of real estate in the world. The Emperor’s residence was built facing north and toward the North Star, as an earthly foil to the heavenly Purple Palace. Thus it was considered a divine place and ordinary people were not allowed.The Summer palace called Zhongnanhai, is larger.

The Dragon Throne

The Dragon was the emblem of divine imperial power. The Throne of the Emperor who was a living god, was called the Dragon Throne. Is there a royal still living? Yes. Jin Yuzhang is a civil servant, politician and former nobleman. Yuzhang is an heir to the Qing emperors and is the nominal head of the House of Aisin Gioro, the former ruling noble house of Qing Dynasty of China.

Empress is the female equivalent, and may indicate an emperor’s wife (emperor’s consort), mother(empress dowager), or a woman who rules in her own right.

Only one woman has ever sat on the throne in her right. She was Wu Zetian (624-705) of the Tang Dynasty. She killed her own daughter, to have the official empress deposed.

The Ming Tombs

The Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty are located in the Changping District of Beijing. The are was chosen with the use of feng shui by the third Emporor, The Yongole Emperor. The Emperor picked his burial site after the construction of the Forbidden City was completed in 1420. The Emperors that followed, followed suite. The first Ming Emperor’s tomb is near his capital, Nanjing.

The Pandas

We did see the pandas. They are a cute but suspicious creature. They trust no one and will take your finger if offered. They remind me of some people I have met, cunning but cute as a button. Beware, pandas cannot be trusted.

This is Tiananmen Square in 1995. It is much bigger than it looks and can hold hundreds of thousands of people. It is named after the eponymous Tiananmen gate is a monumental gate located in the city center of Beijing. It is the entrance gate to the Imperial City. The word means The Gate of Heavenly Peace. It was built in the Ming dynasty in 1420. It is often used as a national symbol. The haze in the air is not smog. At this time there were few cars in China. the haze is dust being blown in from the Gobi Desert.

On of our tour guide made a point to tell us that she and her husband each had an apartment before they were married. After they were married, they rented one of the apartments out. At this time, this was a big no no and it was kept secret.

We had many fine meals in China and I was convinced that I would eat snake at one meal. I entered a restaurant one evening and the lobby was filed with straw baskets moving slightly from side to side and there were noises coming from them. When I asked what was inside, they answered snakes, of course. That was my big chance.

I did not eat a snake. That chance I did not take. I wished to make no mistake. I will never eat a snake. R.C. Hand

I will add more to this entry as time permits.

If you like things Asian, read my novel, “Kazu, Son of Oshida Kamasaki.” It is an interesting tale of intrigue and romance in a fictional Asian Kingdom.