Thursday, November 29, 2012

Huanyuan Gardens & 5 Room Hall - Xian, China

The historians recorded that the Huaqing Palace which was dated 3000 years ago & used to have beautiful sprawling gardens and Imperial Hot Spring Bathing Pools (6000 years ago) in their 85,560 sq meters vicinity at the foot of Mount Lishan. This post will cover the areas where the beautiful scenic Huanyuan Gardens once stood, in adjacent land of the Imperial Hot Springs.

Emperor Kangxi once stayed here too, in the year 1703 which was later followed by Emperor Guangxu who lived here with his mother the Empress Dowager Cixi in 1900.

I was very excited when I walked through the huge arches and greeted the old bridges with thousands of orange red Koi fishes swimming gracefully all over the lakes. The feeling was so fascinating and I felt like walking inside in a  Romeo & Juliet's play.

The water was freezing cold and the fishes were in motionless mode always. So the water looked like mirrors to make perfect photographs.

The Chinese styled buildings behind were the various function rooms during the last reign of Chiang Kai Shek's power struggle in China after the fall of Qing Dynasty. The rolling hills are the foot of Mount Lishan.

  The scenic photos will make nice postcards!

My honey was shivering and shaking all over in front of the White Lotus Pavilion which housed the large dining hall of Chiang Kai Shek. It was built in the year 1878.

Here in this lavish banquet room, Chiang Kai Shek used to entertain only the highest ranking Generals from the Kuomintang Government during his hideout years in Xian, China.

 It was lovely to hop around from the various pavilions around the scenic lakes.

All their rooms were very narrow sized and this room was the reception area to receive distinguished guests of Chiang Kai Shek.

 ......A Thing Of Beauty Is A Joy Forever.....

 The small hideout room where Emperor Guangxu and his mother the Empress Dowager Cixi had stayed in.

This tiny sized Qing Dynasty's Imperial Hot Spa pool was a built by imitating the shape of Concubine Yang's pool during the Tang Dynasty. The Empress Dowager had soaked inside this. Now everyone threw coins and dollar notes inside!!!!!!

 The lovely arch made a nice frame for the Qing Dynasty's Pavilion.

The famous "5 Room Hall" behind me was the shelter of Empress Dowager Cixi after the Eight-Power Allied Force captured Peking in 1900, and was also the temporary residence of Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party during the world-famous "Xian Incidence" in 1936.

 The common meeting room for Chiang Kai Shek and his troops.

 There were several bullets holes shot by Chiang Kai Shek's assassins but he survived. The wall was so thick and made with concrete bricks!

 The private office room of Chiang Kai Shek.

The personal bedroom of Chiang Kai Shek where his portrait was taken with Madam Soong May Ling adorned the walls. When he was shot in 1936, he fled through the windows beside his bed and ran into hiding at the Mount Lishan jungles.

 There were several windows being riddled with bullets during the famous "Xian Incident" in year 1936.

 At both ends of the "5 Room Hall" there were 2 rooms where Chiang Kai Shek's bodyguards slept.

 The lookout balcony where you could admire the whole grounds where the Huaqing Palace once stood during the Tang Dynasty at the foot of scenic Mount Lishan.

 .......Do I look like the last Prince Of The Qing Dynasty?.......

 .......She must have been my Princess of the Qing Dynasty..........

My soul stood here for a long time and drifted around to admire the tranquil beauty of the ancient Chinese Pavilions built during the Qing Dynasty. I could imagine the colourful troops carrying the Emperors & Empresses around in their red and gold Dragon embedded Imperial Sedan Chairs. The chamberlains would announce the arrivals of Hamsaperor SP and Hamsapress Ah Hua.

There were so many winding steps and pavilions at interval corners! I am sure Chiang Kai Shek had many slow romantic walks here with his last wife Madame Soong May Ling. I loved that place so much and shall return!

 The End. 

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did. All the photos were snapped with my latest Samsung Galaxy SIII. It was such a "Light & Easy" mobile camera!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Huaqing Hot Springs - Xian

Most tourists would adjourn to visit the Huaqing Hot Springs after seeing the Museum Of Terracota Warriors as they are not too faraway from each other. The Huaqing Hot Springs has been the site of a famous imperial bathing pool and various palace complexes over its 3,000 year history.

