Sunday, 18 November 2012

Autumn stroll, in the heart of Seoul!

On Sunday morning, with beautiful autumn weather, trees showing us breathtaking colors, we leave the house for a walk close to the base. We take the time to climb the “Hyatt Mountain”, in the city area called Itaewon and discovered many Embassies, beautifully situated on this mountain. The mountain is rather steep, although not as steep as Nam San Mountain, but still presenting beautiful views and different levels of living quarters.

Anders, who mainly is at the border to North Korea, should also have impressions of the surrounding we actually live in. So we left the Base at the “Kimchi pot Gate” and enjoy the climb up to the Hyatt Hotel and down!

Here some of the views we enjoyed!

Hyatt Hotel in the background and....


Namsan Tower to the West

Anders looking down hill.


About 30% downgrade!



Above and below taken on Yongsan Base!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Beijing....following days!

After a cold and an unexpected snowy weather experience, it was dry and we even saw a weak sun. The following days turned into really nice autumn weather. It definitely made strolling around in the city easier and the sites more lovely.
Now we had a more official part of our stay in Beijing but also a chance for more cultural and historical learning. Shopping and just looking to all the vivid and exotic markets filled with many foreigners but mainly Chinese people.

We met with the Swedish Ambassador and his staff,
walked for hours through the diplomatic area and returned to our hotel. Then for me the most surprising day came for…..

Although my primary wish was to see the Great Chinese Wall during our visit in Beijing, I must say that the Summer Palace took my breath away. The nature surrounding the fabulous buildings is beautiful and a variety of palaces, gardens and classical-style of architectural structures is unbelievable. The buildings are not only interesting but also fabulously decorated with fantastic details. If you ever decide to go to Beijing this is without a doubt very worthwhile visiting and easy to get to by subway, Line 4 Beigongmen station.




 The Summer Palace (literally "Gardens of Nurtured Harmony") is a palace mainly dominated by Longevity Hill (about 60 meters, 200 feet) and the Kunming Lake (covering 2.2 square kilometers). It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water.

The Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), commissioned the work on the imperial gardens on the hill in 1749, and gave Longevity Hill its present-day name in 1752, in celebration of his mother's 60th birthday.

The Summer Palace started out life as the 'Garden of Clear Ripples' in 1750. Artisans reproduced the garden architecture styles of various palaces in China. The palace complex suffered two major attacks—during the Anglo-French allied invasion of 1860 and during the Boxer Rebellion, in an attack by the eight allied powers in 1900. The garden survived and was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902. In 1888, it was given the current name, Yihe Yuan. It served as a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cizi, who diverted 30 million taels of silver, said to be originally designated for the Chinese navy, into the reconstruction and enlargement of the Summer Palace.

This diversion of funds away from military sources came just six years before the first, First Sino-Japanese War, which China lost.

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design.

The Forbidden City, is not far located from Tian’anmen Square and gigantic. Both historical sites and the surroundings with their wonderful small streets and shops is a great way to spend a full day. I give you here some historical facts but mainly pictures, which hopefully give you a small inside of the places we had the possibility to visit. Besides all the unbelievable sites, we had a wonderful time being together.








The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost 500 years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government.

Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 720,000 m2 (7,800,000 sq ft). The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

The common English name, "the Forbidden City", is a translation of the Chinese name Zijin Cheng (Chinese: ) The Forbidden City, as the residence of the terrestrial emperor, was its earthly counterpart. Jin, or "Forbidden", referred to the fact that no-one could enter or leave the palace without the emperor's permission. Cheng means a walled city.

Today, the site is most commonly known in Chinese as Gùgōng (), which means the "Former Palace".

Then of cause we took a day to walk on the Tiananmen Square and Wangfujing Street…………….. come and take a look with me J
It's all too much to give you a justified impression but truthfully it's very impressive!


Having been active in the bathroom business for many years, I couldn't deprive you from this picture.... Notice the gap in the trousers....making it easy for the toddler to do his/her business and saving diaper costs!

Tiananmen Square is a large City square in the center of Beijing, named after the Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) located to its North, separating it from the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the third largest city square in the world (440,000 m² - 880 by 500 meters - 960 by 550 yards). It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history.

