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2013 Mar by Jorge Sanchez
I arrived early in the morning to the railway station of Shijiazhuang, Hebei capital. I had breakfast in one of the many 24 hours fast food cafeterias and then started to explore the city during several hours.
I knew that Shijiazhuang has no much to offer the traveller. In Hebei province the Tibetan temple of Putuo Zongcheng in the UNESCO Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples, in Chengde, is the best place to visit, but that was in the northern part of the province and I wanted to know some interesting place in the south of Hebei.
I walkedseveral hours around Shijiazhuang trying to find interesting temples and other tourists attractions, and at about midday I consulted a map in the street and I then resolved to leave by bus to a relatively small town called Cangzhou, in order to admire its famous Iron Lion. After that I planned to visit Tianjin province using a boat along the Gran Canal, the longest artificial canal in the world (about 1800 kilometers), uniting Beijing with Hangzhou, in Zhejiang province, with stops in many interesting cities, as for instance Cangzhou and Tianjin.
I reached Cangzhou at about 3 PM, and walked to the Iron Lion, which is near the bus station.
The impressive Iron Lion was cast during the second half of the X century and was located in a Buddhist temple. Its weight is around 40 tons, and it measures about 6 meters high, per 6 and a half meters long and over 3 meters width. It is the largest and oldest iron cast artwork in China.
Furthermore, it was very beautiful I stayed by its side at least one hour, I felt good near it.
In the past, over its lotus seat, there was a statue representing the Bodhisattva Manjusri, but the statue was lost.
There was a guardian taking care of it, otherwise I would have liked to climb to its top to spend the night inside my sleeping bag.
The next day I left to Tanggu, in Tianjin.
NORTH OF HEBEI, THE GREAT WALL BY THE YELLOW SEA:
I had been in the year 1982 in the Great Wall, in one day excursion from Beijing, together with many chinese tourists. But In a new journey to China I resolved to get to know a more romantic part of the Great Wall, exactly the beginning (or the end) of this wonder.
I arrived early in the morning to Shanhaiguan. From there I caught a bus to the entrance of the Wall. I paid a few yuan for the ticket (it was very cheap because of the month of april). And then walked inside.
Before reaching the most exciting part, that of the wall entering the sea, I visited a few temples on the way, then a beach and finally another temple facing the sea.
I had noticed that during my bus journey from the train station of Shanhaiguan to the wall, there were many signs in Russian language, this is because many russians, especially those living in Siberia or the Russian Far East, find cheaper to go to the beaches near Shanhaiguan, or Shanhai Pass, than to Sochi or Spain, Italy, Thailand, etc.
There were few tourists, all chinese. I reached the last temple and from there I observed the Great Wall meeting the waters of the Bohai Sea. I liked the view, it was original and beautiful.
Owing to a sign, I learnt that, unfortunately, it had been reconstructed. It was destroyed by the "seven evil powers" (they did not mention which seven powers were, but later on I read that the seven powers were mostly european countries that invaded China causing so much harm to the country, such as England, France, Germany, Russia, Japan, etc.).
Anyway, the place was worth a visit and much less touristy than the usual excursion to Badaling.
In the second part of the day I headed to the bus station and took the first one in direction to Chengde, still in Hebei province.
CHENGDE, MOUNTAIN RESORT AND ITS OUTLYING TEMPLES: I reached Chengde by bus, from Shanhaiguan, and immediately took another bus to downtown, where I asked the people for the Patrimony of the Humankind. Soon I was advised to start by the Tibetan temple in the outskirts, and to leave the palaces in downtown.
Finally I reached the Putuo Zongcheng Temple, a huge temple of the XVIII century that surprised me because I had been in the Potala Palace in the past, and this one looked very similar. In fact, it was built following the Potala architecture.
I bought the entry ticket. There were many tourists, most came from foreign countries. I heard Italian, French, English and even Spanish language among the tourists. I guessed that they came in a day visit from Beijing.
I calculated that the visit to that Buddhist temple would take me one hour. I did not want to stay longer because I had still to visit the other palace complex in downtown. I found it smaller than the Potala, although according to some signs it seems that it is similar in size. But inside there was less interesting than the Potala and which lesser places and treasures to see. It was almost empty but anyway I enjoyed the place.
I climbed the steps until the top to enjoy a superb view. Far in front, at a few kilometers distance, I noticed a fantastic rock with a characteristic form. It was called Qingshui Mountain, or Hammer Rock, because its form looked like an inverted hammer.
Back in downtown I then entered the great temples complex. I had to buy another ticket.
Inside I spent about 3 hours because there was much to visit. I saw high pagodas, palaces and XVIII century buildings, apart from the Imperial Garden.
When darkness fell, I took a bus to the railway station and continued by train my journey across China. |
2002 Jul by Veikko Huhtala*
Hebei is Chinese province which is situated around Beijing. If you are arriving to Beijing by train you must go through Hebei before reaching there. First time I was traveling through Hebei when my train was coming from Mongolia in Sep 1986. At this last time we were coming by train from Pyongyang in North Korea.|
Tangshan was only town where we went out of train and walked some time in the station.
Of course this kind visit is not something to be proud of, but anyway I have been there.
2001 Aug by Leo Koolhoven
In 2001 I took the Trans-Mongolian Railway. It was a special experience to see the landscape and culture change from Moscow to Beijing.|
The train also passed Hebei, but I can't remember anything special about Hebei.