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Gone to Heaven

CHINA | Monday, 8 April 2013 | Views [295] | Comments [1]

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Executive summary: We visited the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. Magnificent, colourful
old buildings with lots of open areas.

We started the day with a coffee. Breakfast is one of the most difficult meals when travelling.
My stomach gets used to pretty much the same breakfast day in, day out, but when travelling it is
difficult to get the same food (impossible here). Anyway, at least we had a reasonable coffee
from Starbucks this morning.

While on food, I'll skip straight to dinner. We decided we would only go to a restaurant that at
least had pictures of the food. We went back to the Lama Temple area where we know how to find
reasonable local places to eat. Tonight we got spare ribs and barbecued fish and some veges,
washed down with jasmine tea. Far too much food as it turned out, but it was all very tasty. The
fish as BBQ'd, but then put in a pan with veges and water and placed on several burners on the
table. We were probably supposed to drink the soup after, and it probably would have tasted good,
but we were full. Great meal for A$40 (and we got to see Julia on TV into the bargain!)

To digress, I noted that Julia was one of the very few women at the Asia Pacific conference. 
Women still have a long way to go in politics in this region (there are some in politics but rarely in the top job).

Today was sunny and 16C, so not too bad. But the smog rating climbed again. It seems to be
roughly one week cycles. We had wonderful blue skies for a couple of days but the smog is coming
back today unfortunately. I have no idea what they are doing about it - apart from some people
wearing face masks (though I was told that the face masks are really just to keep the skin from
getting dark in the sun.)

Back onto my story. We went to the Temple of Heaven this morning. It is a massive park in
southern Beijing with ancient elaborate and colourful buildings spread over a wide area. The
locals make good use of the park (especially as this is the weekend - and a long weekend at that).
There were singers and dancers, and people with twirling ribbons, and groups playing cards or
knitting or playing some sort of draughts. We joke that chinese all look the same. Most don't
have facial hair - not even the men! (which maybe is why they often look younger than they are)
Most are shorter than Sue and I - which is an advantage travelling on the train for reading the
signs over their heads. Very few are overweight. But apart from that, there is a wide variety of
people here.

I haven't figured out their rules for walking. In AUstralia, we usually step to the left to avoid
running into one another. In Beijing I have tried left and right and staying in the middle, but
no matter what I seem to confuse them and there have been some near collisions. Also nearly had
several mishaps thinking I was safe on a zebra crossing with the Green Man. One time it was a
police car coming around the corner that nearly collected me. Other times it has been buses or
taxis or bikes. I haven't seen anyone hit yet, but I have seen some close shaves.

After the Temple of Heaven, we went to the Summer Palace directly across town (about 27km). We
used the subway. Reasonable speed and no traffic problems and only 30c no matter where you go.
I had been to the Summer Palace before, but this time coming in through the north gate there were
constant surprises. It is a very colourful and distinctive place. Lots of steps to climb, but we
took our time. From memory, it is about a 300ha site, with about 75% of that being a man-made (or
enhanced) lake. Unforunately the smog was affecting views across the lake today, but we still
enjoyed the beauty of the place (along with many others).

So today we got to visit two places. Some organised tours take in four or five sites in a day,
and probably tell the visitor much more information about the places. However, we just prefer to
wander around by ourselves and take our time, even if it means we don't get to tick off as many
boxes. One of the advantages of being retired! (We did enjoy the organised tours in Egypt, so
maybe it is just a matter of finding the ones that suit you.)

As I mentioned earlier, we had dinner in the Lama Temple region, which is where I stayed in 1998.
My memory was vague about the area (most things were organised for me then, meaning I didn't have
to pay attention). However, as we walked past the old hotel, images kept coming back. I recalled
the streets I had walked down in the hutongs, but as we got there I only found new multistorey
buildings. As we walked to the train station, Sue asked where it was and I described having to go
left around a corner with little shops and men out the front sitting and chatting. The station
entrance was where I expected but again there were multistorey buildings. It made me wonder where
all those people were from 15 years ago.

Now its time for sleep again. Goodnight




Hi Sue and Colin
I have just caught up on all your blogs now - I seem to have lost the email with the link on my iPad and my phone but had it here at work.
Seems like you are having a great time!
Looking forward to the next episode :-)

  Faye Apr 8, 2013 2:17 PM

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