3rd Day in BEIJING

Third day in Beijing is rather relaxing, less walking for the day because we took a hutong ride (胡同游). Places that we have visited:

  1. Beihai park 北海公园
  2. Former residence of Song Qing Ling 宋庆龄同志故居
  3. Nine-gate Fast Food 九门小吃
  4. Prince Gong’s Mansion 恭王府
Well, located in the center of Beijing, Beihai Park is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved ancient imperial gardens (御花园) in China. Existed throughout the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties, most of the buildings now in Beihai were constructed during Emperor Qianlong’s reign. The park occupies an area of 69 hectares including a 39-hectare lake.

Fang Shan Fan Zhuang (仿膳饭庄) is located in the park, it was opened in 1925 by chefs who used to work in ‘royal kitchen’. They are serving a lot of rare imperial treats like 满汉全席…

The well-known Nine-Dragon Screen, which is the only screen having nine huge dragons on both sides among the most famous 3 in China (the other 2 are respectively in the Forbidden City & Datong, Shanxi Province).

It was built in 1756, stood at 27 x 6.65 x 1.42 meters. It is composed of 424 seven-color glazed tiles that embossing the screen. There are nine huge coiling dragons on each side of the screen and big or small dragons in different postures decorating the two ends, making a surprising total of 635 dragons. Even after 200 years, the Nine-Dragon Screen is still bright in color and complete in appearance, showing the high techniques of Chinese arts and crafts in ancient times.

White Dagoba (白塔寺) was built in 1651 as a gesture of devotion to the Buddhist faith. It is a Buddhist tower in Tibetan style and the famous landmark of both Beihai Park & Beijing.

We had some snack at the exit of Beihai Park…

After Beihai walk, we took hu tong ride, the first stop is the Former Residence of Song Qing Ling.

Song Qing Ling was second wife of Sun Yat Sen, founder of the Republic of China and one of the famous “Soong sister”- her younger sister Mei Ling was married to Chiang Kai Shek and older sister Ai Ling was married to H.H. Kung, finance minister for the Kuomintang. She became an influential political figure in China after her husband’s death.

We visited her living room where she held meetings with Mao Ze Dong and Zhou En Lai. Also, her kitchen, study room, etc.

During the lunch time, we asked the paddlecab man to take us to Jiu Men Xiao Chin (九门小吃), it was just 5 minutes ride from Song Qing Ling’s place.

When you get there, the first thing is to buy an electronic pay card at the cashier’s counter. Next, pick up your tray and utensils and hop around the booth to select the dish you like, they will deduct the price from your card, sometimes asking you to return in 5 minutes for your food to be cooked.

We tried rolling donkey (驴打滚), pea-flour cake (豌豆黄), fried lotus root (炸莲藕), and others which am not quite sure what was that…

One of my favorite snack: sugar-coated cherry on a stick (冰糖葫芦)

On the way to Prince Gong’s Mansion…Willow Alley (柳树胡同)

Consisting of large mansions in the typical siheyuan (四合院) laylout and gardens, Prince Gong’s Mansion is known as one of the most ornate and extravagant residence compounds in Beijing! It is also one of the most exquisite and best-preserved royal mansions in Beijing and used to house several families, and has a total area of 60,000 square metres. In addition, there is a 28,000 square metres garden, with twenty scenic spots, pavilions, artificial hills including rock originating from the Taihu Lake in Jiangsu, and ponds.

The most interesting part of the garden is a 8 meter long stele which has the character 福 (fu: good fortune), carved based on the calligraphy of Emperor Kangxi on it. It was a stolen 福… this 福 is known to be 天下第一福. Because differ from others Emperors, the calligraphy characters left by Kangxi is rare and this 福 is one of a kind. It is one of the best character written by Kangxi, it contains “多子、多才、多田、多寿、多福”. Have a look =p

The history goes back to Kangxi’s sick mother…during her 60th birthday, she felt sick and Kangxi a filial son was worried and sad. He wrote a 福 and affix a seal on it with his jade seal “康熙御笔之宝”. In the Chinese Imperial history, an Emperor’s seal can only be used on government’s documents, but he did that, and seal it on top of the 福, meaning “鸿运当头,福星高照”. By all means, his mum getting better after receiving the 福.

Underneath the rock…this is where He Shen hide the 福. Everyone stood in queue to divine 福, we joined the queue and have a thorough feel of the stele and carry away plenty of 福 =p

The owner of Prince Gong’s Mansion is He Shen (和珅) who was one of the most trusted minister during Qianlong reign in the late Qing Dynasty. He got trust from the Emperor Qianlong during his young age and was able to make large promotion in the imperial administration. In turn, he became very wealthy! Because accusation of corruption, He Shen was executed and the mansion was confisticated in 1799, under the reign of Emperor Jiaqing in favor of Prince Qing Junwang, the 17th and youngest son of Emperor Qianlong.

We were told by the tour guide that the painted beams and windows were carved with bat (蝙蝠) symbol homophone the “福”.

Also, inclusive in the ticket, we got a chance to sit in He Shen’s theater room, sipping tea and munching on Chinese snacks while watching some performances.

Walking in his mansion…

This is the wall surrounding the mansion.

Our dinner:


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