It is well known for those who work on alternative therapies that many of them evolved up to a signifacant degree in a country where they are applied even today in full harmony with classical medicine. This country is China. With a history of approximately 4000 years, the civilization of Huaxia (another name often used to represent China) is considered to be one of the most influential in the world.
Recently I had the chance to visit Beijing, the “North Capital” of China with almost 19,500,000 inhabitants, where tradition and contemporary technological achievements, wealth and poverty, vast parks and heavy air pollution, western fast food chains and local snacks, luxurious cars and fanciful modified vehicles coexist. All these and much more compose an extremely interesting scenery which leaves the visitor with the feeling of living in two parallel worlds, so controversial and yet so interdependable.
I hope that the following photographs will waft to you some “China scent” and why not, urge you to add this faraway country to your travelling destinations.
Statues looking like dragons and other mythologic creatures are decorating the roofs and their number proclaims the significance of the building.
The Imperial Path is the carved on marble path which links all main buildings of the Forbidden City. Only the Emperor was allowed to pass over this path. Even today those sections are not accessible by visitors. The specific part of the Path shown on the photograph was constructed by a single piece of marble weighing 200 tones and was transported to Beijing drawn on ice.
Yin and yang are substantial concepts of the Chinese cosmic theory. These opposite yet supplementary energies are expressed by the two lions which were positioned at the entrance of every imperial building. The female lion (yin) holding under its claw a baby lion corresponds of course to the empress while the male lion (yang) holding the globe corresponds to the emperor and is a symbol of power and authority.
According to feng shui the dragon is the symbol of success, power, influence, creative energy, progress and protection. Therefore, it is also a symbol of the emperor and that explains its presence on the wall paintings of imperial buildings and also on the trunk of holy trees. The juniper shown on the photograph is over 500 years old. This tree is known as the “juniper of nine dragons” because the spiral grooves on its trunk resemble nine coiling dragons climbing up towards the sky. But in China dragons can be seen even in water…
Water is one of the five basic elements of feng shui. Without water life does not exist. The liquid element provides a home with health, prosperity and balanced relations. Some of the most privileged dwellings of Beijing have a view to a lake.
As well as the Summer Palace, where the lake is artificial and is hosting one of the heaviest ships ever built.
The Marble Boat never sailed in reality as its base was constructed with large stone blocks. The rest of the construction was made out of wood painted to imitate marble.
Summer Palace is also hosting the longest corridor of the world. Its length is 728 meters and it was constructed so the emperor’s Qianlong mother could enjoy her walks in the garden unaffected from weather conditions. I wonder, is it a coincidence that the emperor’s name in English contains the word “long”?
The corridor that earned a place in the Guinness World Records book has over 14,000 wall painting decorations of extreme detail showing mainly landscapes of South China and glorious warriors.
Although China has high growth rate the last years and major effort is made by the state to improve the living standard of its inhabitants, living conditions for many Chinese people remain poor. However, Chinese are among those who enjoy a high life expectancy. One of the Chinese symbols for longevity is the bamboo tree. A plant that is tall, resilient, flexible, green all year round and able to withstand every crankiness of mother Nature. Chinese people believe that the secret for living a long, happy life is adaptability. Bamboo is fairly considered to be the best representative of this belief and it is not a coincidence that the Purple Bamboo Park is situated in Beijing. The former imperial garden is nowadays an oasis of coolness and amusement place for the inhabitants of Beijing who gather here in order to listen to music…
Massage, reflexology, botanology and acupuncture are the traditional therapeutic systems of Chinese people and integral parts of their every day life. This is proclaimed by the innumerous massage institutes of Beijing, the ancient inscriptions reporting acupuncture points and meridians…
the numerous kinds of tea sold in super markets…
and on the street,
The plant shaoyao or paeonia lactiflora is often seen in the gardens of China, not only because of the beatiful flowers it offers during spring time. The roots of the plant are renowned for its antispasmodic properties, they are used to lower fever and reduce pain and on wounds as hemostat and antiseptic.
The systematic, almost daily low to medium intensity workout is another habit of Chinese people linked to longevity. The parks in Beijing and the country are full of people exercising in a little different way of what is accustomed in the West…
If you do, you may be able to understand better the folk that 2,500 years ago constructed one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall.
The trip to Beijing was an experience that will surely leave its mark in my soul and spirit. If you are also planning to travel to China or specifically to Beijing I advise you not to set off without having packed two worthy books, namely “The Rough Guide to China” and “The Rough Guide to Beijing”.