Posts/December, 2008/

Last Days in Beijing: Temple of Heaven Park, Tiananmen Square

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Our last two days in Beijing were simple and involved lots of time outside, walking. On Saturday morning, we took the subway to Temple of Heaven Park on the south side of town. We hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. We searched for food, but the entire area seemed lacking. There were plenty of athletic gear shops however. After circling back after exploring a few long blocks, we found a coffee shop right behind the subway exit. We got some fresh pastries and overly expensive take away coffee. They were some of best pastries we’ve had on the Asia trip.

Temple of Heaven Park was massive. A forest of evenly spaced trees casted regular stripes across the ground. Like Jingshan Park, the grounds were full of all ages of people enjoying the brisk morning weather. There were a few gated attractions to see in the park, but we didn’t think they were worth extra ticket cost. Why bother seeing so-and-so temple when for free you can watch people singing or kicking shuttlecocks around? Answer: Don’t bother.

Walkway through the trees.

Trees and ropes? Only in Beijing!!!

Fallen leaves.

The sinister woods of the western side of the park.

Another walkway.

All kinds of adults were working out on the public athletic equipment. It was like a fully clothed, elderly version of Venice, California’s Muscle Beach.

A man watching a feathered shuttlecock getting kicked his way.

An old man hangs his cane to get some stretching on.

One building was surrounded by a dry moat. Inside the moat were numerous cats sleeping in the sun. I’m not sure how they got in or how they’ll get out.

This one was stalking a mouse.

Woman about to launch a kite.

Looking down the main walkway to the center temple complex.

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.

All over the park were more of these long tailed blue birds. They seemed to be feasting in the dirt under all the trees.

One of many outdoor, informal choirs. Some had instruments. The participants belted it out. It was amazing to watch. From echoing corridor to clearing in the trees, the various choirs filled the park with incomprehensible sing song.

Panel of telephone circuits exposed near the subway entrance.

Everywhere in the park, people were deftly kicking a feather and metal washer contraption around, hacky-sack style. We bought one for 5RMB(75¢) and found a secluded place to practice in. Unlike juggling a soccer ball, this feather shuttlecock wouldn’t fly too fast or erratically. J. and I sucked at first, but after an hour’s practice were able to get a few volleys going. Buy by that time, our ninja kicks had worn us out. It was inspiring/disheartening to see so many people (many much older than us) kicking the thing so effortlessly.

There were a lot of elderly people defying their age out there.

After the park, we took the subway back. It was supposed to be a lazy night, but instead we went searching on foot for a building we’d seen before. We couldn’t find it and ended up walking FAR out of our way. Sun was setting and there were no good food options to be found. I bought a roasted sweet potato from a vendor on the street to tide us over. Eventually, we threw up our hands and went to the food court in the mall. It ended up being a pretty good Chinese meal: capacious portions, enthusiastic taste, knowledgeable prices! We left stuffed, but with room for a soft-serve iced melamine cone.

Sunday was our last day. From all the walking and shuttle cocking our legs were sore. But we still hadn’t seen Tiananmen Square. We walked to the crowd epicenter and spent some time watching people.

All over Beijing are these accordion style gates.

Portrait of Mao over the entrance to the Forbidden City.

Red flags flying proudly.

Gwaaaaa!

Boy and flag.

This man seemed bored of his buck-toothed friend.

Kid.

Tiger footed, puff boy.

Kool Moe Dee.

A Mongolian spy tries to blend in.

The changing of the guard.

As the late afternoon transitioned to darkness, we hurriedly ate two trays of steamed dumplings, pick up our bags, and caught a taxi to the train station.

Onward to Shanghai!

Archives for December, 2008
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