Monday, September 27, 2010

Beijing, part 10: Temple of Heaven

We hopped on a bus, meaning to go to the subway, but by happenchance, the bus turned south and went right to our next destination, Tian Tan, Temple of Heaven.

But first, food. We wandered the neighborhood, but the back-alley restaurants frightened Chunlin. We therefore went to KFC.

s29 - KFC to Go
They deliver.

Half the chicken offered at KFC in China is Chinese-style fried chicken. Different seasoning and no breading. We also got a spicy chicken sandwich (American style!) and a Sichuan-flavored fajita wrap. No mashed potatoes for sale here, so sad. French fries, though!

And then, into the Temple of Heaven Park. Some local pay fifteen yuan ($2) just to get into the large park where they play cards, dance, and generally just hang out.

s31 - Temple of Heaven Long Corridor

s33 - Water Calligraphy

s35 - Chunlin Keeps It Up
We bought one of the weighted feather toys. Chunlin was good at it, since she used to play this game as a kid.

s38 - Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
The temples aren't really temples, but altars for sacrafice by the emperors. Thus, no monks or incense burning or statues. More like the many throne halls of the Forbidden City.

s39 - Inside the Qínián Diàn

s44 - Down the Heavenly Road

s46 - Imperial Vault of Heaven
The main buildings are all round because the circle was identified with heaven, as opposed to the square for the earth.

s49 - Round Altar to the South Gate
Near the south gate (the traditional entrance and apparently the tour-group entrance) is the Round Altar, which doesn't even have a building. It's a circular pyramid of sorts, with a large area for the sacrafices on top.

With all this paving, we were baking. Even in the shade, it was hot, but okay with a breeze. It's a dry heat...

A couple buses later, we were at Dian Gate at the south end of the old city, at the south end of Tian'anmen Square. This was the imperial entrance into the inner city, just a bit south of the Forbidden City south gate (gone -- now the location of Mao's masoleum).

s51 - Arrow Tower from the Inside

s54 - Jiàn Lóu from the Outside

Just outside the southernmost gate, the Arrow Tower, is milemarker zero for all the roads in China.
s57 - China's Mile Zero

We then walked around the west side of Tian'anmen Square, sticking to the shade of the trees as much as possible. The Money Museum was closed for renovation, which bummed me out. I wanted the change in scenery from all the medieval gates and temples.

In the middle of Tian'anmen Square are two giant LED signs.
s60 - Giant LED Slogans on Tiān'ānmén Square
They changed around from video of Chinese scenery to what I assume are government slogans. In other parts of the country, there were plenty of banners with messages of a similar style, hung along fences or above streets, but none so fancy as this.

We then got on a bus heading east back toward home, on the street above the 1 subway line. I wouldn't have been able to ride the buses without Chunlin. No maps.

Going past places we've seen before: Tian'an Men, Old Astronomy. Going slow. I want more breeze...

For more photos of Beijing's slice of heaven, go to flickr.

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