Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pictures of the Forbidden City – Beijing China

Another item on our “must see” list is of course, the Forbidden City!

The Forbidden City, or Palace as it is sometimes referred to, is in the middle of Beijing. For about 500 years it was the Imperial Palace. The place is not small, with 800 buildings, 8000 plus rooms, and covering 720,000 square meters. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1977 as the "Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties".

The Imperial Palace is located directly to the north of Tiananmen Square and is accessible from the square via Tiananmen Gate. The Palace Museum is one of the most popular tourist spots in the world now. As you can tell from some of the photos with the scaffolding, they are renovating it. The Olympics was coming up…

When we visited there was a Starbucks coffee shop on the grounds, but it was pretty controversial and was removed in 2007.

There won’t be a lot of narrating because we never got around to captioning the photos… and now I don’t remember what was what. This will be more of just a slide show.

 The Entrance to the Forbidden City that we used.

The throne in the Palace of Heavenly Purity

And this is the other end of the Forbidden City. And that's all for this blog or slide show...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Pictures of the Great Wall of China – Orient Cruise on the Star Sapphire

One of the places I never thought I would be visiting was the Great Wall of China, until we decided to take a cruise to the Orient. 

Our trip to the great wall was actually after the cruise had ended. The Cruise finished up at Beijing, where we would be spending a couple of more days before flying home. It turned out pretty good. We inquired at the hotel about seeing the great wall, and they told us it was no problem to get a private tour to the wall.

We ended up with a guide and a car with a driver to take us to the wall, about an hour or so from Beijing. The cost was about the same as if we had taken one of the bus tours.

It was great. Having the guide right there with us was wonderful. We asked her all kinds of stuff and she was very informative. They took us to a part of the Great Wall of China that required us to take a cable car up to the wall… from what we understood it was a less-often visited part. Whatever… it worked out well for us.

The drive was very interesting. I’ve never seen such big power line towers. Those things were HUGE! It seemed to us that everything being built was really big. Big power line towers, big apartment buildings, big highways…

We knew we were getting close to the wall when we spotted the street vendors selling tourist type stuff on the side of the road.

Huge power line towers… The reason for the darkness of the photo is AIR POLUTION! Amazing how dirty the air was. You could look right at the sun… like looking through smoked glass.

Looks pretty inviting doesn’t it?

purses, hats, umbrellas, stuffed panda bears… everything you could ever want. Those steps on the left lead up to the cable car.

The steps that lead up to the cable car.  Kathy had to take a little break...

This is a veiw from inside the cable car as we approach the great wall.

We made it!  Kath and I standing on the Great Wall of Chinal!

Notice that there are people actually walking way down there... looks like an ok walk going down... but you have to come back up...

Inside one of the little guard towers... The guards lived in these little guard houses...

Kathy poses with our guide...

This is what awaits you after you get off the cable car at the bottom...

Is there no end to the steps?  Yes these are fairly steep steps.

One last shop, and it's back to Beijing.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Visiting a Chinese Cloisonné Vase Factory and Market - Sapphire Princess Cruise

On our return trip from visiting the Great Wall of China, we stopped at a factory and market where they make cloisonné vases.

It was interesting to discover that they start with a copper vase that is hammered into shape over a mold. There numerous steps, gluing on tiny little pieces of copper, then filling them with ceramic material and firing them, etc. and then painted and polished. Making a cloisonne vase is a lot of intensive work.

Naturally I got some photos of each of the steps to making a cloisonné vase and at the end of our tour, guess what! Yep a cloisonné vase store!  Wait till you see how big some of those vases are.
So here are the cloisonné pics...
This is just inside the gates of the factory.  All the little rooms around the square house little workshops were the various steps are being followed to make the vases.

Here we go... Start with a copper vase hammered out to the shape you want.

They have some inventory

 Looks like the cloisenne vases are in various stages of progress 

Here some workers are gluing the little pieces of copper to the vases.

More craftsmen using tweezers to glue the bits of copper to the copper blanks.

See the little pile of copper bits she is picking up with her tweezers...

Here is where the ceramic matgerial is filled into the surface of the vases.

Modern mechanized well lit factory....  well at least there weren't any kids working...

These have been filled and fired once, but they still have a ways to go..

Fired and filled twice....

This is the oven where they do the firing.

This is where the vases are polished after being fired.

Filled and fired and awaiting more filling and firing

And finally this is what you end up with... cloisonné vases!

 This was not a small shop...  doesn't much resemble the cloisonné vase factory.

A very large vase!

Quite a bit of detail... and after seeing how they make these things I'm double impressed.

How many years worth of work do they have here? Incredible!

Not just vases... all kinds of stuff.

Kathy was of course, compelled to make a few purchases.

And now you know how to make your own cloisonné vase!