For many visitors, the Forbidden City (紫禁城) is the highlight of China. It was the Imperial Palace of the Chinese emperor from 1420 until 1912. Today, it's known as the “Palace Musuem” (故宫博物院) because it houses a large number of ancient Chinese artifacts. It has 980 rooms, and the buildings exemplify China's ancient architecture. The compound was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. With 14 million annual visitors, it is the most visited museum in the world. Will you be among them?
Beijing's Yong He Lama Temple (雍和宫) is constantly beckoning. We live a short bike ride from it, and it's visible from our apartment's balcony. Whenever we have guests, we take them to the Lama Temple. They're never disappointed. The compound has over 300 years of history, with many prayer halls and works of art to enjoy. The highlight of the Temple is the giant Buddha statue, carved from a single piece of sandalwood.
My guest for this episode is Honey Sherma, from Jaipur in Rajasthan, India. He has traveled to every continent except Antarctica on cargo vessels. We discussed his life, both on the high seas, and in small towns in India. A large part of our conversation was focused on dhabas, those wonderful shops/guesthouses that always seem to pop up in the middle of nowhere in India. I like the concept of the dhaba, and the conversations that take place in them, so much that I even considered changing the name of this podcast to “Chai and Chat with Dan”.
Almost everyone who comes to Beijing visits the Forbidden City, one of China's highlights. Afterward, most people go back to their hotel, or at least to a different part of the city. But if you cross the road to the north, you can visit lovely Jingshan Park (景山公园), in the exact center of Beijing. Not only is the park beautiful, with great views of the city and mountains, but is has some interesting history, as well. This is where Congzhen, the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty, fled after Beijing fell in 1644. Out of options, the emperor hung himself from a tree near the park's entrance.
For this episode of the podcast, I sat down to talk with Ben Ochner from Germany. We were huddled in a tarp-covered shelter called a dhaba on a cold and rainy day in the remote outpost of Chhatru, India, population 120. Just to mix things up, Ben decided to interview me for this podcast, so we get a little more insight into my life and why I chose to travel.
While traveling through the Ningxia semi-autonomous region in north-central China, I had the opportunity to check out a unique site. Shui Dong Gou (水洞沟) is one of the oldest Paleolithic excavations in all of China. It features ancient skulls and tools, as well as some models of old houses. But mostly, Shui Dong Gou has become a tourist haven, with nonstop fun for everyone. Sometimes it was hard to tell what was original and what was a recreation, but Shui Dong Gou still made for an interesting day away from the big city. Did I mention there were tractor rides?
After seeing the Genghis Khan Mausoleum, I left Inner Mongolia for Ninxia Hui, a small autonomous region in north-central China. My first stop was Yinchuan, Ninxia Hui's small capital, with a population of 800,000. Being a Chinese city, everything there seemed interesting to me, from a lake on the city's northwest side, to a smallish mosque, to a pedestrian shopping street. Here are a few photos from my stroll through Yinchuan:
During my first few months in China, I traveled with Katie to northern Inner Mongolia, where we learned a lot about Genghis Khan and his legacy. I couldn't get enough, so a year later, when I heard about a giant memorial to Genghis Khan in the middle of nowhere, I decided that I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to see it.
Last summer, Katie and I traveled to Berlin, where she lived for two years. Katie was a great tour guide, taking me to her old haunts and to the city's many parks and tourism attractions. I had a great time getting to know this world-class city for two full weeks. Many thanks to Maor, Christina and Liese for hosting us. I hope to see you again in the next few years.
Here are a few of my pictures from our trip:
Fei (菲) is from China. Tapani is from Finland. They met in New Zealand. They almost lived together in England. How did they end up in getting married and moving to Beijing? I got their story for this podcast.