by Desiree Tan
It may not be a popular choice to visit Beijing in this freezing weather, but I wanted to see firsthand the rich history and culture of the city which had hosted the recent Olympics.
Immersion in the Summer Palace
Accompanied by the serene Kunming lake, the Summer Palace (Yihe Yuan) is set against the lush Longevity Hill.
History has it that Emperor Qianlong had 'portraits' made on the ceiling in the hallway for his mother, creating an effect akin to viewing an art gallery when passing through the corridor.
I was awed by the people who had painted the ceiling without the aid of an air brush or modern art equipment.
Marching towards Tiananmen Square
The world's largest parade square sits in the centre of Beijing and is said to represent the heartbeat of the capital.
I assumed that it was just another plain quadrangle for assembly.
However, wave after wave of melancholy swept over me when I learned that thousands of protesters had died on this very same ground during the bloody Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Exploring the imperial palace
Palace Museum (Gu Gong), popularly known as the Forbidden City (Zijin Cheng), is the imperial palace where the emperor and his royalties reside during the winter.
Apart from the palace's capaciousness, I was astounded especially by its construction that, again, had never received the luxury of aid from modern machinery.
What puzzled me most was the foundation that had been built without cement and metal, whom had nonetheless stood against the test of time for several centuries.
Visting the Temple of Heaven
I was delighted by the Hall of Prayer at Tian Tan, which is a 'triple-storey' circular exterior built on levels of a marble stone base.
However, take a peek inside and you will be surprised to find that it is merely a deep hollow cone put together with symbolic designs.
Trekking up the Great Wall
Before I set foot upon The Great Wall, I perceived an unimpressive flight of staircases.
Not until I found myself climbing on all four limbs did I conclude that such a task required good stamina. Every step is uneven, and each flight becomes increasingly steep. Although descending is allegedly easier, getting down the Great Wall took me double the amount of time to ascend.
My judgement was impaired due to the uneven level of steps, so stretching out to reach for the next was a real challenge.
I was blown away by how this magnificent border had been constructed via pure manual labour... Seeing the Great Wall unfold before me was simply breath-taking.
This trip had me discover the magnificence of a framework that lies not in the architecture itself, but in how we look at it.
Are we looking at it from today's perspective or are we viewing it from a historical angle?
If I was not prompted to realize that these historical abodes had been built manually without the help of modern technology, I would have thought less positively of these buildings.
While some people see it, some people don't, which probably explains why everyone holds a different perspective of beauty.
Desiree Tan is a university student based in Singapore.
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