tirsdag 14. august 2018

Beijing (Tiantan - Temple of Heaven)

It did not come off with a good start. After a long flight from Oslo, through Copenhagen, I landed in Beijing and was instantly struck by the high humidity. Things did not get better as I had decided to walk to my hotel from the metro station and the map I had got from the website proved to show the wrong location. Should have taken a taxi. Instead, I spent over an hour trying to locate the hotel, getting wetter and wetter by every minute that passed. I finally found my hotel and although I should have washed my clothes already, I opted for finding a place to eat. It was late afternoon and I was hungry from the long flight. Not to mention, tired and far from being in the local timezone.

In the 'basement' of Galaxy Soho.

People dancing in the streets outside Galaxy Soho in the evening.

Not really knowing where to go, I just set off into the streets. I had got a map now, and armed with that I should find my way back again. After walking around for a while, which really is a fine and fun way to discover a city (of course, seeing all of Beijing this way would take a lot of time), I stumbled across a modern shaped crossover between an office building and shopping mall. Called Soho Galaxy. There, in the open basement, I found a small and nice little joint for having my first dinner in China ever. Nothing fancy, maybe not even a typical Chinese place, but it was a pleasant place nonetheless. I ate my rice and noodles with meat dish, washed down with some local beer, and then stumbled back to my hotel room for an early night. Dark outside, people had gathered outside the building for some evening dance in the streets.

Beijing nightline, from a pavilion in a park.

Various stands of adornments with spaces to sit in, in a shopping mall.

It did not really happen that way, though. Instead, I found myself walking through a park. People were also dancing in the park, for me that meant a pleasant evening walk in the park listening to the music drifting through the trees. I found a pavilion on the top of a small hill overlooking the skyscrapers of the big city. Clouds were lying heavily on the sky, so they stood like tall ghosts with lights alternating between visible and not visible. Then bed found me.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in Tiantan, Temple of Heaven.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.

I was to share room with the leader of the expedition, Roger Shepherd. Until he arrived, I had some time to do some sightseeing. I had travelled here to Beijing without a plan really, mainly being here for the transit to North Korea. So, the next morning I had actually no idea of what I wanted to see. Looking at the map, I decided to go to visit Tiantan, The Temple of Heaven. Should keep me occupied until I had to return to the hotel when Roger was to arrive. Later, we was to meet the rest of the group and go out for dinner to get to know each others.

Inside the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.

Looking at the roof of the Imperial Vault of Heaven through the gate of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.

The good thing about not having any actual plan is that I do not have any expectations, in that way I did not feel the need to stress around trying to see all I want to see. At Tiantan, I just wandered calmly around taking in the sights. Meaning the wonderful buildings making up the imperial sacrificial altar. Given the number of Chinese population, I was lightyears from being alone.

The Imperial Vault of Heaven on the other side of the Echo Wall.

Inside the Imperial Vault of Heaven.

Tiantan was constructed between 1406 and 1420 as a place for praying to Heaven for good harvests. The largest building in the complex is hence the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. Following a 360m long raised walkway called the Vermilion Steps Bridge, you get to the Imperial Vault of Heaven. Similar in construction to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, this also is a circular building, but smaller. Those curious, can try to see if they are able to talk to each other on the opposite sides of the temple, as it is surrounded by what is called the Echo Wall. This wall can seemingly transmit sounds over large distances. Further south, you get to the proper altar, The Circular Mound Altar. The center of the altar is called the Heart of Heaven and is where the Emperor prayed for good weather. The complex contains several other buildings and structures, as well as a park, but these three structures are the most important.

Adornments of the roof of the Imperial Vault of Heaven.

The Imperial Vault of Heaven.

Walking next to these old and wonderful buildings is great, but it is far from quiet and relaxing. In the gardens and park surrounding the temple, I find more peace. Here, the Chinese also seems to slow down and keeping it relaxed, unlike the busy throng visiting the temple grounds.

The Circular Mound Altar.

Gates of the Circular Mound Altar.

Satisfied, I return to the hotel, having lunch on the way back. Roger is however delayed, which does not matter. I am fine resting for some time, still not getting into the flow of time here. In fact, he does not arrive until the time we had set for the group to meet. By then, I had gotten time to say hello to Paula and Sinead, the two Australian women joining for the hike in North Korea. The remaining member of the team is another Norwegian, Jo. When Roger shows up, we learn that Jo would not be able to join us for the dinner.

And old oven or furnace at the Circular Mound Altar.

A gate to the park in Tiantan.

We go to a nearby restaurant for dinner. It appear that Roger and Paula has met before, as he had been guiding her on a hike in South Korea a few years ago. The evening is nice and it is good to meet up with the others, getting to know them a little, before we head out for the hike in a remote area of North Korea.

Dragon adornment of a relic in the Fasting Palace.

Dragon Ornament of The Fasting Palace.

Roger has a lot of equipment with him for the trek. Our room soon looks like a command center for some special operations, there are lights blinking everywhere. Tomorrow, we will be going to the North Korean embassy here in Beijing, which is not far from the hotel. After that, I guess I will be back in the tourist costume again. Do not know what I feel about Beijing yet, even though the day has been quite nice.

Tiantan park.

Roof figures of the Animal Killing Pavilion.

Dette innlegget er opprinnelig publisert på min engelske blogg og gjengitt her i sin opprinnelige form.
 Beijing, Yiheyuan The Summer Palace ->

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