Somehow we managed to go to a few other sites while in Beijing.
The afternoon after we saw the FC, we ventured to the Lama Temple or Yonghegong. It was very cold by the time we got there and it was a damp cold. It was also very crowded with worshippers which made it difficult to get around. I didn’t mind though because it’s nice to see it being used for worship and not just tourists. Andrew will receive a minor in religious studies when he graduates in May and he has learned quite a bit about Buddhism. It was nice to have him along to explain the meanings of statues and rituals.
The Lama Temple is the most famous Buddhist temple outside of Tibet (high on our list of places to visit, sooner rather than later). The path proceeds from beginning to end following a south to north direction. This symbolizes going from earth to heaven. I love it! There are 5 halls that contain beautiful statues important to Buddhism. The last one is the Hall of Ten Thousand Happinesses. It houses an 80-foot high Buddha that is carved from a single piece of white sandalwood. I had read about this in the guide-book and thought I knew what to expect. WRONG. This Buddha is huge and we think that the hall was partially built and then it was brought in or the hall was completely constructed around it. There is no way that it was brought into the pavilion after it was completed.
The other place we managed to see before we left was the Temple of Heaven or Tiantam. This complex is a beautiful park. It contains one of the most iconic buildings of Beijing, you’ll recognize the picture. The Hall of Prayers for Good Harvests was beautiful against the backdrop of clear blue skies. We arrived early on the morning that we left Beijing and even though it was very cold there were people ballroom dancing, yes you read that correctly, fan dancing, doing tai chi, and strolling.
While walking to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests we saw men taking down scaffolding that was used for the New Year’s Eve celebration. Check out the photo. The scaffolding was very high and they were breaking it down bucket-brigade style. They simply had their legs wrapped around a pole. That was the only connection they had to the structure. Safety harnesses, ropes, and nets are for sissies! I was very nervous for them although it made for a great photo 🙂
We saw and experienced a lot in our 2 full days and 2 half days in Beijing. We only scratched the surface of all that the city has to offer but we’ll be back.
4PM – 58°