Monday, March 8, 2010

Mausoleum of the Nanyue King

We arrived a little past 11:00 AM in Guangzhou (also known as Canton), the capital of Guangdong province, after a 27-hour train ride from Xi'an. We had 9 hours to kill before checking in for our 10:15 PM Manila-bound flight. Just enough time to visit one of the best museums in China.

Inside the museum. Exhibit on the second floor.

The main train station (different from Guangzhou East Railway Station) is linked with the metro's Line 2. The next station to the south is Yuexiu Park. From here, the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King is just a few meters away.

But before going to the museum, we wanted to visit the Canton Tower (also known as TV Tower) first. We checked our map and saw that the site is not near any metro. We were contemplating whether we could afford a taxi or not and were walking mindlessly around the station when a kind metro guard asked, "Hello may I help you?".

We told him our dilemma and he said not to worry for the tower is just a 30-minute walk from where we were. He asked for a paper and pen and wrote down "I want to go to TV tower" in Chinese, so we could show it to other people in case we lose our way. He pointed at which exit to take before he left us.

Though we got the help we needed, we ditched the Canton Tower plan because we knew it will be difficult to walk for 30 minutes with our 10-kilo backpacks. The tower's not yet completed anyway. And so we decided to head straight to the museum.

The metro ticket counters were closed. We approached a vending machine and studied it like an alien specimen. Shervin tinkered with the touch screen, and praise the vending machine gods, we saw an [English] button.

Single journey tickets. Guangzhou

For short rides (up to 2 stations) the fare is ¥2. If you pay for a single journey, you'll be provided a green plastic token which you shall wave over a sensor to get through the turnstile. Upon exiting, you simply slip the token in.

Our train was not crowded at noon. We didn't have any problems making our way out of the station. Again consulting our map, we strolled southwards Jiefang Beilu Road in search of our destination. We found it in no time.

The building does not boast of traditional elaborate Chinese architecture. Instead, the exterior has modern, minimalist lines. Simple it may seem, but its engraved brick-colored walls are sure attention drawers.

Some of the museum's artifacts.

A metal detector stands guard at the entrance. To the right is a booth where you can purchase admission tickets. Visitors pay an affordable ¥12 each to get in (open 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM). Audio guide can be hired for ¥10. We asked where we could stash our bags and a staff directed us to the luggage counter. The attendant asked for passports, listed down our names, and handed us a claim stub. She then accompanied us to our locker and helped us squeeze our bags in.

The tomb was accidentally discovered in 1983 by workers on a construction site. It's 20 meters underground Xianggang Shan (or Elephant Hill). The owner is Zhao Mao, the second king of Nanyue of the Western Han Dynasty.

More than 1,000 well-preserved burial artifacts and 15 sacrificial victims were unearthed. The artifacts are on display in the 10 exhibit halls of the museum. The bronze masks were particularly interesting to me. The artwork reminds me of Tiki totem poles. I wonder if the design is originally Chinese, or was already influenced by trade. Guangzhou by the way is part of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, so I'm guessing it's probable.

Something for the little ones.

One of the highlights of the museum is Zhao Mo's burial suit made of thousands of jade tiles, connected by silk - known to be the first and only of its kind in the world (most jade garments are connected by silver and gold wires. Jade suits were believed to preserve the body after death, and also provide immortality.

The jade burial suit.

Pinay Travel Junkie confession: The burial suit is not allowed to be photographed. I hid myself away from CCTV cameras and waited for the museum guard to leave us alone. She was marching animatedly to and fro. Shervin said she was overdoing it, but actually, she was just exercising! I saw her stretching her arms and legs.

The mausoleum site is outside the museum's third floor and is protected by a Louvre Pyramid-ish roof. Visitors can freely explore the chambers.

Above the king's mausoleum.

There's nothing much to see in the chambers anymore since the artifacts have already been moved to glass cases inside the museum. But the tomb raiding experience can be pretty awesome.

It made us hungry too. I glanced at my watch. It was already past two in the afternoon and we haven't had lunch yet. I remembered the 7-11 we passed by on the way to the museum. We went back to the luggage counter and asked if they can keep our bags while we eat. She nodded and asked for our claim stubs. She wrote something on it in Chinese and gave it back. We smiled and assumed that's all we needed to do... Then we're off for a meal!


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bertN said...
April 12, 2010 at 1:47 PM

I think they are waiting for your second visit to confiscate your camera after they saw your post of the burial suit LOL. Just kidding.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
April 12, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Hahaha! I won't be coming back then. Scary!

Juana Kristina said...
January 4, 2011 at 5:21 PM

I wanna go there too! Someday! :D and you're one sneaky hippie, Ms. Gay! :P

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
January 4, 2011 at 5:47 PM

Juana Kristina, hahaha! Yup... I'm the sneaky hippie!

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