China: Yunnan: #2 Yunnan University and Green Lake

After lunch, we wandered off into the grounds of Yunnan University.  Pleasant surroundings and very pleasant walking under a threatening sky, temperature in mid-20’s, humidity high. Located at an altitude of 1892m (6207 ft.) and just north of the Tropic of Cancer, Kunming is often referred to as the Eternal Spring City due mainly to its weather. I’ll let my photos tell the story!

DSC00763 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00763 © DY of jtdytravels

Yunnan University logo

DSC00754 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00754 © DY of jtdytravels

We wandered down a beautiful avenue of Ginkgo trees.

DSC00756 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00756 © DY of jtdytravels

A Faculty building – note the row of Zamia palms.

DSC00757 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00757 © DY of jtdytravels

A bell tower – note sick, leafless trees in front of the tower.

DSC00758 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00758 © DY of jtdytravels

The sick trees were being ‘treated’ by digging a hole, filling it with water and sprinkling a pink powder on the surface. What that was, I don’t know.

DSC00766 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00766 © DY of jtdytravels

This sick plane tree was hooked up to a drip!

DSC00759 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00759 © DY of jtdytravels

Colonial corridor in ‘The House of Huize’, built in 1923.

DSC00770 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00770 © DY of jtdytravels

Another old building – now a restaurant.

DSC00772 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00772 © DY of jtdytravels

Near the university is Green Lake which is surrounded by an attractive park. An ornate fence surrounds the lake.

A sign explained: “The Park was a beautiful bay on the Dianchi Lake before the Ming Dynasty and became a tourist resort at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty.  With an area of 21 ha. (52 ac.) the park is nowadays well-known for its richly ornamented traditional pavilions and palaces, blue waves and ripples, green willows, beautiful flowers, fair landscape and quiet elegance of its numerous scenes.”

DSC00798 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00798 © DY of jtdytravels

A patch of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) well established in a corner of the lake.

DSC00773 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00773 © DY of jtdytravels

Lotus flower… impossible to resist a photo of this beauty.

DSC00778 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00778 © DY of jtdytravels

Lotus flower opening up fully. Lovely contrast between petals and seed head.

DSC00775 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00775 © DY of jtdytravels

Fallen beauty

DSC00776 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00776 © DY of jtdytravels

A dried lotus seed head showing seeds about to be released

DSC00784 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00784 © DY of jtdytravels

Unusual purple flowers contrasting with their silver bracts.

DSC00780 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00780 © DY of jtdytravels

A seed-eating finch at home amongst the water plants.

DSC00795 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00795 © DY of jtdytravels

Avenue of bamboo.

DSC00794 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00794 © DY of jtdytravels

Bamboo graffiti

DSC00797 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00797 © DY of jtdytravels

Even the public loo (absolutely spotless) had a dado of bamboo images.

DSC00802 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00802 © DY of jtdytravels

A flower unknown to me!

DSC00804 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00804 © DY of jtdytravels

Walking back towards the apartment, we saw this street sweeper taking a break.

DSC00810 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00810 © DY of jtdytravels

Another sleepy-head !

DSC00810 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00810 © DY of jtdytravels

We passed a small street trolley selling beautiful red ‘crinkled’ capsicum…

DSC00809 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00809 © DY of jtdytravels

… and orange and green ones as well.

By then it was time for a break… a stop at a favourite haunt of my hosts for a coffee and half price cake (Thursday is the day for this treat).  All very pleasant, before we headed back to the apartment to sort out my washing… a much needed chore.

Kenzo cooked tea of steamed chicken and rice after which I gave myself over to diary writing on my computer. Otherwise it was the Chinese TV programmes.  They were no real distraction as I couldn’t understand a thing!  Bed and sleep came easily.

David

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China #10 Section 3 – Walk on the Wall (12/09/15)

This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves

I was up a bit before 06.00 on the morning of the third day of our Walk on the Wall. The sky was bright, and cloudless, but the sun hadn’t as yet risen. By the time I’d showered the sun was hitting a tower of The Wall that I could see from my room. All looked good for a wonderful day hiking along the section of the Wall known as Jinshanling.

