Temple of Heaven:
The entrance to the Temple is a wide avenue meant for masses of foot traffic. It is clean and well-traveled, not only by foreigners like us, but by Chinese people as well. I did not see wrappers or bottles lying around anywhere.
Click below for a a three-minute video, which explains better than I can. Sorry for the advertisement. The first few seconds will show you the exercise in the park again but keep watching. Those pink feathers the man is tossing with his feet are the Badminton birdie I had referred to earlier.
The English 8 Group (us) had removed our light jackets. The sun rose higher and the temperature grew warmer, yet around us young Chinese ladies wore (wool?) leggings under skirts, long sleeved jackets, heavy pants (no jeans) and high heels. I love heels and wear them on occasion, but not in this kind of environment. There were lots of stairs to climb and broken concrete and uneven bricked areas all around. How they walked in those shoes without breaking their necks, and for so far and long, I cannot fathom.
- The park area is 660 acres
- Commoners were not allowed inside it’s gates until 1918
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage site
- All the buildings were refreshed prior to the 2008 Olympics
- Although the doors remained open, visitors were barred from entering. We fought for a spot to look inside from the blocked doorway but could not make out much.
We walked until our feet screamed for mercy. Again washroom locations were uppermost in our minds and where bottled water could be purchased. The following video is an hour and a half long. I cannot remember all the interesting history we learned, but take time to take a peak: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XRcwAAsNz8
The bus driver dropped us the the restaurant. The French group followed soon afterwards as well as lots of locals. All platters of food were automatically delivered and placed on the large lazy Susan in the centre of the table. Choices of one (small) free glass of soft drink, water, or beer were again offered. All the food served was family style. Our plates for eating were smaller than some bread and butter plates at home.
- French fries (What? Shocked us too)
- Deep fried, breaded white fish (mild taste)
- Cooked cauliflower
- Noodles (tasty)
- Thinly sliced beef and cucumber platter
- Beef meatballs with onions and green peppers
- One large egg pancake (the size of a dinner plate)
- White rice
- Soup with ribbons of Nori in it (I didn’t try it)
- Green tea
- Peeled oranges, sections pulled apart, and arranged on a plate for dessert
Note: Veggies were not plentiful like they are in the Chinese food we see in the West. They appeared to be more for decoration, except for plentiful onions in meat dishes, along with a few slices of green pepper. I ate till my tummy felt happy. I had no complaints about the food.
Tian an Men Square
The bus couldn’t bring us closer to the Square and we set out on foot. Again. Shortly before entering the grounds, we passed a strip mall across from it featuring souvenir shops and the like. Sue asked if we might shop, but Robert shook his head. Not a chance. We had a tight schedule. (Check out the writing on the building.)
The Square is so huge, the danger of being trampled during a ceremony or demonstration crossed my mind. The Square accommodates one million people. That’s the size of 90 American football fields. Soldiers still patrol the area, although they look way too young to me.
- The monument of the heroes of the revolution is here
- The Great Hall of the People (in the background)
- The museum of history and revolution. We were there at the wrong time and it was closed. I don’t believe we had been scheduled to visit anyway.
- The Mao Zedong Memorial Hall where he lies embalmed in a glass case since his death in 1976. We did not go inside the Hall either. This building is at one end of the Square.
Tsingtao beer was served, the best beer in China we were told. Ernesto ordered a bottle. I had the one small free glass a change from the water I drank all day. Sue preferred pop or water and the rest chose water.
- Sliced sausage, fungus (think of weird mushrooms) and cucumbers
- Cooked green salad (leaves of some kind)
- Chicken with carrots and cucumbers
- Duck meat with celery
- Chicken with celery
- Battered deep fried fish
- Sesame bread plus onions and peppers (can’t remember what this looked like)
- Spring rolls (exactly eight)
- Soup (forgot to write what kind)
- Watermelon slices for dessert
Offered separately, for which we needed to pay, were special coffees and ice cream. The waitress quoted 20 Yuan for either (about $4.00 Cdn / approx. $3.30 USD). Sue pointed out the prices posted over the ice cream freezer were 3.50 and 5.00 Yuan. Nope. The price was 20 Yuan. Non-negotiable. We must have stuck out like tourists. With money.
Our restaurant had been backed onto a park-like setting with a large pond of stagnant water. It wasn’t clean and had ugly, black and swampy plants growing in it.
We had time to kill before the bus came at 6:30 to drive to the Opera. Some of our group decided on a walk in the park. Sue and I chose to sit and take a load off. We’d done enough walking all day. My feet shrieked and uttered profanities. No wonder—they must have walked 50 miles on our first day out.
Beijing Opera 7:30 p.m.
Before the performance, a demonstration was given on stage of a male performer applying face make-up and donning a costume with a dresser assisting.
This is not an art form I appreciated, although the costumes were colourful and dazzling. One of the men in our group complained he couldn’t even catch a nap.
We arrived at the hotel somewhere between nine and ten o’clock. A jam-packed day three had ended. My brain, over-saturated with information, shut down. Goodnight Beijing. Hello pillow and bed.
Next on June 27th: Beijing Day 4 – The Great Wall
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