Beijing Day 2 (Monday) – The Temple of Heaven

I wake up at 6.30am every day, a combination of my natural melatonin-light sleep-wake system and the habitual training from early days. While waiting for the night-owl members of the family to wake, I take to enjoying my daily cup of coffee (dang it, I was supposed to detox on this journey), a cheesecake, and some random web-surfing. Oh, and finished reading The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Bloody hell, I was actually reading the Clinical Practice Guidelines on Warfarin. You crazy nutjob, J., you.

5-sign while walking to wangfujing Eventually we set off, dropping by Swissotel to pick up a couple of free Beijing maps, then taking the subway from 东四十条站 (East 40th Street station on Line 2) to 天安门东站 (Tian’anmen East station on Line 1). The growling of tummies caused us to detour to 王府井大街 (Wangfujing Street) for a spot of window shopping and a substantial lunch of beef noodles, dimsum, pineapple juice and large 小笼包 (a contradiction of terms). Northern Chinese eat damn a lot of carbo, and accordingly these portions were huge. Westerners will have no complaints. All your not-quite-but-almost-anorexic folk out there, you might want to consider sharing.

Since it really requires a lot of time, we decided to postpone the tour of 紫禁城 (The Forbidden City) until the next day and instead took the subway from 王府井站 (Wangfujin Station on Line 1) to 天坛东门占 (Temple of Heaven Eastern Gate Station on Line 5). 天坛 was where the emperor used to conduct yearly rituals on the winter solstice to pray for good weather, etc. etc. and as such is suitably large and impressive.6-Temple of Heaven

天坛公园 (Temple of Heaven Park) is the largest park in Beijing and the location where scores of elderly folk gather to sing, play instruments, racketball, a variant of chateh where the chateh is huge, do taiji, dance and other things that keep the geriatric mind sharp and body lean. While the attractions close by 5.00pm, the park itself opens until 9.00pm.

Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes. I wore my hiking shoes with walking socks and it was a breeze. We did see some crazy maniacs wearing high heels but hey, whatever floats your boat.

Alright, details of the park can be found anyway by referring to the University of Google, let’s not talk so much about that, things like the Long Corridor, the Echo Wall.

The Echo Wall is very fun, and actually works! The brother stood on one side, I stood on the other approximately 90m apart and we spoke towards the wall in low tones. A conversation was actually possible. Fantastic.

7-hongqiao pearl market After a long, long walk, taking in the fresher air (it’s still in polluted Beijing, remember?) and the cultural explanations of the attractions, we headed to 红桥市场 (Hong Qiao Pearl Market) for a look-see. Nothing bought but a small clock for the home, but it’s similar to 秀水街 (Silk Street Market) which we would visit later on.

Dinner we had at a small comfortable 24-hour shop near to our place. Prices were reasonable.

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