Last month, in the end of November after visited Beijing for about 5 days, we take a short train trip to Chengdu on weekend. A trip to Chengde was worth it and really nice since the city is also not located too far from the capital. We spent 1 day tour in Chengde and visited the most favorite attraction called Chengde Mountain Resort. Escape to Chengde from the crowded city was a nice experience. The city, with a topography of mostly plateaus and mountains, remains as an outstanding example of the harmonious Chinese integration of buildings into the natural environment.
The Place Where We Had Rest on Chengde Mountain Resort
As like I already say it before, a trip to Chengde mainly focused for a short excursion to the mountain resort, which was used as emperors summer resort, escape from heat in Beijing when summer. Chengde Mountain Resort was used to be a summer resort and hunting ground for emperors of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Kangxi, Qianlong and Jiaqing Emperors often spent several months a year here to escape the summer heat in the capital Beijing. I heard from our guide, it took a total of 89 years to complete it. It is a vast complex of palaces and administrative and ceremonial buildings and even regarded as the largest existing imperial garden in the world. For visitors who already visit Forbidden City then you can imagine this complex is bigger than Forbidden City with impressive series of temples, lake and gardens.
One Spot of the Lake at Chengde Mountain Resort
The Chengde Mountain Resort is divided into four areas including the palace area, lake area, plain area and mountain area. It is most famous for the 72 scenic spots which were named by the Kangxi and Qianlong Emperors. In the palace area, we can enter the palace rooms which have been turned into museum exhibits. Tour guide guided us to have a view to the complete wax exhibit where showing the history of the Qing dynasty, with decent English translations.
By visit Chengde, we not only knew about the history and background of the site but also can enjoy the nature landscapes in surroundings. Moreover, it also gives us an excellent experience to appreciate the true value of the cultural and historical landscape of China. It is such a great escape from hustling bustling city of Beijing to know more about other story of China.
I spent a total of 10 days in China last vacation in the autumn of 2013. When arranging my itinerary in the months before going, I recognized that 10 days isn't much time for exploring one of the big countries such as China. So I wanted to see as much of it as possible, especially for the first visitors like me. Come to China, actually for me Beijing is my main destination that we (my family and I) could not miss. So we spent several days there visited some landmarks, famous historical attractions such as Great Wall, Forbidden City, etc.
One Corner of Yungang Grottoes
After Beijing, we decided to make a trip to Datong, an old city (remote place) located several hundred kilometers from Beijing, 6 hours from the capital by train. While the city proper may be described as a highly polluted and uninteresting industrial metropolis, visitors will finds two incredible sites that will take breath away on its surrounding. We spent 2 days Datong tour which was memorable and priceless. The highlights are Yungang Grottoes and Hanging Monastery.
Speak of Yungang Grottoes in Datong, it is a really old and incredible ancient Buddhist temple carvings within caves. These grottoes are not only a UNESCO site but one of the three most famous ancient Buddhist sculptures in China. Besides Yungang Grottoes, a trip to Hanging Monastery becomes the best for me. The Hanging Monestery, or Hanging Temple, literally hangs on the edge of a mountain cliff. It sits on stilts more than 50 meters above the ground and was built in 491 AD, it has survived more than 1500 years. It is truly an architectural masterpiece.
The Masterpiece Hanging Monastery
Same like other travelers, we also could climb up to the temple above the ground which seems to be supported dangerously by a few lanky wooden poles jabbed vertically into the already near-vertical cliff side. Here, you can see at the picture above, so dangerous and creepy. The sites within it are incredible, as well. There are artifacts from earlier centuries. From our visit to Hanging Monastery, I could not imagine how ancient people could build this site without modern equipment or technology. Such an impressive, unbelievable architecture! I could make a conclusion that our trip to Datong, it was truly a religious experience.