How was I feeling after the past two days on the Wall? Well…I had some lactic acid to give away! Thighs in particular were quite stiff. Oh, what I wouldn’t have given for a good massage. And on this next section, Hero warned us, there were even more steps. Surely there couldn’t be! However, the good news… this part of the Wall is mostly restored. Not all, but most.

Breakfast was a bit different…  a “Chinese” breakfast. I think someone asked for it and good on them because we all ended up trying something most of us, if not all, won’t do again! So what did we have? Pickled who-knows-what (other than they were of three different kinds of plant material), a watery soup, cucumber, some oily pancakes, scone-sized puffy things that were made from the same stuff that steamed buns are made of, and a boiled egg or two.

And what did we think of that combination? Most of us left breakfast a little disappointed and still a tad hungry. Maybe we would walk better on some toast and Vegemite!

DSC00484 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00484 © DY of jtdytravels

At the start of this day’s walk there was an impressive bas relief.

It depicted life on the Wall in days long gone by.

DSC00486 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00486 © DY of jtdytravels

The Great Wall at Jinshanling was initially built from 1368 to 1389 and then rebuilt from 1567 and 1570 under the direction of the great General Qi Jiguang (1528–1588)… whose story I’ve told on the post for day one of the walk. So, yes, it is old.

DSC00490 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00490 © DY of jtdytravels

Just before we started the day’s walk, I bought a bottle of beer.  My son Peter had suggested that Chris, Julie and myself (all supported by Peter) should have a beer on the Great Wall. So, we did, quite early on in the morning, too.  I had no intention of carrying that bottle any further than I had to. I’d even remembered to put my bottle opener in my backpack and three glasses (plastic unfortunately). But having that beer was good fun.

DSC00492 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00492 © DY of jtdytravels

Taking the photos early on in the day was a doubly good idea as the air was still brilliantly clear. Cheers Pete! And thanks for your support.. and thanks to everyone else who supported our efforts to raise money for more Shaping Futures Scholarships at UoN.

DSC00495 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00495 © DY of jtdytravels

Julie and Chris checked their photos… all good… no retakes required.

DSC00498 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00498 © DY of jtdytravels

Beer drunk; time to get on with the day’s walk.

The challenge … 22 towers/beacons and 8km (5mi.) ahead of us.

DSC00494 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00494 © DY of jtdytravels

Not a lot of chance to stop for flower photography … but…

I couldn’t resist the beautiful light through the petals of this Convolvulus sp.

Most of you will know this flower as Morning Glory.

DSC00499 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00499 © DY of jtdytravels

Signs like these cropped up every now and then along the wall…

We were all very mindful of minding our steps!

DSC00500 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00500 © DY of jtdytravels

Crossing… not sure where. Graffiti… Certainly not!

DSC00501 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00501 © DY of jtdytravels

We plodded on, strung out like the proverbial Brown’s cows…

each one walking at their own pace.

DSC00503 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00503 © DY of jtdytravels

Although this day’s walk took us over mostly restored Wall, I found parts particularly difficult. There were quite long stretches of steeply sloping ramp which I found much harder to handle than steps, no matter how shallow, deep or irregular the steps were. There were also some very steep, long step sections. I don’t think photos, or even video, really show it as it is.

DSC00504 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00504 © DY of jtdytravels

Maybe this photo gives a better idea of the steepness. It was really hard work.

DSC00505 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00505 © DY of jtdytravels

According to the different terrain, the watchtowers were built in different shapes: some tall, some low;  some rectangular, some square; most with three to five ‘windows’.

DSC00508 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00508 © DY of jtdytravels

The Wall at Jinshanling has retained its original look since its construction several hundred years ago. It is relatively isolated and offers great views whichever way you look.

