|The Long Corridor|
There were clearly some very serious card games going on but since gambling is illegal in China players were simply playing for pride and satisfaction. The large park also contains a Marriage Market where people can advertise for a spouse and a marriage broker will then try to find them a suitable partner. Some of the singles in our group joked that there might be an opportunity there!
But onto the point of our visit, the stunning Temple of Heaven. Originally built between 1406 and 1420 during the reign of the Ming emperor, Yongle, who was also responsible for the building of the Forbidden City, The Temple of Heaven consists of three main buildings with the stunning Hall of Good Harvests as the centre piece. The Hall of Good Harvests, built entirely of wood and without any nails, was struck by lightening in 1889 and burnt to the ground. It was rebuilt to the original plan soon after. It is here the emperors came to pray each year for good harvests, good weather and prosperity. The Hall is 36 metres (118 feet) round and 38 metres (125 feet) high with three tiers and boasts absolutely beautiful, brightly coloured, painted decorations.
|Part of the complex of The Temple of Heaven, the Hall of Good Harvests in the centre|
(Photo by Maros, edited by Thegreenj)
Above: The Hall of Good Harvests
Right: A Glimpse inside
We had had a full and amazing day sight seeing around Beijing so were looking forward to free time in the late afternoon and evening. A few of us decided to find a shopping centre near our hotel and set out to walk there. Although furnished with instructions, albeit sketchy, in the end we couldn't find it, however we did see some interesting street life along the way, like the roadside hairdressers who set up chairs on the footpath, add mirrors to the street fence and seem to have a busy time with clients judging by the amount of hair at their feet.
|Roadside hairdresser, Beijing |
(Photo by Dan Hartley)
A few of us walked back in the opposite direction to a big, glamorous shopping mall, not what we were after but it proved to be another insight into modern China. The multi level mall was glossy, modern and crammed with expensive shops. I was astonished at the prices, pretty much everything was far more expensive than they are in my home town. The shops were not the high end lines that you would expect to see at an airport, these were the same type of shops you would see in any modern mall, obviously catering to the wealthy middle classes who were shopping there in numbers and clearly indulging their only children. China has certainly changed over the last few years. The mall was an eye opener and an entirely different world from that of the road side hairdressers.
|Modern China - congested traffic and glamorous shopping malls|