Monday, April 20, 2015

Beijing Part III: The Temple of Heaven and Exploring the City

We got an early start on our third day in Beijing, as we wanted to try to beat some of the crazy crowds we experienced the previous day at the Forbidden City.  Our first stop on this morning was to visit the Temple of Heaven.  The Temple of Heaven dates back to the early 1400s, and is one of China's iconic sites.  We left our hostel by 8 AM to make our way to the temple, at which point it was surprise, surprise....freezing outside.  There was actually a decent amount of snow still on the ground out by the temple when we arrived, which I'll admit was pretty beautiful.

Luckily, it seemed like we succeeded in beating the crazy crowds, which was a nice change from our experience the day before.  The temple itself was really beautiful and like many of the other temples I've seen, much more impressive in person than in pictures.

While we were walking around and taking pictures, a Chinese man came over and asked to take a picture with us (an all too familiar occurrence as a westerner in Asia), and afterwards he was trying to tell us something, but we couldn't understand what it was.  A few minutes later someone who spoke English told us that there was some kind of show going on soon and we had to move to the sides to clear way for the performance.

We moved to the sides and waited to see what was happening.  Then we waited some more...and some more.  Apparently "soon" wasn't really soon by out standards, and as the crowd got huge naturally the pushing began, which didn't make us too happy considering we were absolutely frozen by this point and getting a little cranky on account of our discomfort. 

Finally, the show began and there were tons of people who marched in with traditional Chinese clothes and flags.  After everyone marched in, different groups came to the center and did some sort of performance. It was interesting to see, but it was pretty long and repetitive and we had absolutely no idea what it all represented. 

By the time the performance ended, we were beyond frozen and it actually hurt my joints just to start walking again. Our number one mission was to find someplace warm and FAST.  Luckily, we saw a little bakery across the street and we were lucky to get there before the rush of people came in. We got some coffee and really delicious bread and sat in the warmth for a while while figuring out what was next.  

After defrosting a bit and getting some food we were in much better spirits and decided to head over to Yuanmingyuan Park because there was a festival going on for the Lunar New Year.  There were red lanterns everywhere and of course, lots of food stands.  While we didn't eat anything, we did enjoy walking around the park. 

After we finished at the park we decided to go back to the hostel to figure out our plan for the rest of the night (and to use a clean bathroom...we had already had two more extremely traumatic experiences this day).  We got something to eat and decided to head Wangfujing Street to do some souvenir shopping. 

One of the streets in this area sells all kinds of food....seriously, ALL kinds of food, including seahorses and scorpions.

Yep, those are seahorses.

We walked around for a while, but it was freezing and it was really crowded (noticing a theme here?)  We also weren't so successful in our souvenir shopping, so we decided to go back over to the huge mall located just across the street. The mall had tons of western stores and as we walked around Jen and I mentioned how it kind of felt like we were just back home--apart from the Lunar New Year decorations that were everywhere.


We decided to eat at a restaurant in the mall and had some very delicious dim sum for dinner.  We walked around for a bit more before decided to go back into the cold to make the trip back to our hostel.

The area around the mall.

We finally made it back to our hostel and our warm room to pack up our stuff for our early flight the next morning. Although our second day in Beijing had been a little rough, we had a much better time on our third day, and felt satisfied that we could leave China on a pretty positive note.  

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sarah,
    I have enjoyed looking through your blog posts. I am a teacher in South Carolina working on my doctorate and selected South Korea for a educational comparative project. I would love to be able to ask you some questions about your teaching experiences in the US compared to your experiences in South Korea. Let me know if you can find the time. I would really appreciate your insight and feel like I have already learned a lot from reading your blog.