DSC00509 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00509 © DY of jtdytravels

Because this section of the Wall is a lot more accessible from Beijing than the earlier sections we’d walked, we encountered more people sharing the experience… even a smattering of Aussies along with other foreigners. ‘Twas strange to have to share the Wall.

DSC00510 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00510 © DY of jtdytravels

All signs were in Chinese and English with a graphic as well.

A fairly clear message, I would say,

DSC00513 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00513 © DY of jtdytravels

But … he’s a local and I guess old habits die hard.

DSC00512 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00512 © DY of jtdytravels

He was a drink seller… a long day, just sitting, hoping to make a sale.

DSC00514 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00514 © DY of jtdytravels

Some of the towers definitely made a dramatic statement.

DSC00515 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00515 © DY of jtdytravels

Looking back along the seemingly endless zig-zag of the Wall, we could all be very proud of our day’s effort.  But, when we finally finished our section of the Wall for the day, we were a little dismayed to find that it was still a long walk down to the bus park. On the way down, a hen pheasant ran across my path. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Himalaya and China but I’d never managed to see a pheasant in the wild before. So this was a bit special.

All we weary walkers climbed thankfully on board the bus at about 12.30. It was then just a 10 minute ride to the lunch stop, a family run business where all the food served was prepared from home grown organic produce. We had nine courses plus rice. Some of the courses were cauliflower and Spanish onion, an eggplant dish that was really good, some noodles etc. We had well and truly earned that meal and it was eaten with great relish.

DSC00518 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00518 © DY of jtdytravels

From there it was a two hour drive in the bus to our hotel for the night, in a city called Huairou. It’s on the outskirts of Beijing. Did I say outskirts? The centre of Beijing was, in actual fact, still 90 km away! Beijing is really BIG.

DSC00519 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00519 © DY of jtdytravels

The food looked good! Was good!  It was frog!  From memory the red are tomatoes and capsicum, the green: celery and the green berries on top are Sichuan peppers.

DSC00520 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00520 © DY of jtdytravels

Dinner time was a happy occasion after such a hard day’s walk on the Wall.

More anon

David

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China #6 Section 1 Walk on the Wall (10/09/2015)

This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves

http://www.everydayhero.com.au/event/50kmFor50Years

By now our team of seventeen had learned each other’s names, seen a little of Beijing and rested after the long flight from Australia. But the time had come to begin the task of testing ourselves on a tough five day walk along the Great Wall of China in our bid to raise funds to help students who are doing it tough in life while they study for their degree. 

So let the walk begin.

Entrance Sign DSC00364 © DY of jtdytravels

Entrance Sign DSC00364 © DY of jtdytravels

The Great Wall of China is 21,196 km in length. Yes! Twenty-one thousand one hundred and ninety-six kilometres (21,196km; or 13,170mi). That’s the precise total length of the Great Wall, the whole of which was included as a World Heritage Site in 1987. But, yes, you’re right. We weren’t going to attempt to walk all of that! In fact, this trek would cover approximately 50 km of the Wall. And then there were more kilometres to be walked up and down hills just to get onto and off the wall each day. We’d been warned that the parts of the Wall that we were to walk are not for the faint hearted; constant ups and downs; many, many steps of varying sizes and steepness of incline. Some restored parts; others parts we would find to be very rough.

We began our walk at the Taipingzhai Gate, part of the ‘Huangyaguan Great Wall’, located in a scenic but precipitous mountain area 120km from Beijing. This section of the Wall is 42 km (26 miles) long; constructed along a mountain ridge at an altitude of about 736 m (2,415 ft). It’s part of, but really just a fraction of, the 8,850 km (5,500 mi) of the wall that was built during the Ming dynasty(1368–1644). Everything about the wall is BIG.

DSC00368 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00368 © DY of jtdytravels

The very first set of steps tested our fitness. I, for one, was glad that I had trained hard.

