Homes and Tombs

Nicholas Quirke was never happier than when exploring relics and tombs and on 20 July 2021 he got his fill starting with a visit to Beijing Park and the Zhaoling Mausoleum. The rise of the Manchurian Quing Dynasty was established in Shenyang and consequently it became the one of the burial place of the royal family. Though his main reason for visiting the park was to see the Qing tomb it still a required a walk through the park where, as usual in China’s he encountered people exercising by walking, slapping arms and using the free gym equipment provided. He also stumbled across another set of tombs that appeared to be for some CCP dignitary. The Zhaoling tomb itself, the final resting place of the second Qing emperor, Hong Taiji, and his empress Xiaoduanwen was built between 1643 and 1651. It had a small sacred path with a row of animal statues leading to it and is largest of the three imperial tombs north of the great wall. The area around the tomb was originally set aside for imperial use and ordinary people were forbidden entry. This forbidden area was opened to the public in 1928. It was another gloriously sunny day and his walk around the tomb complex proved to be a lot of fun and was once again marked by photographs with various families along the way. The temple walls were high, with a walkway set on top of them and each corner was marked with a small tower and two larger towers standing over the north and south gates of the temple area. He enjoyed himself by making a time lapse video of himself covering the walls and towers and beyond the altar building the wall of the tomb mound itself. To his disappointment the underground tomb remains sealed, its contents hidden from view, wherein lies Emperor Huang Taji, his consorts and a multitude of priceless offerings. He continued too walk to the south of the park through the lake area and a particularly lively dancing session. As he would be on a train heading back to Beijing in the evening he decided to have lunch and found a suitable noodle restaurant to eat at relatively close to the Mukden Palace. He enjoyed the food and then returned briefly to his hotel to check out and report that the curtain rail had come down when he had opened them that morning. He set off to the former imperial palace of the early Manchu-led Qing dynasty. It was built in 1625, and the first three Qing emperors lived there from 1625 to 1644 and in 1638 the future Shunzhi Emperor, the ninth son of Hung Taiji was born there and he was able to see the exact room, recreated where the auspicious event took place. The Palace was built to resemble the Forbidden City in Beijing. However, it also exhibits hints of Manchu and Tibetan styles. After the Qing dynasty replaced the Ming dynasty in 1644 in Beijing, the Mukden Palace lost its status as the official residence of the Qing emperor and became a regional palace.. The collections of the museum are based on the Qing imperial collection, including porcelain, enamel, lacquerware, sculpture, calligraphy and painting, weaving embroidery, and unsurprisingly timepieces which he had already seen a vast collection in the Forbidden City itself He enjoyed seeing the opera pavilion and the many rooms and buildings the compound had to offer and was surprised and oddly delighted to discover the Emperors toilet. He treated himself to two palace and lion shaped ice lollies and an iced tea before leaving the confines of the beautiful courts. He still had time for a tea and Peng had found a stylish cafe close to his hotel. He made himself comfortable in an area where he was the only occupant. He had a lovely view through the open window of the long room and got irritated when two customers who could have sat at any window chose the seats directly in front of him blocking his chosen sight. He moved purposefully making sure they were aware of his annoyance to get another view through another window. He did some work but he didn’t have long to enjoy his tea before going back to the hotel to collect his baggage and get to the train station to begin the return to Beijing. The journey was smooth though the girl in the seat next to him tried to say that her seat was the window and she proved to be quite rude and aggressive on learning that he was correct. He felt so exhausted by the trip he had been on and was looking forward to some rest. His train arrived at Chaoyang, the one mainline station in Beijing he had not been to which, was relatively new and did not have a subway that served it, meaning he had to get a Didi home. Once he was home he unpacked, showered and in desperate need of a good nights sleep went to bed.

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