Day 5: Stairs, Stairs, and a Mansion
Destinations: Bell Tower (钟楼), Drum Tower (鼓楼), Prince Gong’s Mansion (恭王府)
This was our last full day in China so we woke up bright and early to make sure we could see everything we wanted to see. We grabbed a quick breakfast from a nearby breakfast stand and we were on our way.
We decided to see the Bell Tower because there was a schedule drum performance at the Drum Tower in an hour or so.
The Bell Tower and the Drum Tower were used for official time keeping by the ancient Chinese government. Today, they’re tourist spots where you can visit and take some pictures.
The climb down from the tower is absolutely terrifying. I can’t imagine having to climb this in the dark. Each individual step is pretty steep and the staircase is quite long. There were several tour groups of grandpas and grandmas making this climb so maybe I’m just out of shape.
After we were done with the Bell Tower, we walked across to see the Drum Tower. There were still some time before the performance so we just wandered around the top of the Drum Tower for a while.
The exhibit had some of the original drums used in the Drum Tower. Those are encased behind glass and they also had replicas of the original so you can see what they looked like in their prime.
We didn’t have to wait long for the drum performance to start. The whole thing lasted about 5 minutes and it was really amazing. Definitely try to make it to one of the schedule performances (they have a sign of the times outside of the tower) if you can. Visiting the two towers did not take too much time and so we were on our way to Prince Gong’s Mansion soon after.
Prince Gong’s Mansion
The mansion originally belonged to a favorite court official of the Emperor. The Emperor’s successor eventually had the court official executed due to corruption and greed. The compound was then gifted Prince Qing and eventually the property was passed along to Prince Gong.
There was a cute mascot at the entrance that you can take pictures with. I’m not why sure it’s a fox though.
The compound is absolutely gorgeous and there is a lot of attention to details. I’m not sure if you can go into the living quarters because when we went, the door was locked but there were people leaving the room. Maybe we had arrived too late. But even if you can’t go inside and see, the architecture is breathtaking and just strolling through the compound is an experience in itself.
There is also a garden built into the compound and the garden is just as beautiful and well-design as the rest of the place. The garden included a pond purposely shaped like a bat (you have to be pretty high up to see the bat-shape) and an artificial mountain.
There is even a functional Peking Opera theater in the compound. You can purchase tickets to go inside and watch. We didn’t get a chance to go but it’s a pretty cool thing to do inside.
With this, our trip to Beijing, China has concluded. We walked back to our hotel and got ready for the second part of this trip–Japan.
End Day 6