Empress’ House, Ruins, Return to Shanghai

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This post was originally published in 2007
It may contain stale & outdated information. Or it may have grown more awesome with age, like the author.

Again, we rose at six in the morning. This time we were not late for breakfast, instead breakfast was late for us. When we arrived in the dining hall we found that there was no food. This was only mildly disappointing, as the food had been rather bland anyway. I ate about five … things, the closest description of which would be cupcakes. They weren’t really cupcakes though, they had some sort of cream coloured paste on top, and the cake part had a funny texture. Of the four items available however, they were the best. I chased them down with a cup of coffee, and sat waiting for the others to be ready to go.

After waiting for about ten minutes, I saw that the tour guide had come down. She was much more irritated over the lack of food than I, and proceeded to berate the hotel staff quite severely. I was pleased that she was displaying such behaviour, as one would hope that a tour guide, responsible for the safety and well-being of the group, would get annoyed over an unplanned lack of breakfast. She paced back and forth, nearly shouting at the staff. Of the negative adjectives I know, she called them lazy and stupid. I would bet money that she used others, but I don’t know them. The staff must have been lazy and/or stupid, as they didn’t really quicken their activities after their telling-off, which served only to annoy the guide more. Eventually more breakfast was brought out, but I didn’t eat any, as food after coffee isn’t my scene.

When the name-calling was finished with, we boarded the bus. First stop was the site of the Olympic Games. Generally the site was unimpressive, as it is a simple (albeit large) flat area of brown dirt. The two main attractions were the stadium and the swimming pool. The stadium is nice because of its architectural style. The impression they were going for is a large bird’s nest. I don’t know if I can imagine a bird large and strong enough to fly with the girders required to construct this nest, but the stadium looks nice nonetheless. The indoor swimming pool will be absolutely fantastic, as it has been designed to react to projected light, with transparent construction materials. This means that the whole building will light up, and could have videos or colours or … whatever projected onto it.

While we were at the site the guide talked for awhile, and we took photos. Then a large group of school-kids turned up, which we took as a cue to leave. Next stop was the Empress’s house. This was interesting, and very large. Not as large as the Forbidden City, but larger then my house. It was really more of the Empress’s area, as it covered quite a lot of ground. It is on the edge of a lake. Yvonne’s favourite thing was the stone ship, which I thought wasn’t very functional. By now I had become somewhat immune to the allure of Chinese historical architecture, and for this reason I have little to say about this area. It looked like all the other imperial areas. The main thing that set it apart was the stone boat, perhaps it is for this reason that Yvonne likes it so much.

We next went to the ruins, for lack of a better name. I don’t know what it was originally, but I know that white people smashed it up in the 1800′s. They were pretty much what one would expect from something with this name, that is to say it was a large area of broken stone. When we arrived we took a rather long cart ride from the entrance to the main area, where we had lunch. The restaurant is state-owned, which means not very good. The toilets were awful, like they hadn’t been cleaned since they were built. After lunch we walked around the ruins and were talked at by the guide. My favourite part was the maze – it was amazing. I liked it because I knew I would be able to say that.

When we were finished with the ruins we were driven to the railway station, where we waited for the train. When the train arrived, we boarded it.

And thus my Bejing trip was concluded.

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