Interview: Helga Perera

I had the pleasure of visiting Helga’s Folly in Kandy twice this year. Each visit made me more fascinated with the house and its amazing murals. I also had some questions about the house. So I wrote to Helga, the owner and creator of Helga’s Folly, and she kindly responded to my email interview for the blog, despite being stricken with a flu.

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Helga at the Jane Lillian Vance grotto, courtesy of Helga Perera

  1. The fact sheet on Helga’s Folly provided on the self-tour mentions that your mother, Esme de Silva, designed the original house in the 1930s. What did your mother envision for the house? 

Just a  family home in the hills. Designed by my mother who was an artist in the 30’s.

  1. What is the story behind Helga’s Folly?

I was almost born here. The house became a hotel in the late 50’s, and has hosted many celebrities, and politicians.

  1. What inspired you to transform Chalet hotel into Helga’s Folly?

I love color, and as I was going to spend much time here, did it my way. Name  was suggested by Richard Mason the South African writer.

  1. There is a mix of whimsy and the spiritual in the artistic theme around the house. Was this intentional from the outset or was the theme an emerging and evolving aspect in the redesigning of the house?

Life should have whimsy and spirituality. The house  still evolves.. No theme! Think of the house as a nursery for all!!

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  1. I understand that different artists have contributed to the Helga’s Folly murals and creative pieces. How did this come about?

Not only artists, guests too.. Many come sad, and in a dark place ..I suggest that they ‘paint out’.. I am a great believer in healing through art’!!

  1. Please tell us about one of your favourite pieces, your own or by other artists, and the story behind it.

I love the Jane Lillian Vance Grotto, where I go for ‘that’ quiet moment, and suggest to guests that they do too. The story behind the grotto : 50 years ago my first husband gave me ‘that’ turn of the century magnificent gilded frame. The frame hung empty for 48 years, for want of an artist. Artists came, BUT went when they were told that I had a penchant for skulls, and would want prominence given in the painting to one! 3 ½ years ago, I was unwell, and I thought before I met my first husband who had gone on to his final adventure, I must give the frame priority. I googled and was ‘taken’ by Professor Jane Lillian Vance’s work. Professor Jane was one of the first Westerners to be allowed to paint the Dalai Lama. ‘Gift To The Village’, on You Tube, is a brilliant documentary of Professor Jane delivering the painting. What hit the ‘Golden Cord’ that I had at LAST found my artist, was the painting also on You Tube by Professor Jane of a field with a fawn,  and bumble bee, although it was the field where they found the skeletonized body of one of her most gifted students,  recognized by her jewellery. Professor Jane had transformed which would have been a gruesome scene into one of peace and beauty.

I knew then that I had found my artist. I wrote to the professor, asking her if she would consider doing a portrait of a woman on a hill in Kandy.

Professor Jane wrote straight back saying that she was brought here 18 years ago, when a Fulbright student, by Waruna Jayasinghe antiques and was inspired.

The magnificient turn of the century gild frame now embraces Professor Jane’s beautiful portrait of me, which she brought over 3 ½ years ago, and then continued to weave, with her brush, her magic in her great 15 ft mural of my family in her grotto!

The Jane Lillian Vance Grotto is ALIVE telling a myriad of stories!

  1. The lighting around the rooms seems to have been arranged masterfully to highlight a specific aspect in the artwork such as the logo of savethenextgirl.com in Jillian Vance’s painting, a cause she passionately believes in. Please tell us about the person who was behind the lighting arrangements.

I like atmospheric rooms. Our electrician  put the spots where I wanted, highlighting certain bits!!

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  1. Which is your special corner or space at the Folly and why?

Depends on one’s mood.. The Jane Lillian Grotto is one, and the other the small green drawing room, with family photographs, and where I used to sit with my parents  and brother as a child. Find this room very comforting.

  1. I noticed that the music played in the lounge area is mostly from the 30s. Was this coincidental on the days I visited or is there some significance of this music playlist to the theme of the house?

This was the music which we grew up with.

  1. To wrap up this intriguing interview, please share a quote or verse that inspires or motivates you especially when you are feeling a little down or stressed out or simply in need of some positivity.

“Tomorrow is another day”!!

Special Six: Evenings in Siem Reap

With everything there is to see during the day around Siem Reap, there is usually not much energy left by the time evening comes around. My friends and I used to take a short rest during late afternoon and then leisurely explore the nearby 2 Thnoc street and its neighbourhood in the evening. Here are our six favourite things to do in Siem Reap in the evenings.

