Monthly Archives: September 2013

Road to the West of Thrace


After a few weeks from my China trip, I had an occasion to see West Thrace for a couple of days. I love this part of Greece maybe because of my family roots. Before writing you what I saw there, I want to tell about my strange road adventure.

How many hours can you wait at the frontier of a country? 4 hours? 6 hours? When I left Turkey to cross the Turkish – Greek customs, I wasn’t having an idea about the limits of my patience to wait. Then I passed almost 15 hours waiting in the long queue of cars and buses. Yes, I waited for 15 hours to pass the frontier! That day was a special day because most of the Turkish families living in Germany and other European countries were heading to their homes after having finished their annual vacation in Turkey! Thus, I had an opportunity to observe sociologically the 3rd or 4th generations of Turkish on the roads! These are my observations:
– all Turkish families were having latest model cars full of fresh vegetables and fruits
– all of them are apparently used to pass lots of time on the roads, hence were very well organized: at the time of dinner the women prepared meals and shared these meals with others…
– new generations, ie, kids, don’t know very well Turkish, they were even pronouncing their Turkish names with a ‘German’ accent!
-all Turkish people are proud of themselves about how speed they will go to their homes in Germany. One man was saying to another: ‘after I pass the Greek frontier, I will go to Munich in 15 hours!’. After the Greek frontier, most had parked by the side roads to have a nap!

In sum, it was a different travel experience for me, when you spend almost one day on the road without moving, you have plenty of times to think about your life!

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My last post (but the least) from Beijing : Confucius Temple and The Imperial Academy


The day began with some clouds in the sky. I was targeting to see Lama Temple in the afternoon of that day but it started to rain which slowed my walking. Arrived to the Temple of Lama, it was already late, it was closed. But a few meters away from the Lama Temple, I discovered Confucius Temple still open to visit. It was wonderful – romantic hours waiting for me in the Confucius Temple!

Conficius welcomed us!

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Who is Confucius? I think that everybody knows about him. But I read some information about him to put here. He was born in 551 BC and his real name was Kong Qiu, Confucius is the name given to him by the West. In that era, Buddha was teaching in India and Socrates in Greece. Conficius was unlucky when compared to western or Indian philosophers, he had lived in a country where there were several separate states not unified yet by a ruler. He travelled and taught his wisdom to his disciples. His main focus was the relations between human beings not the search for the existence of God. Accordingly a human being should try to be good. Nobility is not determined by birth but by the attitude of mind and actions resulting from him. However most of the rulers didn’t like his teachings. The Communists too saw an ideological opponent in Confucianism. In the recent years, this attitude started to change.

Back to the Confucius Temple, what strikes me was the gates with names like Gate of First Teacher (the first gate at the entrance) and the Gate of Great Achievements. When you pass these gates followed by short halls and surrounded by very old trees and pavilions you arrive to the main temple where you can admire some ancient musical instruments, which are part of the Confucius teaching I believe.

Pavillions in the temple

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With the combination of silent drops of the rain, this is one of the perfect places in Beijing where you can listen to your inner rhythm.

Ritual in the garden of the Temple

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As old as Confucius times, isn’t it?

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The Imperial Academy is connected to the Temple by a side gate. It was a highest educational institution in China starting from 13th century (The Temple was also built in the same century). The importance if this institution when compared to the universities in the west is that even children of poor people might at end the school if they were good students. In other words, the school was open to all students who merit it and this is one of the major difference in the socio-cultural system in China. You enter to the Academy thru the Gate of Highest Learning. A rectangular place is surrounded with classes, nowadays this building is being used as a government library.

Imperial Academy….

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In the meantime, what Confucius was saying?

“Failure to cultivate virtue and review what I have learned , inability to practice what I have been told to be righteous and unwillingness to correct my mistakes – these are what worries me.”

My trip to Beijing- Summer Palace


This is the second magnificent park which I saw in Beijing. This is not a park actually, it’s the summer palace, was once the summer imperial palace of the Empress Cixi, which is also called Yiheyuan or the Garden of Cultivated Harmony. It was built in the second half of 19th century by the Empress Cixi, one of the powerful figures of the Chinese history. In the middle of the disputes of the heredity and right after the Opium War, she took the power and used the money which was intended to build the Chinese fleet this picturesque palace.

Lake Kunmig covers most part of the palace on the south. The north has a different architectural design with the canals and with the Hill of Longevity. It’s better to start the journey in the morning hours, from the north of the palace, thus you’ll see the old citizens doing their morning tai-chi sports and you will still have the energy to climb the rocks leading to the hill. At the north and around the hill you will see some giant buddhist temples – Temple of the Fragrance of Buddha is the most famous, and have a panorama of the lake and the palace from the top. Once you’ll be down, you’ll find yourself most probably walking under the roofs of the long corridor, a light and elegant wooden construction of 700 metres along the side of the lake where the ceilings and the rafters are decorated with colourful bird and flowers motifs. You may end your trip under these roofs at the point where you’ll admire the grandeur of the Marble Boat of the Empress (it was under renovation unfortunately while I was there).

And at the end of my short trip to there – because it may take a full day!- the calmness of the park had left its place to the tourist crowds and to the unbearable heat. It was time to leave but it’s one of the places in Beijing where I would definitely return one day!

Canals on the north of the palace…

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Morning Tai-Chi…

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Buddhist Temple

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View from the Longevity Hill

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Beautiful decoration on the Long Corridor

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Lake Kunmig

 

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Stone bridge on the south of the palace

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