Yes, I’ve finally decided to continue on my travelogue. Haha! Been too busy since early January, working and studying. My weekends are spent working, while my weekdays are spent in school or studying at home. And you know, blogging about your travels really does take up a terrible amount of time, and effort too. So this CNY break, I resolve to finish blogging about Beijing! Hehe.
Day 6 (13 Dec)
On the sixth day of my stay in Beijing, I fell terribly ill. Actually, I was feeling ill during our visit to the Zoo, already, which would’ve been more enjoyable had I not felt so weak. But, determined to enjoy everything during my stay there, I still had fun at the Zoo anyway – only that BB had to put up with my whining a little. Heh.
So we didn’t go out on the sixth day. I rested at home, and BB fussed over me, feeding me medicine, water, and food. I think I slept quite abit, and finished reading a book, too.
Day 7 (14 Dec)
We went to the Temple of Heaven, which was kinda far away from BB’s home. It was near the Chongwen district, which was on a different Subway Line than the one we usually took. So BB said that we should take a bus instead.
(All photos in this entry are courtesy of BB and his Nikon D70)
(Text below taken from this noticeboard)
The Temple of Heaven was the place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would worship heaven and pray for bumper crops.
The northern part of the outer surrounding wall is semi-circular in shape while the southern part square, a pattern symbolic of the ancient belief that heaven was round and the earth square.
The double surrounding wall separates the temple into two parts – the inner and outer temples with the main structures in the inner one, covering a space of 273 hectares in all.
The inner temple is also partitioned by a wall into two groups of buildings.
The north structure is the “Altar of Praying for Bumper Crops”, with the “Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests” as the principal building used to pray in spring for a bumper harvest in the year. The south structure is the circular mound altar used to worship heaven at the winter solstice where the principal construction is a large round marble terrace named “The Circular Mound”.
The two altars, connected by a 360-metre long raised walk called the “Danbi Bridge” are arranged in a line forming a north-south axis 1,200-metres long, and flanked by century-old cypresses in a spacious area with a formal and solemn environment.
To the inner south of the west celestial gate is the “Fasting Palace” where the feudal emperors observed abstention* before the rituals. In the western part of the outer temple is located the “Divine Music Office”, which was in charge of the teaching and performance of the ritual music.
In the Temple of Heaven are situated such main buildings as the “Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests”, “The Hall of Heavenly Emperor”, “The Circular Mound”, “The Imperial Vault of Heaven”, “The Beamless Hall”, “The Long Corridor”, as well as “The Echo Wall”, “the Three Echo Stones, the Seven Star Stones and Nine-dragon juniper”.
Built first in 1420, a masterpiece of the Ming and Qing architectural art and a precious example of China’s ancient architecture, the Temple of Heaven is the largest architectural group for worshipping heaven in the world. In 1961, it was listed by the state council as “one of the key monuments under the state protection”. In 1998, it was recognized by the UNESCO as “one of the human heritages of the world”.
* Instead of the word abstention, the word used here should be abstinence. Because abstention refers to the act of withholding or abstaining (usually of votes) and abstinence refers to the forebearance from any indulgence of appetite. (from Dictionary.com)
The long walk leading from the main entrance of the Temple of Heaven to the secondary entrance (which is where the actual group of temples are)
It was a sunny (but cold) day, causing my eyes to be almost non-existent. Boo. Slitty eyes.
The secondary entrance
It was possibly the sunniest day during my 2-weeks in Beijing.
In the vast gardens surrounding the Temples, there were old folks singing Chinese opera. It was like a community centre for them! It wasn’t bad at all, the sounds of activity, in fact, it quite added to the flavour of the beautiful place.
How can there be so much greens during winter?
It’s almost like winter never came, if you ignore my winter garb.
More people singing, and acting, and dancing, and knitting, along The Long Corridor!
The Long Corridor
Me and a really old cypress tree
Woo hoo. So fat. The tree. Not me! Haha.
More trees. I like trees! Leafless trees, to be precise.
Finally, we reached the temples. Seriously, there was too much land surrounding the temples! It was like a neverending walk!
I love the reds, golds, blues and greens of the intricately painted patterns on the walls and on sills and doors. I love the carved stones and marbles, the tall pillars and the tiled roofs. I love peering into the temples, looking at the statues, and the things they used for prayers in the past. I love the grand entrances and the brass door “knobs”.
Another pathway lined with trees
I can’t tell which part of the temple is which Hall, so… here’s another picture of another Hall in the temple. Haha!
Oh, I remember! This is just outside the Circular Mound!
The floorings are original! Preserved since the Ming and Qing dynasties! I felt so happy to be walking on these tiles, where the emperors and his entourage must once have walked.
Me, acting retarded, with another water-dragon-head: 水龙头 hahaha! It means water-tap.
In the olden days, these dragon heads spewed rain water which collected on the raised platforms, during the rainy season. I blogged about this before, in the entry about the Forbidden City.
Concentrate on the gorgeous view and not my scrunched-up slitty-eyed face, please. It was sunny lah, okay. Try opening your eyes in the face of the sun. Bleah.
Near the exit to the Temples, we met an old man, who was writing calligraphy with water, on the floor. His calligraphy was really beautiful.
It’s not as easy as it looks! You may write beautifully on paper, but writing with a ‘brush’ as big as a baseball bat is a whole different story!
I was so very tired at the end of the day, and was whining (again), because we had to walk a very long distance to the nearest bus stop. We entered from the North Gate, and exited from the South Gate. I didn’t want to walk back to the North Gate, and insisted to BB that I wanted to take a taxi. But he said that the next bus stop was “really nearby”. So we walked, and I was so tired, and then I was angry with BB cos I didn’t want to walk anymore, so I ran away from BB.
Can you see me? The one galloping away with the blue bag. Haha. So unglamorous, I know. But it was hard to run properly and elegantly in clumsy boots and huge fluffy and puffy parkas, okay? Eventually, he caught up with me, and we laughed. Haha. And we also finally took a taxi to Xidan for a late lunch. Or was it dinner? I was too hungry and tired to care. Haha!
After our late lunch, I took the airport shuttle bus to the airport, to collect an item that I had left behind in HK Airport! Haha. They were super efficient. I faxed a letter of authorization to the Cathay Pacific office the previous day before 2pm, and my lost item arrived in Beijing Airport on the very same day, on the flight that landed at 8pm! I was very very impressed! Haha.
BB didn’t go to the airport with me. Instead, he went home and took Pipi out for a walk. No sense spending 16 yuan per person to go and collect an item which I lost, when I knew the way to the airport and back myself.
It was also the first time I went around alone in Beijing. After collecting my stuff from the Cathay Pacific office at the Beijing airport, I took the airport shuttle back to Xidan. And then I walked around in Xidan for abit, looking for a new pair of gloves. I dropped mine somewhere in the Temple of Heaven earlier in the day. Hehe. So I got a new pair of pink gloves for myself!
After that, I took the Subway from Xidan to Muxidi, and walked home myself. It was abit scary, because I had to walk through some narrow roads, though BB and I take that route to and from the Subway station every day! I was also a little worried that I’d get lost. But well, I found my way home just fine!
Later that night, BB went out to buy groceries, and I was home alone with his grandparents. I don’t think we spent that much time apart on any of the other days I’d spent in Beijing, as compared to this day itself.
The day didn’t end so well, there was a major upsetting involving some other people, which I don’t want to talk about, but I think we survived it pretty well.
More often than not, I think back on this day as a reminder to myself that we won’t be defeated so easily – our relationship isn’t a fragile piece of paper that can be written upon by others who wish it.