  1. Pamper your feet with a reflexology foot massage.

After all the walking during the day, we felt our tired feet needed to be indulged especially as foot massages were so affordable. We tried out a different spa on 2 Thnoc street each day but liked best Bodia Spa, above U-Care pharmacy.

2. Shop at Senteurs d’Angkor on 2 Thnoc street.

My favourite shop on this street was Senteurs d’Angkor. The place not only smelled lovely, it had lots of bath products as well as a range of spices. Great place for some souvenirs.

  1. Visit Artisans Angkor

Artisans Angkor considers itself a social business. This company began as a project for providing skills training to youth from communities with limited educational opportunities. Since the company was formed in the late 90s, it has opened 43 workshops in Siem Reap providing employment to 1300 people. The handicraft showroom we visited was on Stung Thmey street and had lots of wood statues, lacquered sculptures etc. I bought some lovely silk scarves here.

  1. Eat at Pub Street

We enjoyed trying out different cafes on this street packed with restaurants and cafes. The place was always crowded during evenings with loud music blasting from different restaurants.

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Source: Shelley Graner @ Plans Subject To Change

  1. Explore Angkor night market where you can buy souvenirs and try street food.

On the last evening of our stay in Siem Reap, we visited the Angkor night market which, according to its website, is the first night market in Cambodia. The night market, open from 4pm till midnight, had different stalls selling souvenirs and handicrafts as well as food and drinks. I bought several krama, traditional Cambodian scarf, here.

  1. Take a trishaw ride across the city to see Siem Reap in the evenings

We enjoyed taking the trishaw ride from our guesthouse and going for a ride around the city in the evenings. It is a lovely way to enjoy seeing parts of the city which you would not have time to visit.

Bonus: I did like River Garden, the place we stayed at in Siem Reap. We had booked two rooms and were given a sort of two storey mini chalet to ourselves. The breakfast provided each morning was delicious.

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I did lose something of great sentimental value to my mother and me here though. After my road traffic accident, my mother gave me her special mini Annai Velankanni statue to take with me on my travels. I generally take out the palm sized luminescent mini statue and keep it in a place visible to me so that I would remember to repack it in my bags. However, I forgot to repack it when I left Siem Reap and the little statue after being in my family for nearly twenty years was lost. I wrote to the staff at River Garden but I received the reply that they had not found it in my room. My mother was quite upset about it but I hope that someone who needed the protection of Annai Velankanni more has it with her or him now.

Have you lost anything of great sentimental value to you during your travels? If you have visited Siem Reap, what was your favourite place to visit in the evenings?

[I am linking this post to

*Monday Escapes #42, hosted by Packing my Suitcase and My Travel Monkey

**City Tripping #42, hosted by Wander Mum and Mummy Travels]

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Sunshine Blogger Award

I was delighted to be nominated for the Sunshine blogger award by Brooke of Anywhere with Brooke. Check out her blog for coffee spots in Louisville or her suggestions for things to do in Bordeaux.

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Quoting Brooke, “The Sunshine Blogger Award is an award given to bloggers by bloggers. It is given to bloggers who are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”.

So, thank you, Brooke, for the lovely nomination and responding to your questions:

  • When did you start your first blog and if it is not the current one, about what was it?

I started my first blog back in 2004. It was called ‘View from my desk’, where I shared random musings when I felt like it. I removed it after a decade because I just wanted to focus on my two current blogs – this one and my food blog.

  • Dream travel destination?

Currently, it is New Zealand.

  • Name one book/movie that has inspired you

Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham.

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  • What countries have you traveled to?

I have traveled to over 25 countries, the most recent one being UK.

  • Tell something funny that has happened to you in a plane

I remember a funny conversation on my first time on a budget airline that had started operating in Sri Lanka. I had been delighted that I had got a return air ticket quite cheaply, until my neighbours on my flight chatted about the affordability of the airfare. I learnt that they had paid one-third of what I had paid for my flight. That was my intro to the big sales and seasonal discounts offered by budget airlines and I found it really funny that contentment can be quite relative.

  • What is your own favorite post from your blog?

My favourite post from my blog, Arctic Lessons, is on my travel to Kiruna, Sweden, in search of the northern lights. I also wrote it a long time ago, during my pre-blogging years, and I enjoyed writing it without having any audience in mind.

  • What are your three must listen road trip songs?

I don’t have specific must listen road trip songs but go with my mood. This means that when I listen to the same song back home, I am taken back to that particular road trip.

