23.11.2018 - 26.11.2018
I took the same train at 11 p.m. on Thursday night to arrive in Shenyang in the morning. The night before, I had called the hostel I'd be staying at, Lazy Bee. I had gotten two different sets of directions, one from Baidu Maps and the other from YHA China. It was a good thing I called, because they had moved locations. I talked to the owner Bonnie on the phone and she told me that I should not follow YHA's directions. The Baidu directions were the right ones. OK, great.
I showed up at about 8:30 and it was easy to find from the main road, due to the bright yellow awnings on the outside of the building.
I was given a really nice bed in the dorm, the biggest I've ever had in a dorm! With lots of shelf space and privacy. The whole place was brand new and designed very well. Everything was spotlessly clean and it was very quiet on such a chilly winter's weekend. There wasn't a lot of heat in the whole place, and no toilet paper or towel provided, but that didn't surprise me a whole lot. I always bring my own, so that's fine.
I went out looking for breakfast, not really caring what it was. I saw a restaurant with all the windows steamed up inside, so I went in there. I asked the waitress what to order and she brought me some beef soup dumplings. They were extremely fresh and pretty good but a little bland, even with the chilli garlic vinegar sauce mixed to my own liking.
The mission for Friday was wandering around the Imperial Palace. This particular one was in use in the 17th century for a few Manchu emperors. Eventually they took over most of China and they moved the capital to Beijing, but for a while they stayed in Shenyang. They were nomads and horse-riding people, similar to the Mongols, so the emperor lived in a tent for a while. Eventually some buildings were built that resembled the tents he was used to.
There was a stele that described one of the emperor's devoted servants, who volunteered to die alongside his master at the time of the emperor's death.
Then there were some really unique containers decorated with elephants
And these wooden medallions that were used for transmitting official messages.
There were lots of rooms to explore including the main throne room, where important rituals and other political deals took place.
This was the tallest building in Shenyang at the time. The emperor often went up there with his harem and had parties until the sun came up.
Then there was an opera house, which was the site of massive banquets.
There were lots of gates and doors and walls to walk around, as in any palace/mansion in China.
My next mission was to go to the tomb of Huang Taiji, the second Qing dynasty ruler. I thought it was a nice park with a big frozen lake. I took the opportunity to go on a big hike all the way around the park, with actual dirt trails. Really rare in China.
There is an old elm tree growing on the top of his massive grave. I think that's the best way to go, don't you? Not only is the tree keeping you company but there is also a large park for people to enjoy for a really long time as well.
I was super hungry for dinner after that long jaunt around the park, so I went to a fancy vegetarian place mentioned in my Lonely Planet. This time it was real easy to find, I was not expecting to get there too quickly. They made some bean-based lamb kabobs and wasabi flavoured kung pao "chicken".
I had no more things on the list to do except go see a big statue of Mao. You can see that some of the people at the bottom of the statue used to be holding their "little red books" but they have since been removed.
There were also a few heritage buildings, including the train station which is also beautiful on the inside.
I had circumnavigated the whole downtown core and eventually found myself in front of this old Catholic church.
I sipped my tea while waiting for the second vegetarian meal of the weekend at 4:30 p.m. I liked the first one so much that I looked for another one. While this one was not as luxe as the first one, it was still delicious and some really nice people and monks run it.
It was only about 6 p.m. when I got back to the hostel to pick up my bags and my train didn't leave until 11 p.m., so I chatted with a nice American lady who writes apocalyptic zombie fiction based in Shenyang... Bonnie the hostel owner and a couple of her friends.