Around Beijing to The Great Wall of China

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The Summer Palace

Gateway To The Summer Palace

Cixi's Opera House

 

Along the shore of lake Kunming runs a 728 meter lavishly decorated corridor.  Many paintings replacing those whitewashed during the 'cultural' revolution
We were surprised to hear Russian Folk songs emanating from a Chinese pavilion. An impromptu choir assembles here most days under the leadership of a retired choirmaster
Qingyan Fang
Originally this marble boat anchored in Kunming Lake had a wooden pavilion but it burned leaving only the hull.  Thirty years later the Empress Dowager Cixi had it rebuilt in a Western style to provide herself with a platform to relax and be entertained.  She used funds embezzled from the navy   Flushed with success she took even more money to rebuild the Summer Palace, again under the guise of naval development

  The boat did belong to the navy but at is could not float it was of no use to them.   Seven years later the under funded fleet was lost in battle

 
Bejing Opera

Beijing Opera is quite unlike European opera.  There is music, singing, recitation, dancing, martial arts and acrobatics.  Our special tourist version of traditional Beijing opera lasted about an hour.    It was an amazing performance but an hour was probably long enough for our Western ears

Masks hung in the Hotel Qianmen lobby and tea and snacks were served during the performance

Unlike Cixi we didn't have the luxury of a private three storey opera house with trap doors and pulley allowing the action to spill over all three levels simultaneously.  We were happy to make do with the Liyuan Theatre in our very own Qianmen Hotel

 

 
Backstage makeup lifts the eyes and eyebrows, thereby indicating the age, sex and personality of the Character
Beijing Opera dates back to 1790.   In Feudal times women did not perform on stage, as a result their roles were undertaken by males.  Women remained excluded until the 1920s when a new era of emancipation encouraged the first female singers to take on male roles while men continued to perform female rolls.  Much like traditional British pantomime

The stage is bare of scenery, the performers bodily movements or people holding props set the scene.  Status is indicated by headdress, costume and boots.  The holding of a whip means riding a horse, while carrying an oar means taking a boat.   Naturally there is a photo op backstage for patrons

Silver In Storage:  There is a translation on screens at either side of the stage but I was too caught up in the action to pay much attention.  I do however know the name of this opera

 

A Domadan playing the swordswoman kicked and threw 8 pikes keeping them constantly moving through the air.  Three warriors caught and threw them back to her.  An amazing feat (no pun intended)
Great Wall Of China at Mutianyu and on to Huang Hua Cheng (Yellow Flower Village)
Though heavily restored and catering to a mass influx of tourists this section was not as busy as others close to the city.  We quickly left most visitors behind as we struck out along the wall.   Only parties of school children had more energy than us 
In late April the spring blossoms were in bloom but the weather was miserable and visibility poor

The easy way up

 

Local farmers masquerading as Mongol warriors love to scare visitors by leaping out of the watchtowers at their approach.  They play their parts with such gusto that is impossible to resist the photo op
 

The easy way down

Huang Hua Cheng (Yellow Flower Village)
An un-restored section of wall rising up from a reservoir at the side of the road.  In 2000 there were no ticket sellers, no guardrails or other tourists.  The path is steep, a combination of steps, loose rock and gravel.   Jasmine tried hard to find us a wild section to walk but decided this was potentially too dangerous and I read later there had been fatalities at some of the more unstable sections around the village which is now firmly on the tourist trail
 

Plan B.  Jasmine asked if we could visit with the villagers at the side of the reservoir and we arrived here at the home of an elderly lady
We then came across Mrs Zhu Tingqun and Mr. Lu Yucai who stopped stripping  willow leaves in order to invite us into their home for apples from their tree and tea.  He is a farmer she the local seamstress and hairdresser  

After tea they changed clothes to have their picture taken.  A dull day made special by a chance meeting with a lovely couple

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