  • Do you believe in destiny?

I do believe that we meet certain people or experience certain things in life that we are meant/ destined to, but that we are free to make choices on how we wish to deal with these experiences.

  • Share your secret blogging advice with everyone

Blog link ups. It is not a secret but blog link ups are a great way to come across other bloggers, who blog on similar themes as you do. Since I participated in my first travel blog link up back in May, I have come across over 100 travel blogs which I enjoy reading.

  • Train, car, ship or plane travel? Which one do you prefer?

Trains. I prefer to travel by trains over land.

  • Introduce your blog in three words

A traveler’s tales.

Passing on the blog award, I am delighted to name my 11 nominations for the Sunshine blogger award.

  1. Mandy @Emm in London
  2. Carolann @Finding Ithaka
  3. Lauren @Lauren on Location
  4. Michelle @Michwanderlust
  5. Cathy @Mummy Travels
  6. Van @Snow in Tromso
  7. Clare @Suitcases and Sandcastles
  8. Isabel @The sunny side of this
  9. Katy @Untold Morsels
  10. Elizabeth @Wander Mum
  11. Marcella @What a wonderful world

If you choose to pass on the blog award, please display the sunshine blogger award logo in your post as well as answer my five questions for you.

  1. Why do you travel?
  2. Do share a travel experience that moved you deeply.
  3. Which is your current dream destination?
  4. What blogging advice would you give for other travel bloggers?
  5. Do share a motivational quote or short verse that has often inspired you.

Have a wonderful day!

Tonlé Sap – a photo tour

On our last day in Siem Reap, we had requested our guide to take us to a floating village. He took us on a boat trip on Tonlé Sap, a seasonally inundated fresh water lake which is an UNESCO biosphere reserve. This was the lake that maintained the Angkorean empire and to this day, affects the lives of rural population. The houses have been built on stilts to withstand the seasonal surge of the river.

Here’s my photo story of life on the lake.

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Have you visited a floating village? What has your experience been like?

[I am linking this post to:

*Wanderful Wednesday, hosted by Snow in Tromso, Lauren on Location, The Sunny Side of This and What a Wonderful World]
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Exploring Pettah

I have never been a fan of the crowds and traffic congestion in and around Pettah, Colombo, so have mostly avoided it, until and unless I have to go there for a specific purpose such as catching an inter-city train or bus.

So, if you are like me, someone who avoids congested routes but still interested in seeing some of the historical sites within Pettah and at its outer edges, I would recommend the following walking route on a weekend morning or late afternoon. Weekends are relatively quieter in Pettah than weekdays.

The best place to start a walk through Pettah is at the Khan clock tower, at one end of Colombo 11.

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Khan clock tower

The clock tower was built by the Khan family of Bombay in 1923 for the people of Colombo. Walking around the clock tower, take the Main Street (which was known as the King’s Street during the Dutch colonial period). The Main Street is packed with shops selling clothing and can be a good bargain for those looking to buy sarees and kurta tops.

I suggest a mini detour, via 1st cross street, to visit the Dutch museum on Prince Street.

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Dutch museum

The Dutch museum used to be the Dutch Governor’s residence in the country. It does not have much in the way of artifacts to exhibit or stories about the lives of its former residents, though the building in itself is quite interesting.

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View of building from the inner courtyard

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Inner courtyard at Dutch museum

It is a pity that the Dutch museum does not reach up to its potential and that it is in a dilapidated condition now. I would very much like to see the Dutch Burgher Union, for example, take a hand in making it a more interactive type of museum.

After your visit to the Dutch museum, return to Main Street via 2nd Cross street and continue your walk.

Look to your left for the beautiful red mosque.

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Red mosque

The Jami Ul-Alfar mosque, more commonly known as the red mosque, was built by the Muslim community in Pettah in 1909.

Continuing on the main street, look to your right when you reach the intersection of the 4th Cross street. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, you will see an old bell tower. The bell is supposedly from an old Portuguese church from the 16th century. The Dutch had it installed at the Kayman’s gate bell tower, at the foot of Wolvendaal hill.

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Kayman’s gate

Continue along Main Street and you will find the old town hall and market on your right. The town hall was built in the 19th century during the British colonial period. One can ask to see inside the old town hall.

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Old Town Hall

From the old town hall, continue on Sea Street for a very short distance before turning onto Sir Ratnajothi Saravanamuttu Mawatha. Continue walking until you reach Wolvendaal church or the Dutch Reformed Church, which is actually within the Colombo 13 zone (Kotahena).

