Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Beijing: Temple of Heaven

My parents arrived in Shanghai on Thursday afternoon and by Saturday morning, we were boarding a train to Beijing. To be honest, I am not a big fan of flying, which is why I simply adore using public transportation in China. We sped through the countryside at over 300 km/hour and arrived 1300 km away in just under five hours (think Boston, MA to Charlotte, NC for our American readers). Unfortunately, the weather was less than cooperative for our visit. We were welcomed to Beijing by rain and temperatures hovering just above freezing. North of the city, it even started to snow.

My family was determined not to let the weather ruin our trip and after layering on a few extra pieces of clothing, we headed to the Temple of Heaven. We were clearly not impressed with the less than ideal conditions.

The Temple of Heaven was an imperial sacrificial altar during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The emperors would visit this location in order to pray to the heavens for a bountiful harvest. Today, the temple is surrounded by a large park where locals come to practice tai chi and a community band leads impromptu singalongs with tourists.

After a few hours of wandering the grounds in the rain, we ducked into a Szechuan restaurant where we warmed up over hot tea and spicy food. My mother even had the pleasure of selecting a live fish for our meal. Though I doubt pleasure would be the term she would use.

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