Until 1987, much of the wall here was in a bad state of repair. However, from 1984 – 1987, the people of the nearby city of Tianjin repaired just over 3 km of the main wall. This was the section of the wall we traversed for this first day of our wall trek. This was to ‘break us into’ wall walking. It’s one thing to train on tracks and on roads, but these are steep steps!

DSC00366 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00366 © DY of jtdytravels

Scott celebrates making it to the watch tower at the top of the first set of steps.

This section of the Wall was begun during the Northern Qi Dynasty (550 – 557), that’s over 1,400 years ago.  In those days the wall was mainly built from locally sourced earth, stones and wood.  Such a wall could withstand attack by simple weapons like swords, spears and bows. However, over the years, warfare changed and by the time of the Ming Dynasty, (1368- 1644), gunpowder had become available. From then on methods of warfare changed radically. Soldiers began to use cannons and muskets. It became more and more obvious that a much more solid wall was needed.

DSC00361 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00361 © DY of jtdytravels

Statue of Qi Jiguang

In 1558, the chief commanding officer of the area’s garrison, Qi Jiguang, was charged with the task of repairing the wall with stone and bricks. He had six extra watch towers built which vary in style from square to round, and from solid to hollow; some inside the wall, others outside. The work was done by manual labour and many lives were lost.

Despite the loss of life and the extremely hard work in this difficult terrain, the local people felt so indebted to Commander Qi Jiguang for his great contribution to the peace and stability of the area, that they honoured him with an impressive statue.  I believe that this 8.5m statue is a newer statue placed at the start of this section of the wall, maybe at the completion of the reconstruction in the 1980s.

Qi Jiguang was revered not just a wall builder. In 1553, at the age of 26, before he started the wall reconstruction, he was given the task to “punish the bandits and guard the people”. In effect that meant taking on the “Japanese” pirates which were attacking China’s east coast. This part of the wall is not far from the coast.  A Biography of Qi Jiguang states that:

“When he started, the tide was against him for the local troops were inadequately manned, poorly trained and easily bested by the trained and armed pirates… (But) Qi lead his troops to victories even in situations where he was outnumbered. In the next ten years he kept the pressure up agains the pirates… He (eventually) defeated forces that had earlier decimated Chinese fighters by developing four innovations: he upgraded his equipment; began vigorous and organized troop training; strengthened his defensive tactics and trained for organized and concentrated manuevers.”

(http://www.plumpub.com/info/Bios/bio qijiguang.htm)

Apparently, Qi’s wife assisted in some of those manoeuvres! Her story is part of the book “Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women: Tang Through Ming, 618 – 1644” by Lily Xiao Hong Lee, Sue Wiles and M.E. Sharpe published in English in March 2014 (Amazon)

DSC00370 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00370 © DY of jtdytravels

Not all the remade sections were restored to the same degree. A bit tricky.

DSC00372 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00372 © DY of jtdytravels

” Stop and catch your breath” moments gave us time to enjoy the scenery.

DSC00369 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00369 © DY of jtdytravels

And, as usual, I was on the lookout for flowering plants.

DSC00373 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00373 © DY of jtdytravels

We were promised that this section was much easier than the rougher sections we would come to later in the week. But it was still not ‘a walk in the park’! It was still very much up and down hundreds of steps, following the ridge line. We were learning first hand that a trek on the Wall is not for the unfit or for the fainthearted! And this was just the first day.

DSC00374 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00374 © DY of jtdytravels

Signs along the way exhorted us to be careful and not to climb on the wall.

DSC00375 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00375 © DY of jtdytravels

It was strange to find ourselves walking on this historic Wall on our own.

We’d thankfully left the tourist hordes behind in Beijing.

And that was good… very good.

.

DSC00376 © DY of jtdytravels

DSC00376 © DY of jtdytravels

By the time this photo was taken it was 19:33.

Almost time to get off the wall and climb down to the waiting bus.

It would be good to find a feed and a bed for the night.

More anon.

David

This Walk on the Wall is About Helping Others to Help Themselves

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