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Wolvendaal Church

The church is the 2nd oldest church built by the Dutch in Sri Lanka, the oldest one is at the Galle fort.

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Wolvendaal Church facade

The building of the church was initiated in 1749 by the Dutch United East India Company, Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC). The doorway to the church still has the same old lock and the church has a lot of interesting tombstones within its premises.

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VoC logo on the church gate

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Tombstone at the church

There is a small inner room with a gallery of old paintings and photos that are open to visitors and church society members are generally happy to answer your questions provided that they are not preparing for services.

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Photo gallery at Wolvendaal church

After exploring the Dutch Reformed church/ Wolvendaal church, walk down Vivekananda hill until you reach K.B.Christie Perera Mawatha. Walk a little to your left and continue along Jampettah Lane.

The front entrance of Ponnambala Vaneswara temple is on Jampettah lane. This Hindu temple for Shiva is an interesting temple with an interior built entirely from black granite, giving it the feel of an ancient South Indian stone temple. Originally built in 1856 by Ponnambalam Mudliyar, it was rebuilt in granite by his son, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan. The best times for visiting this temple is before 11 am and after 4 pm.

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Ponnamabala Vaneswaram

Exit the temple, via its back entrance onto Shrimath Ramanathan Mawatha and walk towards the church that you see on your left hand. St. Anthony’s church is considered a powerful church where people of all religious faith visit and make fervent prayers. During the Dutch colonial period when Catholicism was banned from the island and priests carried out sermons from hiding places, Fr. Antonio supposedly masked himself as a merchant. The Dutch subsequently had found out and came in search of him. He found refuge with a fishing community who asked him to do something about the sea erosion. According to the church website, a miracle happened after Fr. Antonio planted a cross and prayed at the beach and the sea receded. The fishing folk were converted and the Dutch authorities gained some respect for the priest and allocated some land for him to carry out his sermons. The current church is in the same premises where Fr. Antonio started openly having his sermons. He brought an image of Anthony of Padua and installed it in the church. When he passed away, Fr. Antonio was buried within the church.

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St. Anthony’s church

I am sure you would want to have some refreshments after all this walking and exploration. I would recommend trying out Sri Suryas, a vegetarian restaurant right next to Kathiresan kovil on Sea Street and within a short walking distance from St Anthony’s. Do try out their delicious Chennai style filter coffee and tasty vadai, which is a lovely way to end your walking tour of Pettah and the edges of Kotahena or a refreshing stop before you explore the streets of Pettah more.

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[I am linking this post to City Tripping#41, hosted by Wander Mum and Mummy Travels]

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Travel Notes & Beyond

Special Six: Beijing Experiences

During my travel around China with half my APLP cohort, I had the opportunity to explore a little of Beijing in-between our meetings and discussions. So, in addition to the must visit Forbidden City and some of the places in our Discover Beijing challenge, I highly recommend the following special six Beijing experiences which I enjoyed most.

1. Relax at the Summer Palace

We had a free morning on the day of my birthday so some of us decided to visit the Summer palace. After a delicious breakfast of steamed dumplings at a local specialty breakfast place, we took two cabs to the palace ensuring that one of the two Chinese speaking people in our group was in each of the two cabs. After getting our tickets, we walked around the summer palace.

The summer palace, a World Heritage site, has its origins dating back to the 12th century Jin dynasty though subsequent dynasties have added to the original structures and landscape designs of the 2.9 square kilometres palace area.

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Photo credit: Mami Sato

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After wandering around the temple and going up to the summit of the Longevity hill, we walked down to the lake area, where the boats were. A few of us decided to go for a boat ride on a self-paddling boat,instead of waiting in the long queues for the large dragon boats.

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Photo credit: Mami Sato

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Despite the heavy smog, I enjoyed my visit to the Summer Palace. The palace had a very pleasant and tranquil vibe and I would recommend walking around the palace and taking the boat trip on Kunming lake.

2. Visit Peking University 

Peking University in Haidian district is considered China’s leading university and it has a very interesting history. It is China’s first modern national university founded in 1898. It replaced the ancient Imperial Academy, as part of the hundred days’ reform. Therefore, the university campus area has an interesting mix of ancient structures and modern buildings which make it a very fascinating place to visit.

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I was most intrigued by the beautiful lake, as you can see from my photos above.

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I was also fascinated by the pretty buildings with their intricate roofing and creepers weaving themselves along the walls and the green trees besides them.

