Sunday, July 15, 2007

Wandering Around

This afternoon I had hoped to explore the Underground City (Di Xia Cheng).

It's a maze of tunnels built in the 1960s, apparently able to hold 60,000 people in case of a nuclear attack.

But I had trouble finding this unique attraction. I tried to follow the directions in my guidebook, but came across several rundown hutongs, or Chinese-style old houses with tiled roofs, and some of them even in the process of being demolished.

I asked two taxi drivers to take me to the Underground City, but both had never heard of it.

So I kept walking down the main street and came across an ancient gate.

It turns out it's called Zhengyangmen, or Qianmen, "Front Gate". It's a landmark where the emperors used to pass when they went on their way to the Temple of Heaven from the Forbidden City. But because I got there just five minutes past four, the ticket office for the giant watchtower just closed so I was unable to go up and see a more panoramic view of the city.

But there was plenty to see on the ground, with little kids waving China flags, people posing for pictures or just hanging out.

Here's a picture of Zhengyangmen with someone's giant kite, one of many people were flying in the hazy sky.

I'll just have to find the Underground City another day.

1 comment:

ks said...

that is a great shot with a very good angle emphasing the kite. kite flying was one of the ways to obtain information about enemies. it was said that some huge kites could carry spies up in the air to observe the battle front.
zheng is forward , yang is sun, men is gate. so literally it sunward or front gate.