I have a question.
Do we play life or life plays us?
If we play life, we are freely to choose. If life plays us, we don’t have choices at all.
Look at the world we are living in. Look at the people around us. Look at their lives. Look at ours. What do you see?
I think I’m freely to choose, because I’m aware that there are countless of thoughts that I can choose to have at the moment I think about anything, there are thousands of words that I can choose to say at the moment I speak, also, there are so many actions that I can choose to take at the moment I do anything.
This idea seems to be true but it also seems to be untrue when I recognize that the choices I have made have fatefully brought me to a situation in which I will more likely to think that the choices I have made were already decided. Not decided by myself, but by life itself.
Also, there are other times that I realize no matter which path I choose to take, it would eventually takes me to the place I should be.
If that is true, it is life that plays us. Not us play life.
Camera: Iphone 4S
DAY FOUR –
Hotel Kapok Beijing is a boutique hotel located near the Forbidden City. When you leave the hotel, turn left and go straight. It takes you about 10 minutes of walk to get to the East Gate of the Forbidden City. However, visitors are not allowed to get in the site through East Gate, visitors need to follow the path to the ticket office which is located at the main entrance of the Forbidden City. You will find that not only the location of the hotel is great, but the price and the service are great as well. The hotel room is very clean (really clean, I mean it), modern and comfortable. There are free drinks placed on the tea table to welcome visitors as well. Also, the staffs are quite helpful and friendly. They always wear a warm smile on the face. It cost only RMB$600.00 per night during Spring Festival.
Behind us is the east side of the Forbidden City. Walking on the sidewalk, you can see some people selling souvenirs for RMB$2.00 or $3.00.
The day that we successfully got in the Forbidden City was the 6th day of Chinese New Year. Comparing it to the day that we attempted to visit Forbidden City, at the 4th day of Chinese New Year, fewer people were queuing for tickets in that morning. So, we were able to get in easily and more quickly.
I was lucky that I was able to have a picture of myself in the frame alone without anyone joining me in the photo.
In this picture, you can see visitors were heading to the doorway to take a look at some precious items displaying inside the hall.
Behind me, it is one of the two biggest clocks displaying in the Clock and Watch Exhibition Hall. It is a Chime Clock, and it was made during the Qing Dynasty by the royal clockmakers.
Most of the watches and mocks are mostly made in Switzerland, England, France, the United States and Japan. Also, there are some Chinese made timepieces on the display. To enter the Clock and Watch Exhibition Hall, you have to pay an extra fee which cost RMB$10.00/per person.
This is the picture which was taken after we left the site and looked back at the outside wall of the Forbidden City. It was already 1 o’clock in the afternoon. We spent nearly 2 hours and half in the Forbidden City only for a rough visit. If you are a person who enjoys looking at details, the time you need for visit would be a bit longer.
This photo shows that the Samadhi Vegetarian Restaurant and Teahouse, located at the 2nd floor of Shifanghaoting, no. 16 Xinyuan Nanlu, is closed during Spring Festival. We came to the restaurant by a taxi, 20 minutes of drive, and it cost us RMB$100.00. We thought that taking a taxi would get us faster to the destination than taking a subway train, as the time required to walk to the subway station, wait for the train, change line and walk all the way to the restaurant, would at least takes 1 hour.
The restaurant is closed. We had to look for another place for lunch.
About 5 minutes of walk, we found a small restaurant serving noodles.
The closest subway station of this area is Liangmaqiao Station (subway line number 10).
We took subway train and got off at Yonghegong Station (subway line number 2), and went to the Wudaoying Hutong.
I like this place as it has more old and traditional Chinese houses.
The warm light hitting the surface of the houses made the atmosphere here more interesting and nostalgic.
I wish those flowers were fresh flowers.
I find it funny. Can you read that?
“Must Wear Defense Mask” (if you need to go inside the toilet)
This is the street which leads you to the entrance of Imperial College. We were late. It is closed when we arrived.
There is a nice vegetarian restaurant located not far away from the Chongwenmen Station. Even if you never want to be a vegetarian, the restaurant, Gongdelin, will definitely add good impressions to your trip in Beijing.
This little map shows the fastest walking route from Chongwenmen Station to Gongdelin Vegetarian Restaurant (功德林). It takes only 10 minutes of walk. Walking distance is only 500 mm.
This is Lo Han Zhai that we ordered (羅漢齋).
This is sweet and sour pork (酸甜骨).
Yam with blueberry juice (山藥配藍莓汁).
Coconut milk pumpkin cakes (椰奶南瓜糕).
It cost an average RMB$100.00 per person.
