Saturday, November 23, 2013

China: Shenyang

I had an opportunity this weekend to visit a couple of museums: the 9:18 museum and the provincial museum.
I found the 9.18 museum quite a lesson in history for me. I am not well versed in the history of World War II. Living in North America, I suppose I learned the North American version - that the war started in Europe and by 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, the Americans were drawn into the war. But after visiting the 9.18 museum, I have another perspective on that historical period.
Walking through the museum is emotionally difficult because it shows how the Japanese invaded Northern China including Shenyang in 1931. It was a bloody and ruthless invasion and some of the graphics and objects were hard to look at.
Front of museum

Torture drum with spikes inside

There was a sign as I was exiting that said something like: "If you forget suffering, suffering will knock at your door again." This is so true but we keep forgetting because why else would there be war and worse, civil war where we kill our own people? Some of the images hanging on the walls were so graphic that it seemed improper to take pictures. So I did not. The images displayed the cruelty that people can induce on others.
We then went off to the cultural museum which made me really appreciate the history of China. The artifacts were quite amazing - jade vases and other ornaments and many different types of currency.

All the pictures below are types of currency used in ancient China.

The structure below is called a dolmen and although the function is not entirely known, it is suggested that it may have been a burial and sacrifice site or perhaps one's social position during the bronze period. They were usually built on hills so that they had a good view of the surrounding area. The whole structure is made of stone including the roof!
Then it was off to lunch and tea tasting at a mall that had many, many stores of just tea shops. It was hard to decide which store to stop at but we finally picked one and enjoyed the taste of several teas including chrysanthemum tea. The young lady preparing the tea was as gracious a host as we could ask for and we had a lovely time sampling.

Tea tasting

Cooked chicken backs

Cooked chicken feet

Cooked chicken necks

Cooked pig's testicles

Cooked silkworms

Cooked silkworm

Cooked worms


Sunday, November 17, 2013

China: Shenyang

I had some long hours at the college where I was working but in between, I had some time to do a bit of sightseeing with Grace who was the best interpreter and new friend that I had in China.
Yesterday we went to the Shenyang Imperial Palace which I think was the original palace of the emperor and dates back to  the +Qing Dynasty which started in 1625 and lasted until 1912. The place is almost 500 years old and still looks very good. It's now a museum and some of the architecture is quite impressive.

Today we went to the +Xinle museum - a culture that is more than 7000 years old. Grace said that the site was accidentally discovered by a man who was digging up in the yard where he lived in a dormitory. Prior to that, no one knew of the significance of the site and when he found some old pottery, he showed it to someone who then realized that it was hugely significant. Since 1973, there have been several excavations and there are some buildings erected in the style of this ancient civilization. There was even a masala brick that looked remarkably similar to the one Mom used to use to grand her masala and herbs.

After that visit, I wanted to use the subway so we took it to Beiling Park. The park is massive and from the entrance to the Zhaoling tomb is about 2 km. but on a cold and windy day , it seemed like 20 km. You can rent bikes in the summer and ride around the park but because it was November, there were none.

Then it was off to lunch. Again I had the (not so) bright idea to use the city transit so we hopped on a bus outside of Beiling Park only to get so tightly crammed into it after only a few stops that it would have been easy to stand without holding on and stay erect from the sheer bodies pasted against you so that there was no way to fall - or for that matter - to move, and that meant getting off the bus when we reached our stop. We had to exit at the front because we could not move to the back door. It was jam packed. I asked Grace if this was normal and she said it was quite normal for the buses to be overly crowded on the weekends.
That was my first weekend in Shenyang. Jet lag? What jet lag?