The only things left for us to see in town (well, there is lots more, but can we get info on it?) is the Tomb of Huang Taiji. There are supposed to be three different tombs in Shenyang dating back to the very beginning of the Qing Dynasty, but we could only find two of them, and are only doing one.
We decided on Huang Taiji’s Mausoleum. Not because he was the very first Qing Emporer, but because it is the easiest to get to (and supposedly it is the most beautiful)!
It was pretty simple to get there, as it is on the metro route, and we had no problems in working it out. We do get a bit confused sometimes in the metros as not all exits are available after you leave the platforms. You need to know where you want to come out before you exit the system. We went out one side here, and could only go out exit A. We needed exit E. There was no way to connect to where we wanted underground. Only in China…
On the surface it was at least easy to orientate ourselves to the large river beside us, and cross the bridge, so it didn’t cause any problems.
Then it was a short walk to the entrance of Beiling Park. This is a large park that has been created around the Mausoleum. At the entrance there was some sort of opening ceremony. We think it was for a car company, as there were a fair few vehicles parked around the square. A large stage was set up in the centre, and there were people showing off their skills with swords, pikes and rope darts. Lion Dancers were getting ready backstage and other festivities were also going on. It was fun to watch for a little bit, but as we had no schedule of events, we didn’t hang around for too long. Buying or tickets (70 yuan each! Its a city park!) we headed in for the long walk.
Long walk is an understatement. The park has a large boulevard that splits the river off to one side, and a series of interconnected lakes on the other. The festive atmosphere continued inside, with street vendors selling overpriced potato on a stick and fairy floss. There were also really nice egg pancakes that they totally ruin by putting on weird sausages and all sorts of sauces.
The lakes were filled with dodgem-boats with little kids trying to sink each other, and the proud parents urging them on.
After walking past all of this and the potted plants and immaculate flower beds we came to the first gate. The entire complex is built from South to North with three sections. Passing through the first gate where people were paying to dress up as little Emperors or Empresses to get their selfies in front of the massive archways we entered an area of relative peace and quiet. Most people had only payed to enter the park area and our entrance ticket now separated us from the hordes of weekenders out to enjoy the park.
This next section led up towards the tomb itself. A few buildings were off to either side. These held a couple of small displays of artifacts. We would assume that they were from the tombs, but could have easily been from the palace we saw yesterday. They were fine examples of pottery, and a few bronzes. Comparable in quality and lacking in quantity to the palace as well.
Then it was onto the third gate and the mausoleum itself. This section was inscribed on the UNESCO lists in 2004, and achieved a AAAA rating in 2009.
Passing the last gate, we decided to climb the stairs to the wall first, and see what we could see. Most of what we could see was covered in scaffolding and green shade cloth. Seriously. The gate house was scaffolded. The Guard houses were scaffolded. In fact every building there was scaffolded and covered in shade cloth. And no one was working on it. Not just because it was the weekend. From the amount of dust, no one had worked on any of these buildings in years. They were just covered up. We could say we were surprised, but in honesty we weren’t.
From this top point we could walk all around the mound that is the tomb of the great Emperor Huang Taiji. It was built on his death in 1643 and is supposed to also house his Empress Xiao Duan Wen. Now it is just a sandy mound built up with a tree on top. Honestly, from the outside it is not that impressive. On completing the circuit, we went down to see where we could enter into the tomb. We couldn’t. There is a tiled section behind the last building where the entrance of the tomb would be, but it has been completely rebuilt. (You cant tell me that the tomb has never been opened, as I would refuse to believe it) What we had seen and done was all you could see and do. The most beautiful tomb / mausoleum apparently only referred to the buildings leading up to it. Most of which were covered in green shade cloth! Oh well, at least we had achieved something for the day.
Back through the courtyards, past the statues of his favorite animals that we forgot to mention before. These were his faithful small horse and tall horse that saved his life numerous times, the war camel that defeated numerous foes, and the Elephant that had lost his description. Back past the people dressed up in the clothes of yesteryear, and the people just out to enjoy the park on a sunny Saturday and out the entrance to where that thing was still happening with the cars.
Back to the subway, and hotel, picking up our bags and walking back to the train station where we got tickets for Panjin. Then we were out of there…
A few hours later we arrived in Panjin. Time to find another hotel… Not a big city, hopefully it would be easier right? Nope. We asked a number of places. All no. Two places were more than helpful though, and the first gave us a name in Chinese, along with directions for a taxi. We decided not to follow that and kept walking. We did find a hotel that would take us. It was advertising rooms for 139 yuan but wouldn’t take us for less than 250, so we kept looking. The second helpful hotel came up, and we wish we could have stayed there as the guy was so nice. He gave us the name of the same hotel, and even organised the taxi for us! He was the sweetest guy and proved that the Chinese can do service if they can be bothered. Bundling us into the taxi he waved us off.
A few minutes later we arrived at the hotel. It was an older one, and rooms started at 200 yuan for a new style room, or 139 for the older ones. We chose the old one. It would serve us, and if you don’t look too closely it is not too bad. The bed is almost comfortable, and with the lack of high powered lighting you can hardly notice the peeling paint. Yet it has a decent shower (again don’t look too hard) and a pedestal toilet as well as a power point so all is good!