3. Enjoy a special dining experience at the Red Capital Club

The Red Capital Club at 66 Dongsi Jiutiao Dongcheng district is an interesting dining venue in a historical Hutong neighbourhood. Said to have been the former home of a Manchu princess, the club has been restored and designed to preserve the lovely architecture as well as create a museum dedicated foremost to the Communist party of the 1950s as well as a tribute to the Qing dynasty. The club is a kind of living museum and one can choose to stay at the place or just enjoy a meal and explore the club’s public rooms.

According to Lawrence Brahm, the founder of the red capital heritage foundation, who also founded the NGO Himalayan Consensus Institute in 2005 and the Shambala Serai Group of social enterprises in 2011, the foundation established in 1999 is the first social enterprise in Beijing. The Foundation restored a few homes, including the club venue, in the Dongsi neighbourhood and converted them to sustainable businesses, which has led to the heritage protection order being given for the neighbourhood.

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Photo credit: Michelle Taminato

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Photo credit: Mami Sato

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Photo credit: Michelle Taminato

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Photo credit: Michelle Taminato

The restaurant menu is in line with the theme and boasts of using recipes that were favourites of Chinese leaders across the centuries.

4. Browse through the collection at Bookworm, a delightful bookstore

Bookworm at Nan Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang district, is a place with a lovely vibe. It is a coffee shop/ English bookstore/ library/ event space all rolled into one store. We were there on the afternoon of my birthday, for a little gathering held at the event space of the store. While waiting for the event to start, I enjoyed browsing through the books as well as enjoying my coffee and tiramisu treat.

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5. Walk around an old Hutong 

During our time in Beijing, we stayed in an old Hutong neighbourhood. While hutongs are considered to have been introduced in the 13th century, they obtained a distinctive flavour during the Ming dynasty when neighbourhoods were planned in concentric circles with the Forbidden city at the center and the aristocrats and high ranking officials closer to the Forbidden city and the merchants and artisans in the furthermost circles.

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Photo credit: Mami Sato

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Photo credit: Mami Sato

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Photo credit: Mami Sato

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Photo credit: Mami Sato

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Photo credit: Mami Sato

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Photo credit: Mami Sato

While many hutongs have now given way to modernization and been replaced by modern buildings, there are still some old Hutong neighbourhoods and if you decide to stay in a guesthouse in such a neighbourhood, you are in for a special treat as you walk around the old neighbourhood.

6. Enjoy a traditional tea experience

We had our final morning in Beijing free for doing anything we left for the last minute. Our group broke up into smaller groups to go for some sightseeing or shopping, as per their interest. I was not in the mood for sightseeing or shopping but I was interested in visiting a traditional tea house, before we left China. My room-mate decided to join me in this little trip to Lao She tea house, near Tiananmen square. The tea house is named after the Chinese novelist, Lao She, who was famous for his 1957 play ‘Teahouse’.

The tea house was an interesting experience and I enjoyed the jasmine green tea, which was in the form of a dried ball that blossomed as hot water was poured over it.

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My recommendation is that you do go through the tea menu carefully and ask for recommendations from the tea guide as the tea sold here is very expensive and several are along the USD 500 price range. I personally preferred to focus on the tea as it is an experience in itself and forego the food or snacks or the theatre performance, which can add to your hefty bill. After trying out this special flower tea, I simply had to splurge on a small gift box for home.

Have you tried any of these six special experiences? Which experience was your favourite or which would you like to try out?

[I am linking this post to
*Monday Escapes #41, hosted by My Travel Monkey and Packing My Suitcase
**City Tripping #40, hosted by Mummy Travels and Wander Mum
***Wanderful Wednesday, hosted by Snow in Tromso, Lauren on Location, The Sunny Side of This and What a Wonderful World ]

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Travel Notes & Beyond

An afternoon in the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, a World heritage site since 1987, was the site of the Chinese Imperial Palace from the 15th century Ming Dynasty to early 20th century Qing dynasty. The Forbidden City houses the Palace museum, one of the most visited museums in the world. As the Forbidden City contains around 1000 buildings, one would need to visit the place over a few days to visit them all. My friends and I simply walked along the central axis from the south gate to the north gate taking in the structures along the way.

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Close up view of the city wall and its intricate roofing

Walking into the outer city through the Meridian Gate, one has a a lovely view of the Gate of Supreme Harmony. During the Ming Dynasty, the Emperor held morning court sessions with his Ministers here while in the later Qing dynasty, it was used for ceremonial functions only.