The present day site is only a small part of the Tang Dynasty Palace, covering an area of 85,560 square meters. Entering by the west gate to the hot spring, you will see Nine Dragon Pool, Lotus Flower Pool and Frost Drifting Hall. All these structures were rebuilt in 1959 according to the Tang architectural style.

We enjoyed the nice walk around Xian in Winter. Your mood would be lighter & happier holding hands with your loved one like teenagers again.

The first open air pool of Hot Springs where they often held performances before Winter. The water was still hot inside the pool.

I was happy to see lesser crowd on that day. That gave me ample angles to snap photos without much distractions. The tour guide pointed out that every Summer, the whole area would be packed like sardines.

The statue of the Tang Dynasty's lady who looked a bit round and fat. It was fashionable that fatter ladies were considered beautiful with voluptuous limbs during the Tang Dynasty.

All the original palaces were destroyed during the wars over the centuries. However all the original bathing Imperial Bathing Pools are still intact and displayed for public view.

This Lotus Pool belonged to the Emperor's favourite concubine. The Tang Emperor Xuanzong used to spend his wintertimes at Huaqing Hot Springs in the company of his favorite concubine Yang. Yang, who was recognized as one of the most enchanting ladies in ancient China, was spoiled by the emperor. He cavorted with the beautiful lady all day and night and neglected state business.

The emperor built the luxurious palaces in this area purely for their personal pleasure. Emperor Xuanzong's misbehavior finally resulted in the An Lushan Rebellion, which damaged the stability of his regime and resulted in the destruction of some of the palaces built on the Huaqing site.

 The pool built for the Prince.

We were indeed very fortunate to have a personal tour guide Tom Liang who was very attentive and knowledgeable about the rich history of Ancient Xian. We were well entertained by his humourous old tales in both Mandarin & English.

This Nine Dragon Pool - is the largest bathing pool which belonged to the Emperor. It had special protruding walls that enabled the flowing hot spring water to flow in-out to create natural waves!! They were indeed so brilliant.

The last pool was only reserved for the highest ranking officials & Imperial Chefs to use. Take note of the the 6 holes at the side. It used to hold protruding poles meant for scrubbing the anus of the Imperial Chefs. They were not allowed to use their own hands to clean or wipe their own genitals and anus as they had to use their hands to cook all the Emperor's Imperial Dishes. How ridiculous!


This ancient Ching Dynasty's pavillion could be seen next to the Huaqing Hot Springs. It is part of the 5-Room Hall which would be in my next post about Chiang Kai Shek.

The next night, I pampered myself to soak inside the most Luxurious Hot Springs Spa in the downtown of Xian. I was stunned to bump into a well known TV B actor inside!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Winter in Xian - Terracotta Warriors & Horses

It has been my wife's dream to visit "The Silk Road" in China where the ancient traders used to ply and where Buddhism was first preached. I had planned this trip for some years and decided that it would be much cheaper to travel on our own instead of joining the tour. It was so relaxing and hassle-free. We started off with the ancient capital of Xian which is in the Shaanxi Province. Next year onwards, we hope to visit other towns along "The Silk Road" like Dunhuang, Urumqi, Inner Mongolia and others.

It was our first time flying a Chinese plane as it was the cheapest and only airlines to reach Xian with stopover in Guangzhou. The KL-Guangzhou's plane was only a 737! Goodness, my balls! All others were Airbus, so okay, free-balls! Their snack food were served in paper boxes with an orange inside! LOL. Dinner meals were proper and complete in typical trays. I saw with my own eyes how those stewardess were very rude to China's passengers! It seemed to be acceptable culture!

We hired a male personal tour guide Tom Liang, online before the trip with a private chauffeur car! The car was big & comfortable and I felt like an Emperor! We visited the most famous historical site first and it was the Terracotta Warriors & Horses Museum. It was built with huge roofs over the 3 giant pits where tourists could walk around the sides to view at the sites below. It was freezing Winter and the best time to visit Xian. You will have no chance to snap nice photos if you visit during other seasons. It would be very crowded with people!

The figures, dating from 3rd century BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers in Lintong district. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses.

Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits near by First Emperor Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum. The above photo is the Pit No. 1.

