Scrubs in Beijing Fourth year medical student from Houston, traveling to Beijing to study Chinese medicine and Chinese beer

Friday at Temple of Heaven

CHINA | Friday, 4 April 2008 | Views [637]

Friday was a national holiday for tending the graves of the dead, so we went to sightsee as a group instead of going to the hospital. First, Henry walked us down the street aways from our dorm to see a tiny museum. Inside was the carefully preserved remains of an ancient water passage under a very old city wall. Then, we walked back and had our first experiences in Beijing taxis getting to Temple of Heaven. So long as you go in an "official" taxi, the rate is reasonable, they use a meter, and there is no smoking.

For RMB 45 or so, you can enter the Temple of Heaven Park on a "through ticket", which means you can enter the Temple. We paid up after waiting on a Chinese couple who cut in front of our whole line, and entered the gate. I took pictures of the ancient cypresses inside. The Temple of Heaven was built by Ming Emperor Yong Le in the 1400's as the place where the emperor would offer sacrifices to Heaven for China. He also built the original Forbidden City, so the architecture is very similar.

As you walk through the Zhaoheng Gate, you see many other gates beyond. First, we went up and over the Circular Mound Altar. Then through a gate through the Echo Wall, which surrounds the Imperial Vault of Heaven. This is a miniature copy of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, or the actual Temple of Heaven. It was used for storage. We passed some ancient Wentian Cypresses outside the Echo Wall, and the 9-Dragon Juniper, then through the Chengzhen Gate onto the Danbi Bridge. Danbi Bridge is a massive elevated walkway which leads from Chengzhen to the gates leading to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. In the middle of the bridge is a sloping, slightly elevated marble footpath over which the emperor was carried toward the temple. Finally, we made it to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, and took a zillion pictures. (In many of the presentations we've seen at the various hospitals, they use this image to open or close their slide show. It's a very famous Beijing landmark.) We exited through the Long Corridor, past the Seven-Star Stones, and out the East Gate, where we attempted to catch a cab.

Back to the dorm and ate at the Tourist Restaurant yet again, and then we were off to the Hongqiao Pearl Market. This is a 5 story building with many small stalls to buy pashminas, ties, makeup, electronics, North Face jackets, jeans, purses, and of course, pearls. It's a bewildering place of shouting vendors: "Hey lady, nice lady, you need a jacket?" You're expected to barter for your goods, and the asking price is usually steep. I paid an enormous sum for my "genuine" North Face jacket, but did better on some pearls, jeans (which were even hemmed for me while we were there), voltage adaptor, pashminas, and ties. After heading back to the dorm, I went with a group to Houhai, but we got lost and ended up meeting a different group. Houhai is a region around a lake north of Forbidden City with bustling nightlife. We found a restaurant to eat at where we could have ordered chicken with bull penis or goose intestine. We ordered some less exotic foods and ate well for RMB 25 or so each.

Back after our late dinner for some sleep, because tomorrow we're getting up early to go to Tianenmen and Forbidden City. About 9 pm, we heard a loud knock on our door. I went to investigate, and saw two of the international students through the peephole. As I was both shocked, and only clad in pajamas, I did not answer it. A few minutes later, our phone rang, and it was them calling. They wanted to know where we all were, because they were supposed to take us out to see Beijing. My roommate politely dissented, as we were already in bed, but they were very persistent, asking "what about tomorrow?" Finally, she agreed to take their names and phone numbers and leave the information on the common room door. We were a little disconcerted by their uninvited appearance, but we thought they might have been encouraged to do that by their teachers. Oh well, they meant no harm.

Tags: houhai, pearl market, shopping, sightseeing, temple of heaven

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