Prince Gong’s Mansion

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We passed by this ancient drug store Tong Rentang in nicely build traditional Chinese courtyard, we thought this was the original drug store from some 300 years ago. It turns out the building was just an imitate.

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You could buy those glass bottles of yogurts off the touristy streets of Beijing, and then after drinking it, return to any shop that sells them and get 2 RMB back.

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My cousin wants to go to 恭王府 (Prince Gong’s Mansion). The mansion was first built by one of the the most intelligent and corrupt officer, HeShen (和珅)-  in history of China. To get there you had to pass this hutong reminiscent with old Beijing buildings.

Old Beijing houses have those little trunks stuck out on the top of their front doors. If they got two, it means a normal resident; if it’s four, it means someone in this house works in the palace; if it’s six, it’s an high officer; if it’s eight, it’s a member of the royal family.

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At the entrance of the mansion… you could see these pillars for miles…

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the front door,

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Something reminded me of the imperial palace.  Their gates were decorated with these huge dots…. apparently those dots means blessing..

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Among many things, this mansion is most famous for something under these rocks.  The rock itself resembles a dragon with its head resting on one end and its tail on the other

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A plaque explaining the treasure under the rock, an engraved character 福 (“fu”), drawn by the Emperor Kangxi when he was 19.  It is shaped so special that it resembles several blessings at once.  His grandmother, grand-empress, was so touched, that she got well from her grave illness and lived another 15 years.  Because of this, she wanted to keep this fu for future generations. So they left an impression on a rock…

When Mr. He was found guilty of corruption, he was given a death sentence and his household was thoroughly searched. All valuables from the family were taken into the imperial palace except for one thing, a big “fu”.  He stole this fu from the imperial palace and put it right under this dragon-shaped rock – in dragon’s belly.  Then he made both ends of the dragon cave so small that the emperor could not take it out unless he break the dragon rock.  The emperor does not want to break the dragon, which resembles prosperity, so this is the only treasure from Mr. He spared from the calamity.

However, the emperor does not want others to enjoy it either, so he sealed the cave.  Until 1950s, when researchers were studying this area, they figured something was amiss here and started digging….

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People lined up to touch the “fu”…. everyone hope to get its bless.  Our guide kept telling us 心诚则灵, meaning you will be bless only if you will

the backyard also features a huge pond, with fountains circulating the water

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and a little gazebo in the middle of the pond connected by a bridge

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Ducks still swimming in the water in the freezing temperature…

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duck houses

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the cabbages all looked sad and frozen in the snow

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Going up the dragon rock

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At the top of the dragon rock was a character 囍 or double blessing

a steep way getting off the dragon rock

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a shop selling red 福 (fu) plates, it decorated the entire tree trunk…

white jade door… the only one in the world

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Your typical square courtyard in Beijing.  Old houses in Beijing each family owns a courtyard and people lived according to fengshui.  When imperial era ended, family starts to break up and one courtyard could have lived several families, each taking a part of the building.

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The long building serves as a separation between the residence areas and the huge garden in the backyard, this used to be the building where Mr. He stored all of his treasures.  It has 99.5 rooms and used to store treasures with an estimated value 14 times that of the French King Louis XIV who lived around the same time period.

Another thing Mr. He was proud of – his 26 most beautiful wives, including 2 white Russians.  Though there were tens of thousands of beautiful women in the imperial palace, but the emperor at the time really only had 24 wives.

So He is indeed of man of “power, money, and women”

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roofs of these houses reminded me of those houses in Chinese movies.

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The mansion has a lot these square court yards next to each other, connected with doors and gates.   These beautiful big doors lead the way from the front of the mansion all the way to the back.

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The last time I rolled one of those was in outer Mongolia… these things were still everywhere in Mongolia…  You had to roll all of the in order for blessing

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putting my hand in the lion’s mounth

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Natural ice rink in near Beihai, the garden right behind the Forbidden City

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Had the most wholesome dinner for less than 10 RMB in one of the busiest traditional shopping districts.  We had dumplings for 5 RMB and then these flours folds with different meat fillings for 3 RMB

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Santa Clause standing in front of a traditional Chinese building, a hodgepodge of old and new, eastern and western.

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Though most of the sky scrappers along the main road, Chang’An Jie, are decorated with lots of Christmas festivities to attract shoppers and passersby.

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I have been wanting to come here for the longest time.  王府井 (Wang fu jing) is renowned for its interesting Beijing delicacies.

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Though this place is clearly ever more touristy.  All food prices were marked up considerably from the rest of the Beijing’s restaurants, not to mention Beijing restaurants is already more expensive than other places in China.

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We only found these grilled  lamb meats fairly acceptable…

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of course, we couldn’t dodge our way from the fried soybean noodles, an other Beijing delicacy.  This is almost twice the price as the last time, and the quality… relatively ok, though I’m disappointed that the same desserts were served only in half of the portion we got in the other place.

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We went to this shopping center with a huge Christmas tree half-decorated in these wishing-stickies… people wrote out their Christmas wishes and pasted them onto the tree.

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Waiting for our bus to go home in front of the Tian’an Men Square lights.

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My cousin insisted on trying out grilled donkey. I knew there were several donkey restaurants near my apartment, but I never knew what they are… so we tried the one right across from where I live.  It tasted like beef.

2 thoughts on “Prince Gong’s Mansion

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