The "Center Empire" is really worth a visit, although if you do not agree with the political situation over there. Unfortunately a lot of treasures of the ancient empire were destroyed during the culture-revolution. But what is still present is overwhelming. Alone the Emperorīs Palace at Beijing, for which you should spend a whole week, is worth the journey. But the Summer-Palace of the Empress Dowager, the Sun- Temple, then Ming- Tombs, the Great Wall too!
Our jouney then leaded us from Beijing to Xi`an, the town at the beginning of the famous silk- road, which was the residence of the emperors long before Beijing was. Next station was Guilin, already rather far in the south of China. The cone-shaped limestone mountains over there bring you to totally strange, mystic world. Our trip continued via Guangzhou to Hongkong, which then still belonged to Great- Britain. That means from the rural idyl of Guilin and Guangzhou into the bustle of this town with its skyscrapers, the low- approaching Jumbo-Jets, the boatpeople and so on! A culture shock!
But China has impressed us so much that we returned to Beijing one year later to get aquainted with that town on our own, without a leader and without a fixed program. And this journey too was really phantastic!

The "Forbidden City", the emperorīs palace in Beijing has enormous dimensions. Itīs really o town of its own (it has an area of nearly 180 acres and 9999 rooms!)
Because a lot of wood was used, everywhere huge fire-buckets with heating-facilities are positioned, wich were of course gilded in the inner area of the palace!

A (very) small part of the Forbidden City

One of those huge fire- buckets
In the middle of the Forbidden City there is the palace Tai He Dian, which was used only at most important occasions. No one except the emperor was allowed to use the stairs in the middle.
A throne is of course found in each of those innumerable palaces.

The main palace Tai He Dian

The emperorīs throne in the main palace
Left of the palaces there were the living rooms of the emperorīs family, on the right side those of the emperorīs concubines.
The first entrance into the Forbidden City is the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tian an men) and in front of it the Square of Heavenly Peace which got a tragical fame in 1989 when a demonstration suppressed in a very bloody manner.

A road to the residential areas

The Tian an men and the Tian an men -square
In the large- scaled Summerpalace the empress dowager ordered to build a schip of stone. And from where she took the money? Out of the navyīs budget of course!
The Suntemple was reseved to special regious ceremonies, where the emperor presented himself godlike to the people on a plate which figured the heaven.

The stone-made ship in the summerpalace

The main- pagode of the suntemple
The entrance into the valley of the Ming- tombs is presented by an alley of stone-made ghost statues. Each statue has its own meaning. The animal statues among them are seen always twice: standig for the day and lying for the night.
Each of the tombs consists in a big construction of temples an a big hill behind which is actually the tomb.

A ghost-statue at the alley of the death

The tomb of the first Ming-emperor
The Great Wall, which has a lenght of more than 6000 km is really an impressive building. Itīs incredible, how people were able to build this wall beyond mountains and valleys But it isnīt everywhere stone-made. On plain areas where they didnīt find enough stones, it was made of wood and is nearly ruined nowadays.
The Great Wall

... and in front my little wife
At Xi`an in the year 1974 the terracotta-army of probably 600 soldiers was discovered by chance. It was destined for protecting the tomb of the first emperor of China.
The impressive is that there are no two statues which are looking equal. Even the lineaments of the different races where considered.

A part of the terracotta- army

A soldier of the terracotta-army
A special event is a tour by ship on the river Li in the vicinity of Guilin. Here you drive through an area with phantastic formed, nearly mystical looking limestone mountains. In ancient times this area lay below the sealevel and originated from a coral-reef.
The "sugar-loafs" near Guilin

Four bamboo canes and the boat is ready
Cormoran-fischermen are seen everywhere at the Li-river. They put rings around the cormoranīs necks and then let them catch fish. But due to that ring they can only eat the smaller fish. The bigger ones get stuck in the throat and are taken away by the fishermen.
Cormoran- fischermen at work...

...and ready for tourists fotos (for money)
HongKong. The "fragrant harbor". But today it does no longer smell as good as it perhaps did earlier.
But this town which was build on this rocky island because of its strategic good position is still overwhelming. In former times only pirates lived on this island (some people say still today a lot of pirates would live here :-)))

View from Victoria Peak to Hongkong Island

and to Kowloon on the mainland (Backgr.)
The "Dschunkes"-harbour Aberdeen; the harbour where the wellknown boatpeople live on their boats.The whole life happens on the water. But the number of boats decreases because decayed boats may not be repaired. The inhabitants then are billeted on small apartments.
"Dschunkes" und "Sampanes"

The swimming "Jumbo"-restaurant
Famous and notorious was the approach to airport "Kai Tak", when the aircraft flew shortly above houses and even between scyscrapers. Only special airlines pilots were allowed to approach this airport. Nowadays the new Airport on the island Lantaui is in use.
Approaching the Airport "Kai Tak"

The wellknown street view in Kowloon

By the way a little story:
In Beijing the bicycle is still the generally used conveyance; there are about 9 million bicycles in use.
But now the chinese minister of transport has decided, that the front light and the rear light of so many bicycles could dazzle or at least irritate the cardrivers. So every lighting at bicycles was forbidden. In deepest nights these millions of bicycles drive through Beijing totally dark and nearly invisible!!!!
Did you manage to cross a road winding between the cars, you still have good chances to go to the dogs by a biker you simply couldnīt see.