Outside China, the square is best known in recent memory as the focal point of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, a pro-democracy movement which ended on June 4th 1989 with the declaration of martial law in Beijing by the government and the death of several hundred civilians.
The Tiananmen Gate to the Forbidden City was built in 1415 during the Ming Dynasty. Towards the demise of the Ming Dynasty, heavy fighting between Li Zicheng and the early Qing emperors damaged (or perhaps destroyed) the gate. The Tiananmen square was designed and built in 1651, and has since enlarged four times its original size in the 1950s.

For me, this square, the buildings around it, the financial street in Beijing was a flash back to my decade spend working in Russia’s major cities. Much was in the same trend, no not the old Ming Dynasty buildings but most definitely the buildings from the 50’s or later, all the flags and the immense space being used to build the city.

Touristic places, having a drink or just popping into a side street, it all was fabulous to experience!

And we saw police everywere...........

10,000,000 Bicycles
in Beijing???

On my way to the public toilet.........


The modern Beijing!

Fitting booth!

Marketing.... No not in PR but in going to the market for shopping! 

"Red meeting..."
It was absolutely marvelous!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Beijing, first two days...

Living in Seoul means as well that we’ve the possibility to visit”nearby” countries. Our second visit outside the Republic of Korea went to Beijing, which is only a two hour flight from Seoul.
Beijing, (Chinese for:”the Northern Capitol”) is the capitol of the Republic of China since October 1949. (Which it has been during different periods) The total population of the administrative area of the city is 19.6 million (2010), in central Beijing 7.6 million people (2007) are registered.


This city is Chinas political and cultural centre, while Shanghai still is mentioned to be the countries economical center.

Few cities have had so many different names as Peking.

First time this city was mentioned was the year 1121 BC and was named Ji. Afterwards the city was named Yan, a name still used by Chinese poets. Between 618 and 1424 the city had many different names (about eight), but during Yongle’s rule, 1403-1424 (a later emperor of the Ming dynasty) his residence was move to Peking, and the city became the capitol.

The name change from Peking to Beijing depends on the pronunciation, for the first one was influenced by the French Catholic missionaries in the 17th century. Today most of the world countries pronounce the name as Beijing.

We arrived shortly after the worst snow weather the area had seen since 61 years. Well installed at our hotel we discovered that internet access was limited and I had no access to Facebook or my blog site, the 38th Parallel. We learned from our guide that the last two mentioned were stopped in 2010. However, Instagram was accessible, what some of you noticed.

This immense city, being very modern and spiced with lots of culture, going back thousands of years, gives its inhabitants and visitors plenty to see, do and learn. Although, nor the Koreans or the Japanese like to hear it, we recognized many similarities.

Please join me for some of the fabulous sites we’ve seen, the things we have done and the thoughts we had.

Our major mean of transportation, fabulous and 2 RNB for any destination, Hongqiao Pearl Market! First stop, Line 10 from Liangmaqiao to Guomao, change to line 4 to Dongdan, change to Line 1 to Ciqikou.
We started up with purchasing umbrella's....

One street behind the major road to "Pearl Heaven"

Friendly, smiling and no..... negotiating!!!

Hudge, exiting and.....exhausting!




Many strings later.....

time to look around in this large colorful place... but why did I buy the stamp??? "I don't know John!"

Keeping Anders happy before we go to the Temple of Heaven......

"Warmed" by a cold beer and a hot bowl of soup, we walked to the Temple of Heaven. A beautiful park, with very few people strolling, lead us to the actual temple.

30 metres in diameter!

The Temple of Heaven (build 1420), literally the Altar of Heaven, (in simplified Chinese: ), is a complex of religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing, (not far from “Pearl Heaven”). The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It has been regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese Heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taois.


The trees in the 675 acres park, are as old as 500 years!!!

The following day, time time had come to visit one of the sites of the Great Wall, one of my wishes to see in the world!

What road to take.....Hmm how many are there?

But first a visit to " JINSHANLING coffee shop".
A short walk before climbing upwards and walking for an 1.5 hours on
"The Great Wall"!


Let history be felt.
.....Some history!

Many, many man hours for the building of the Great Wall!
What a view, what a historical place!



Breath taking!!!

The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forces. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC these, later joined together and made bigger, stronger, and unified are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall. Especially famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced; the majority of the existing wall was reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty.

Other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration. Furthermore, the defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means of smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor.

The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 miles). This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 miles) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 miles) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km (13,171 miles).

Proof .... we did walk on the historical "Great Chinese Wall".

To be continued........................