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view of the Gate of Supreme Harmony from the courtyard of the outer city

I saw the movie ‘The Last Emperor’ after my visit but I would recommend your seeing it before your visit to the Forbidden City, if you haven’t seen it yet. The movie, filmed mostly at the Forbidden City, provides an interesting glimpse into the life of the last Emperor of China, who abdicated in 1912.

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Bridge over the Inner Golder Water river

Crossing the little bridge, we entered the Gate of Supreme Harmony to come across the center of the complex, three halls on a marble terrace. The largest, the Hall of the Supreme Harmony was the venue of important official ceremonies.

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Sun dial on the terrace of the Hall of Supreme Harmony

Behind the Hall of Supreme Harmony is the smaller Hall of Central Harmony, where the Emperor used to rest before or between ceremonies. The third of the halls in this square is the Hall of Preserving Harmony, which was used for rehearsing ceremonies.

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Throne at the Hall for Preserving Harmony

Beyond the Hall for Preserving Harmony is the inner city, the home of the Emperor and his family. The center of the inner city had another set of three halls – the Palace of Heavenly Purity which was the official residence of the Emperor, the Palace of Earthly Tranquility, the official residence of the Empress and between the two halls was the Hall of Union.

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Palace of Heavenly Purity

Walking beyond the inner city halls, we came across the Imperial Garden. A key hall within this garden is the Hall of Imperial Peace.

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I found that I liked the Imperial Garden best because it not only seemed tranquil, but also had the atmosphere that people had been happier here than they had been in the ceremonial halls in the outer and inner courts.

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My friends, Michelle and Emma, were happy to reach the end of our walk through the Forbidden City and eager to find some place to eat as they had skipped lunch and were very hungry.

Exiting the Forbidden City at the north end, we came across a major bus stop as there were many numbers marked on the road and different buses would stop at the number corresponding to its bus number. Intrigued, we decided to take a bus to ‘Wangfujing’, as I recollected it was a shopping area nearby and bound to have restaurants.  After talking to other commuters, we found that the bus to Wangfujing was 103 so we waited at the stop, which had the number marked on the road. However, when a bus which was not 103 came by, some of the people we had asked earlier indicated that we should get in. To make sure that that bus went to Wangfujing, I asked the driver, “Wangfujing?” and he nodded but didn’t take the money I gave for our three tickets. He pointed to the back so we went in. There was a person shouting at the back, which was presumably the conductor of the bus. It was not really different from the crowded Sri Lankan public buses, where the ticket conductor would keep shouting for people to move so that more people could be fit in yet remember with ease if each passenger had paid for their tickets and not. So, the experience was not a culture shock to me as it was for my two friends.

We were not sure which stop we had to get down and we knew it was not so far away from the Forbidden City stop so we kept asking if it was the stop for Wangfujing at intervals. When we came past an area, where we saw a sign on one of the stores that said in English ‘Wangfujing road’, we immediately got out of the bus at the next stop and and walked along the main road till we came across a restaurant. We walked into it and found that the staff were undergoing a briefing and prep talk by their manager before the restaurant opened for the evening but they were courteous and asked us to come and sit inside and gave us the menu. Fortunately, there were English names printed under the Chinese names and we were able to order our dinner without problems.

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After dinner, when we emerged from the restaurant, we saw the pedestrian street across the restaurant was lined with lighted stalls and crowded with people. We decided to walk across the street, which I later learnt was the Wangfujing snack street located in Dongcheng district. A place where commercial activity has taken place since Ming dynasty. Though we did not feel like eating, as we had just had a full dinner, we decided to try out one of the candied fruits.

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I would recommend eating at Wangfujing snack street so you will need to time your visit there as it seems to come alive only after 6pm.

We decided to take the cab back to our hutong. This was the first time that we were taking a cab without a Chinese speaking friend in the cab with us but we felt ok as we did have the hotel card, written in Chinese, with us. We did find it difficult to get a cab to stop for us though and several of the cabs quoted an inflated price of 100 yuan for the ride back to our Hutong. After refusing a few cabs, we finally managed to negotiate the price down to 60 yuan. We were quite proud that we had managed to negotiate with a cab driver, who didn’t know English, using some basic Chinese words mainly numbers and short phrases that we had learnt during our stay.

This little half-day trip during our stay in Beijing was a memorable one.

[I am linking this post to:

*City Tripping #39, hosted by Wander Mum and Mummy Travels

**Monday Escapes, co-hosted by Extraordinary Chaos and Mini Travellers]

Wander Mum
Extraordinary Chaos