East meets West: Peking Opera, the Great Wall, the Ming Tombs, Beijing 2008, and Peking Duck

Peking Opera

So, traditional Peking Opera – our tourguide explained that you may or may not like it but you will never forget it. The verdict? I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

The singing was… different, but the real gem were the subs being put up for us (it was a private showing for the tour). To give them credit, the physical skill of the performance was amped up in the later parts of the performance to meet expectations of the “azn skillz” with stunning displays of swordplay, staffplay, “kungfu” leaps and at one ploint, the main character kicking staves back at the others who were tossing them at her, without the staves ever touching the ground!

The Great Wall

great wall

Definitely one Great Wall

And it is, without a doubt, one Great Wall. I know; I climbed it, I walked it, I conquered it – barely. Spotting a can of Redbull on the wall gave me a hint that perhaps the properties bestowed by that beverage would have made things easier.

The original Wall was built by emperor Qin, the man that unified China (See Hero), around 220–206 BC. However it was mostly packed mud and that first wall mostly doesn’t exist anymore. The brick and stone wall that we know was built during the Ming Dynasty in the 1400’s. Prided as the longest wall in the world, it’s also the longest graveyard in the world – the labour required to build it was very taxing. The part we explored was built on the top of hills, making it a very steep climb high up in the air – an exhausting combination.

Mustering all my strength, I pushed on until I reached the end of the section open to tourism. VERY VERY VERY good cardio. Well worth it though; the view up there is breathtaking (believe me, so is the climb) and it’s amazing to think that they built this structure in that period of history.

Ming Tombs

Speaking of the Ming dynasty, the next site on the tour happened to be the Ming Tombs, the burial grounds of the emperors in the Ming dynasty. This nice area was marked off by emperor Zhu Di, the same one responsible for the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven. Backed by a large mountain range, a river flowing through the area, etc – all the good feng shui things – most of the Ming dynasty emperors have been buried here.

Each one got a complex -we visitedZhu Di’s complex, the biggest one – with gardens,  structures, and a large pudding-shaped man-made mound in the back to be entombed in. Due to the fiasco of opening one of the mounds, failing because of lack of preservation technology, the other mounds have not been opened.

I expected it to be a place of respect and quiet but while several people came to pay homage, the tourist vendors were out in full force – one stand was even selling Russian hats!

Olympics 2008

You guys remember the Bird’s Nest right?

supporting the birds nest

Don’t worry guys I’ve got this one

Peking Duck

peking duck

Slicing the Peking Duck

To top off the day, this exhausting day of adventure, we were treated to a Peking Duck dinner:D A whole duck was rolled out on a trolley and sliced by the chef while we watched (that duck aint peeking no more…)

The traditional way of eating it was then demonstrated. Slivers of the duck are essentially rolled into a wrap along with veggies and sauce, a bit like a spring roll.


Also in East Meets West

An account of my experiences during a family vacation in China.

  1. East meets West: sitting in an airport
  2. East meets West: Peking Opera, the Great Wall, the Ming Tombs, Beijing 2008, and Peking Duck
  3. East meets West: hot time in the hutong tonight
  4. East meets West: soldiers of clay and flesh

View the entire series