From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Frank Cawley
I'll take you down to China Town
By Frank Cawley
3, Jul 2012 - 20:18

I travelled so far east I thought I was west.

I was in a Chinese takeaway in the Peoples Republic of Cork a few months back. There were quite a few elderly American tourists in the queue. The Chinese Irish gentleman behind the counter was having quite an animated colourful discussion with one of his ex class mates. They were discussing the state of the langers on Pana. Normal evening conversation of an evening. A Yank turned around to me and he says "My good God man, they teach your kids Chinese in Ireland too!" I said they do indeed sir, I learned how to write it but I can't read it.

So I decided to make a trip east to the Peoples Republic of China. It was a flying visit I had to cover with little time. As one man said to me you mean you were like a bull visiting a china shop.


This picture was taken in the forbidden palace in Beijing. One fellow traveller from Tallafornia informed me that he felt there was a lot of Chinese culchies on holiday in Beijing too, and that I shouldn't feel too left out. These monks were pointing at the Hibernian group of explorers; I think they were saying the pale faced man doesn't do too well in the 38 degrees of heat. How right they were.





The Chinese emperors built a summer palace to escape from the Beijing heat. This is a marble carved dock in the shape of a boat. The emperor would sail across to go visit his concubines on the adjacent manmade island, in the middle of the manmade lake that takes up the majority of the space in the tremendous opulence of the summer palace. A postman from Kildare reckoned he wouldn't row any boat out to an island full of women. He said he would swim. The summer palace was almost entirely destroyed by the Anglo French troops during the 2nd opium war in 1860. Its restoration became a project of empress Dowager Cixi, the last of the Qing dynasty rulers.


This is a kneeling soldier one of the seven thousand Qin terra cotta soldiers surrounding the mausoleum of the first Qin emperor. The first Chinese Qin dynasty ran from 211-206 BC. The emperor unified China, and he set up his HQ in the Mullingar (heart of) China in Xi-an pronounced She-ann. I have to say this is one of the most impressive sites I have ever visited. It's a UNESCO world heritage site and it contains thousands of life size clay warriors, in battle formation. The warriors were buried in underground trenches ready to protect the emperor in his afterlife. Each warrior is life sized and unique. The emperor sounded like a man that was in grave need of protection. He didn't unify China through compromise and dialog, he used the same methods as Brother James did quite a few students in St Patrick's primary. The warriors were accidentally discovered by a farmer digging a well in 1973. For €20 one of the farmer's sons could sign a book from the museum shop. He was stationed in secret outside the tea rooms outside the museum. We were not allowed to take pictures of him. The farmer who dug the well was rewarded with a medal, and nothing else, even though the museum site attracts millions of visitors every year. I guess this is one way his relatives and friends and indeed imposters can benefit financially.


A Yuan currently worth about 12c, I predict it will be worth a lot more soon.


This picture samples some of the fabulous art work in the TangBo art museum in Xian. I bought a picture of a tang dynasty warrior sitting high on a white horse. He's wearing a red cloak, and the horse is togged out in a green bridle. I was told this picture had good Feng Shui, and that it will protect my house. I told the sales rep, what's more important my friend, is the warrior is wearing the Mayo colours, and he might well, help me to bring back some luck, and as a result the Mayo team will win this years all-Ireland. The Kildare postman smiled; the Tallafornian was now convinced that culchies were taking over China.


McHale Park Beijing.


Some sound advice when climbing the great wall.


This is the view from the Eircom tower in Shanghai. It's known locally as the Oriental Pearl TV tower. You get a bird's eye view of the Shanghai skyline. It's similar to the Manhattan skyline, except the buildings are bigger and it looked like very few of them are any more than 10 years old. Shanghai is very similar to any big western city. They have a maglev magnetic train that connects the airport to the city. I hope Irish rail don't invest in a maglev train, you would be in Dublin before you would find your seat.


The Great Wall of China was designed to protect China from the Mongolian invaders from the north. They did a good job, because it's also designed to be difficult to climb, in case any of the enemy breached the north side of the wall. It's a short distance from Beijing. We landed there circa 2pm in the mid afternoon heat. There must have been 70 bus parking spaces in the car park, and we were the only bus there. No one else was foolish enough to attempt strenuous physical exercise in the sweltering heat. That's a major disadvantage of a guided tour; one is left at the mercy of the guide, who more often than not suited his own agenda rather than that of his customers. There were the unplanned trips to the silk, jade, and pearl factories, all offering souvenirs at inflated prices to the unwary visitor. If you're going to visit the great wall, then I would recommend you do it in March or April, in the early morning, or late afternoon.


I wasn't the only visitor to Beijing this summer; these swallows seem to be pretty content living in the forbidden palace. I'm not sure if they are related to the European swallows.

The Dragon with the girls tatoo

The Dragon with the Girl's Tattoo.


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