After dinner, we took subway train and got off at Qianmen Station to Da Shan Lan Street.
Da Shan Lan Street (大栅欄) is a shopping street surrounded by famous traditional Chinese stores and old buildings. I visited Da Shan Lan Street in the evening. The atmosphere created by the street lights and the surrounded old buildings is magical. Walking on the street, it is like travel back in time to the old Beijing in the period of more than three centuries ago.
You can find souvenirs here with reasonable price.
Travel Tip: By subway, go to Qianmen Station via subway line number 2 (RMB$2.00), exit C, walk to the bus parking area, then follow the sign post on the street to “大栅欄”. Located not far away from the subway station, it takes about 5 to 10 minutes of walk to the destination.
DAY FIVE –
Got up early in the morning, checked-out the hotel and walked to the nearest subway station to catch a subway train to the airport.
Travel tip: Subway line number 1, then transfer at Jianguomen Station, get off at Dongzhimen Station. After that, you can see the airport express train station to Terminal 2 and 3.
Subway train fee: RMB$2.00/per person
Airport express fee: RMB$25.00/per person
– The End –
Camera: Iphone 4S + Canon 500D
DAY THREE –
It is easy to get to Badaling Great Wall by train, but beware not to be confused Beijing North Railway Station with Beijing Railway Station shown on the subway map. Beijing North Railway Station will get you to Badaling Great Wall, but the Beijing Railway Station will not. (In the picture, it is the Beijing Railway Station)
Beijing North Railway Station is located above the Xizhimen Station (on the subway line number 2). The train ticket to Badaling cost only RMB$6.00 per person, and it takes 1 hour and 20 minutes to Badaling. Then, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes of walk to the entrance of The Great Wall. All seats are first come first served. I hope that the time you visit Badaling Great Wall could provide you soft seat tickets in the train. The period of time that I travel in the train did not provide soft seat tickets.
We were lucky in the beginning of the trip. We found empty seats in the train from Beijing North Railway Station to Badaling Station, but good luck didn’t stick with us when traveling back from Badaling to Beijing North Railway Station. All seats were taken. I saw people chose to sit on the ground, but I chose to stand in the train for more than one hour.
I forgot to tell you that there is a small food store in the railway station, where you can buy instant noodles, drinks and snacks while waiting for the train. Hot water is free and could be found at the corner outside the ladies room, which is located on the left hand side of the railway station (opposite to the food store).
Badaling Station is the final station of the train. All trains to Badaling is begins with “S2”. Also, you can get your return ticket right after you arrive at Badaling station.
We were lucky that there weren’t too many people around.
Badaling Great Wall is easy to climb. Handrails are installed inside each side of the wall, and the steps are well-paved.
I feel shaky when looking down.
You can see that there are so many steps to climb.
Lastly, I make it to “the eight tower in the north”, and after that I didn’t want to climb further up.
I wonder how it looks like when all the landscapes covered with snow.
You can choose to descend the Great Wall through the side path.
This is the side path that I am talking about.
To be continued.
Camera: Iphone 4S + Canon 500D
The word “福” can be translated as “good fortune”, and the word “緣” can be translated as “fate”, “circle – no beginning no end”. They are pronounced as “Fok Yun” (福緣), and these two characters “福緣” is the name of this beautiful tortoise you see on the picture, whose age with more than 100 years old.
Last year in October, Fok Yun was found by a couple in the market, hanged upside down inside a fishnet, waiting to meet his fate. The lovely couple, instead of leaving the distressing scene alone, compassion was aroused, they stopped to free the big tortoise.
From that moment, the big tortoise’s destiny has been rewritten.
The lovely couple bought the tortoise. Then, with help from friends, a group of kind-hearted people, help applied licenses, and finally, took the big tortoise to Macau. Later, they named the tortoise as “Fok Yun” (福緣). Also, they found him a peaceful place to live.
There is a saying, “Once a destiny has been decided it cannot be changed.”
I’m wondering if what it looked like to be a turning point of the fate of the tortoise was also a part of the destiny. Did the tortoise escape from his destiny? Or, was the story of the escape from the market was merely a part of his destiny? I don’t know, and I guess that the answer may not be an absolute answer. It may be something very different from what I could think of.
Anyway, I don’t think it matters now, what most important is that Fok Yun, the tortoise, is now enjoying his life, peacefully, in a peaceful temple in Taipa.
Life is precious. Even a life of a small animal or an insect deserves the right to live.
We, who can save, please save.
We, who can help, please help.
Hope the world fills with joy, love and compassion.
Camera: Canon EOS 450D
Location: Pou Tai Temple, Taipa