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Ming tombs


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Monday 25th March. Day 104
Tea and biscuits.
 Chonwenman by 8 o’clock to catch a luxurious coach for the tour. DSC0000202.jpgFirst stop is the Valley of Emperors Tombs, all from the Ming dynasty. Only one has been excavated and that took three years in the 1950s. The setting is remarkable, they chose a valley 50 km north of Beijing where the mountains and built a dam to make a beautiful lake and then had a long approach road made. On the far slopes large walled gardens shaped like a giant keyhole mark the site of each Emperor’s tomb. We visit Ding Ling’s. The round part of the keyhole is a vast walled mound of earth planted with trees. Underneath were discovered the vaults and treasures. Built of marble blocks with swinging marble doors to each room all some 12 feet high. The Tombs are virtually empty now, some fine gold crowns, cloth and other artifacts remain in a little museum. The approach to the giant burial mound is through a series of garden squares marked by giant gates which are also large pavilions with ornate encrusted yellow glazed tiled roofs raised on tall solid wooden pillars 1 meter in diameter. Magnificent. Very similar in style to the Forbidden City. The long approach road to this site is characterised by little marble bridges and a series of huge stone animals.

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Next the coach climbs into the bleak snowy mountains to the great Wall. Great! It weaves and wiggles over the scenery, sticking to the steepest parts. Swarming with tourists and Tee shirts touts who charge outrageous prices and only take FEC!! It is an extraordinary day, brilliant blue skies. Walk with Ron in the steepest direction as less people. Get as far as the unrestored section which is crumbling. It really is quite extraordinary to see it marching away over the mountains, not around or between, but over.
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Spend two hours here. Back by half past four. Meet some others at the Quaiman Peking Duck restaurant, joining in the chaos in the cheap room. Get a table surprisingly quickly. Share a half duck with Ron, it comes with a large bowl of soup, plus a jug of the restaurants beer, 8 Y each.
 Afterwards we go to the train station and Ron gets my ticket using his student card no questions asked. Hard seat to Xian 37 Y. I have heard that some genuine students are having difficulties getting discounts, also news of two tourists being arrested for changing money. The current blackmarket rate is 100/170. Sew the poppers back on my jacket, the boisterous bus and ticket queues were too much for them.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:23 Archived in China

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