80 Blogs Around The World: China
Long centuries a land of mystery, China has one of the richest histories and cultures in the world. For thousands of years, it was more technologically advanced than the West. Gunpowder, one of the gamechangers of war, was invented here. So were the earliest guns, primitive musket-like noise-makers, only effective in large numbers. Yet, they eventually created the complicated social-economic landscape we have today.
China is a gargantuan country, with a land mass second only to Russia. And it has one of the most spectacular cities in the world – Beijing.
If you travel to the Far East, visit China and her capital city. You’ll see astounding sites such as the Forbidden City, once home to majestic emperors whose very voice held the power of life and death. The sheer splendour is overwhelming: at 74 hectares, it is the largest palace complex in the world.
The emperors would experience a holy occasion called the Heaven Worship Ceremony. The Temple of Heaven was of such holy significance to the Chinese culture, that, as “sons of Heaven”, emperors could not have a larger palace than the “home” of Heaven. It is, in fact, larger even than the Forbidden City.
Then there’s the well-known retreat called the Summer Palace. And it featured a famous historical retreat: during the Second Opium War, an Anglo-French army forced the emperor to flee. The beautiful sea side imperial resort was set ablaze after being looted – with British soldiers bringing home the exotic dog breed, the shar-pei.These sweet-natured animals were regarded as a must-have curiosity, because of their folded skin, in Victorian high society.
The other extremely well-known animal from China is, of course, the Giant Panda. An almost comical creature, often depicted chewing on bamboo, you’ll see one if you visit the famous Beijing Zoo. In fact, the diverse zoo is home to over 450 animal species. Other Chinese animals include the milu deer, golden monkeys, and northeast tigers. But you’ll also see creatures from far-flung places like the North American bison or Australia’s feisty hopper, the kangaroo.
While pandas may bring to mind an animated movie featuring anthropomorphic animals kicking and punching in their unique styles, you’ll find martial arts action elsewhere.
In fact, China’s answer to Broadway or the West-End is the Red Theatre Beijing Kung Fu Show.
Perhaps one of the cultural aspects China is best known for is kung fu– which actually encapsulates a variety of different martial arts styles and philosophies: from the serene wing chunto the comical, but deadly, drunken boxing-style. The latter having sophisticated moves, strikes, kicks, and feints inspired by the movements of a drunkard.
Acting chops alone don’t cut it for aspiring actors – they need the discipline and mastery of a Shaolin monk to make it here. The breath-taking story told on stage is of a young boy’s journey. He yearns to become a Buddhist master, but meets distraction and earthly temptations on the metaphorical road. It’s full of high kicks and stunning athleticism – so anyone who loves old kung fuflicks, will love watching the spectacle live.
Then perhaps journey from Beijing to the Great Wall of China, one of the Great Wonders of the World. In fact, if you have the time, pack some food, get a sleeping bag, and take a warm jacket. You can try walking from one end to the other – it will only take you 18 months, since it’s over 8000 kilometres long!