So Shenyang is the capital of Liaoning province, it’s about 2 hours North of Dalian on the bullet train. It was formerly known as Mukden. In the 1600s the area was part of Manchuria and was briefly used as a capital for the Qing dynasty. The two major attractions of Shenyang are the Dongling tombs and the imperial palace
the entrance to the Dongling tombs, burial site of the first Qing emperor. It’s a huge park and gardens and the tomb is right at the centre
One of the many dragons around the area
Paintings in a shrine to the god wikipedia
The roofs and ceilings in this place were a amazing, so much more effort went into them than anything else it seemed
the actual burial site was a bit non-descript after all that. The birds are kind of cool though, I was told a legend that the emperor needed to hide from an enemy and all these crows came down and landed on him and his enemy thought he was a tree and left him alone. I have a feeling that I’m missing some essential details from this story but that’s all my friend was able to translate for me
One of the big gates at the imperial palace
a bridge inside over an ornamental stream
The imperial throne. It was pretty imposing, we weren’t allowed in to sit on it though.
the steps to the imperial family’s living quarters. One thing that’s surprised me so far is that I’ve gone to quite a few touristy areas in China – Dalian which is considered a tourist city, Chengdu which is near several UNESCO world heritage sites, Shenyang in which many people think the imperial palace is superior to that inBeijing, and Dandong which is famous for its proximity to North Korea – yet it’s still very rare to see Westerners. I completely underestimated how big a market internal tourism is. It makes sense in a country this vast and varied that few people have travelled outside (getting a visa is pretty difficult as well) but it can be a bit inconvenient that despite going to tourist districts almost no-one can speak English
the palace was full of pretty little corners like these
So another strange side effect of the lack of Westerners is that people will stop and stare, and point and call out ‘Wai guo ren!’ (foreigner!), and try to talk to you to practice their English, and ask you to pose for photographs with them, and on this one occasion, ask you to be on their TV show. I was approached by a group of people with cameras and equipment and after a few confused minutes Helen was able to translate for me that they’re making a TV show about places that have been awarded conversation status or protected status (or something like that, she wasn’t sure exactly what the English was) and this year is the 10 year anniversary of the imperial palace getting it. They want to show that this kind of programme is worthwhile and asked me to basically say nice things about the monument so they could say ‘Look, people come all the way from Ireland to see this place!’ The producers didn’t have a word of English so I gave a little spiel about how awesome the place was as a crowd gathered wondering if I was someone they should recognise. When I was finished the crew turned to Helen and asked her to translate what I had just said, only she hadn’t been listening, so she made up a spiel of her own in Chinese. It’ll be an interesting show to watch for anyone who speaks English and Chinese because the subtitles won’t even be remotely close to what I said, oh well. I get to be on TV in Hong Kong!