Monday, January 16, 2017

Temple of Heaven

Hello again from China! We are still having a great time, though it is pretty darn cold here in Beijing. Last night (Thursday night) we all slept pretty well. Jonas had us all up again at around 2am for about thirty minutes. He had another Clif bar and some melatonin and went back to sleep. We all stayed asleep until just about 6am, so we’re getting there with this jet lag thing. I have heard it’s worse on the way back though.

Today (Friday) we took the subway to the Temple of Heaven. The subway station is about a ten minute walk from our hotel, and it continues to be a good way to get around. It’s only about 50 cents per ride, and the subway has these cool advertisements that play as flashing pictures in the windows when you’re traveling underground. It’s a good use of what would just be dark and wasted space. I’m glad we opted to tour most of the attractions in Beijing on our own. It’s nice to not be tied to a tour group or pay a lot of money for transportation we can figure out ourselves. It’s also been good to be able to go at our own pace, especially with Jonas.

The Temple of Heaven was really pretty, though it was quite cold and windy in parts. As we walked in, there was a long outdoor hallway-type area where groups of elderly people were playing cards, dominoes, and other games. They were pretty intense! 

Then we got to the main temple area, which was where emperors would worship heaven and pray for a better harvest. Its circular shape represents the ancient belief of a round heaven. Lots of other things there have numerical significance…twelve pillars for the months, four of something else for the seasons and nine steps up to each section representing something else I forget (Jonas ripped our tourist brochure that I was getting information from!). There were other areas to tour, but our favorite was probably the Wall of Echoes. We could stand on one side of the big circular area, face the curved wall and talk, and someone on the opposite side could hear us clearly.

On the way back out, we stopped at what we thought was a playground, but it was actually an outdoor gym for elderly people. They are certainly in shape! There were men doing parallel bars gymnastics moves, ladies stretching their legs up higher than I can reach mine, groups of women singing along to the music playing in the background, and all sorts of exercising going on. We had fun trying out some of the equipment.

We ate lunch at Pizza Hut, which was pretty interesting. They had pizza, pasta, and other random dishes like steak. We ate the Peking duck pizza, which was pretty good. It was kind of like a BBQ pizza. The stuffed crust was especially tasty. The same complex also had a Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subway, Dairy Queen, and KFC. Oh, and an incredibly overpriced toy market, which we didn’t let Jonas see!

On Friday evening, we went to the acrobatic show. It was a fun hour of entertainment, especially for Jonas. He loved the motorcycle routine, where up to five motorcycles drove around inside of a sphere. I'm not sure how they didn't kill each other! There were other good balancing acts and dances, and I'm glad we checked it out. It was another great day in Beijing!

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