Monday, December 31, 2007

"Forbidden City", Beijing

Kina 582
Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
Another one of the highlights of the trip to Beijing, was the Forbidden City. The major artworks from the palaces are now in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, of course, but the buildings remain, and are impressive. Having seen movies set here, only makes the enjoyment higher, as I can imagine how the palaces looked like on the inside.

One factor that was not contributing to the enjoyment, however, was the renovation work going on - but that must be done, I guess. Another factor was the interesting "electronic map and audio guide" system.

In theory, the audio guide works wonders: you just walk around in the immense complex, and when you come to new sights, the audio guide starts telling you about it. No hassle, just information when you need it. Wonderful!

In practice, it didn't work quite like that. Quite often, the voice would start talking about the next building while you were still looking into one. Or just as often, it wouldn't start talking about the building you was walking around until after you've left it. As we were two persons walking along together, we would wish that the talking started and stopped about the same time, as that would leave some time for us to talk among ourselves. This did not work - my colleague's guide would start talking, and I would be walking desperately around waving my device to make that start as well. I would succeed at the time hers stopped talking again... :-)

Yes, I know I'm making a big fuss about little. The Imperial Palaces are wonderful. They should obviously not be missed on a trip to Beijing. And make sure to have seen a few movies beforehand, for instance "The Last Emperor", to fill the palaces with life for you.

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Kina 594

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Beijing's Summer Palace

Kina 060gimp
Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
And here's a photo from the "summer palace". This is where the emperors went in summers, when the Forbidden City was too forbidding... I, on the other hand, went to the Summer Palace in winter, when the lake was frozen. That was also great - but it helps to be a Norwegian and being used to dress for cold temperatures...

The Great Wall of China

Kina 145gimp
Originally uploaded by BjørnS.
I spent a week in Beijing before the holidays, and had the pleasure of going to the Great Wall. The temperature was about -3 C, which probably contributed to the relative peace and tranquility. (I had heard rumours that you would have to walk for an hour to get away from the tourist masses, but for us, it was more like 10 minutes...)

This is probably one of very few times in my life that I will be awestruck by a wall... Of course, the little part of the wall I saw was not particularly impressive, the impressive part is that it goes on and on and on... Perhaps the most impressive part is just to get the idea and to have the power to make it a reality...

Amazing, amazing, amazing!

(Having lunch on the great wall, eating Finnish "rugbrød" with liver paste, was a great idea by the way - although the Chinese tourists seemed to find it a bigger attraction than the wall...)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Movie: Ratatouille

A cute. little thing, this. The rat Remy has a wonderful talent for cooking, and finds that he should try to do what he is best in, instead of leading the usual rat life that his father, his father's father and every father before him has lived.

This ensures lots of mildly funny situations. However, the human characters (such as the boy Linguini) are decidedly less charming than the rats - as is often the case in animated movies. So although the movie is okay for killing an hour or two on an intercontinental flight, it is not really memorable.

(It should be noted, though, that movies should be seen in cinemas, not in airplanes...)

Ratatouille (2007)
Directed by Brad Bird

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nude protest

The Norwegian government has nothing to fear from this type of protest at this time of year - nude protests will never become a Norwegian fashion in winter... The video is from The Philippines.