The above photos are Pit No. 2 & 3. I just posted a small section of the whole large pits. All the soldier statues were badly smashed & destroyed by enemies in later years and had to be fixed back one by one. They have not finished them since 1974! I could write many paragraphs about the warriors and their history but not here as you could google them.

There were altogether 13 dynasties during the reign of Xian being the first capital of China. Almost everything was naturally greyish and brownish during the ancient days. It was during the Tang Dynasty when colours were being used in everything from buildings, figurines and clothings. Our tour guide Tom Liang was extremely patient and shared all his valuable knowledge of Xian with us. He could converse in both both Mandarin & English fluently. Somehow I think it was better to express the history in Mandarin language.

It was the begining of Winter and we experienced the temp from 8 degrees Celcius down to Minus 5 degrees at the peak of Huashan Mountains. We ate our first typical Xian Dishes for lunch and the bill was less than RM25.It was delicious and nice.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Singapore Reunion

It was a quick and meaningful trip to Singapore last weekend for my wife's "Classmates Reunion" after not seeing them for 2 decades. I took this opportunity to meet my cousins and a long time blogger Ken whom I had never met before. He has since quit blogging after the birth of his 2 beautiful kids. I had to notify everyone in Singapore that I was visiting as I knew that FACEBOOK would expose me and no way to hide myself.

I stayed in a hotel along Bencoolen Street which is just next to Orchard and Bugis areas. The above colonial house was located near my hotel and I love their idea of planting fresh green pandan leaves all around that office. It was so fragrant as I walked pass the place.

Our schedule was packed and hectic for 2 days meeting different groups for lunch, tea and dinner. I sure sounded like a VIP. We found time to hop into my favourite Bugis Junction which has a similar shopping concept like what I saw in Osaka where they have glass roof sheltering all the shops below with cool air conditioning everywhere. I bought my wife a "Hello Kitty" egg pan so that she could make nice bento sets for me to eat again.

I was very attracted to the above 3-D Advertisements in the glass showcase for a POST STICK company. They used all the post stick to stitch them onto evening gowns! How brilliant and nice! It seems like Singapore is now into this Eco-Green fashion trend like what I saw in Osaka and Taichung where the gowns were made of paper or shuttle cocks! Have you seen anything like this in Malaysia?

Blogger Ken came to pick us up in his shiny black Mercedes Benz with his pretty wife and 2 lovely kids. He took us to have coffee and yummy finger foodies at the trendiest hub where the unique cafes are all located inside disused Military Barrack's stores & buildings. I love that place very much and would want to go there again. Alas, all the photos of that place were taken in my wife's camera. So Ken and I had a good chat about anything under the sun ranging from Gods, Ghosts, Humans and Deaths. You know how famously bizarre I am. His smart wife was even more enlightening to explain all the topics pertaining to the "special" children's care and the endless agony faced by the parents to bring up their problem kids. We enjoyed their company SO VERY MUCH! Later he drove us around the city to cruise by the must-visit Botanical Gardens, swanky Holland Road areas down to The Sands in the city. Thank you Ken and wife!

My uncle and wife took us to eat at Newton's Hawker Centre again at my request as I have fond memories of that place. The host ordered too much food like 8 types of hawker food. I was too full until I was silent inside the car as the food was right up to my throat and I could vomit any minute. Later we went up to Mount Faber which is Singapore's Peak to see the city lights and many couples grrrr grrrrr inside their dark cars.

Next day we visited the famous Guan Yin Temple again in the town area just a few blocks away from my hotel. It is my wife's practice that we should visit any temple to pay courtesy respect when we visit any foreign places. Many people were seen rubbing the whole statue of the Laughing Buddha. I followed them and even carried his big "WEALTH BAG" after giving $2 donations. Please bless me to win the next TOTO's Jackpot!

We had lunch at the famous much talked about Geylang area where you can find yummy food and abundance of "sexilicious" prostitutes. They could be seen everywhere as prostitution is legal in that republic. Throughout my journey around Geylang, I kept thinking of Blogger SP and all the Hamsap Bloggers from HHBC. Their hilarious dirty words kept echoing in my head to make me giggle.

On the last day, the uncle took us to eat Dim Sum for lunch at the Famous 126 restaurant in Geylang. Again, he ordered too much and there were over 10 types of delicacies to eat. Overall it was a very fattening and happy trip. I will be back again to Singapore in March 2013.