Today is another full tour of touring with the Beijing hutong, Temple of Heaven, Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City and the Beijing opera. I’m tired just reading the list of sites and sights!
It’s been hard to adjust to the time here. I went to sleep not long after getting back to the hotel last night and was up at 2 am after just six hours of sleep. I tossed and turned for another two hours before finally giving in and getting up.
We are meeting at 8 am again so I had time before and after breakfast to hand wash some clothing items and catch up on the trip journal. This was the morning I discovered the dessert table at breakfast and enjoyed the delicious chocolate cake.
After being dropped off by our bus, we had a short walk to where the rickshaws were lined up and waiting for us.
I picked one based on the color of the blanket and was joined by June (from England) who is traveling with her sister and brother-in-law.
We rode to a home in the Hutong where we toured the courtyard and a couple of the rooms. One of the rooms had a collection of historical hats and we were free to try them on and take pictures.
This is one of our tour guide, John (not his real name).
It was very interesting; they grew plants in the courtyard and had their pets (birds and rabbits). There was also a big kettle with smaller koi and (hint, hint) coins at the bottom.
We had a short amount of free time to look around before reboarding the rickshaws.
The architecture was interesting but I can’t imagine living without a private bathroom. Yes, the homes here have neighborhood bathrooms!
There was a fruit and vegetable stand (?) next to where the rickshaws parked.
We then had a ride around the neighborhood in the rickshaws.
We drove along one side of Houhai Lake which is the largest of three lakes in this area and very scenic.
I think this statue by the lake is of Zhang San Feng, the monk who created tai chi.
Of course, Beijing is where to go for a reggae bar.
Our driver was a daredevil and it was a lot of fun.
It was suggested that each passenger give a 10 yuan tip to the drivers. Because ours was so much fun we each gave an extra 5.
Here’s a video to give you a sense of the ride.
Temple of Heaven
We then boarded the bus for our next stop: Temple of Heaven. This place was first constructed in the 1400’s and used by emperors to worship and pray. There’s a large complex, not just one building.
Our group was very happy to be here because it was our first restroom opportunity of the morning (we had been warned and should have planned accordingly).
Before getting to the buildings, there are large open grounds which were very peaceful. Then we walked up a long corridor before getting to the buildings area.
The center of the complex in terms of sights is the The Imperial Vault of Heaven.
I walked around the vault and then up to it and took a picture of the interior.
There was no way to get a picture with my camera of the entire interior. There were several halls around the main vault equally beautiful and some had exhibits in them. We had only 45 minutes to do all this exploring so it was a rush. This site deserved at least double that time to explore more.
The temple complex is now a park and there were lots of people enjoying it. According to our guide, people get free admission at age 60 so there were many retired people hanging out for the day with friends.
We saw groups playing cards, games, knitting and chatting.
At the designated bus meeting time, one lady who’s always prompt was absent. John went looking for her and found her; she’d gone out the wrong entrance which led to a different parking lot. We were all glad she was safe and understood, but it did cut into our time at the Forbidden Palace in the afternoon.
Next we headed to lunch. The restaurant was across the street from Tianneman Square.
The rest of the day visiting Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City and Beijing Opera will be in the next post. Don’t miss the previous China posts linked below.
Going to China (tour and visa)
China: Trip Preparations
November 12, 2016: Travel to Beijing
November 14, 2016: Beijing and Great Wall
November 14, 2016: Ming Tombs and Peking Duck Dinner
West International Trade Hotel Beijing