THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN
June 26, 2012
It is an early October morning and our tour bus takes us to the Temple of Heaven, another UNESCO site. We see buses with people on their way to work, like these women catching a cat nap. Vicki, our guide, tells us Chinese laborers put in long hours for low pay.
This orange hooded stand is a telephone booth, simple, protected from the weather, low-cost. You have to respect the design. Although, like the US, cell phones are seen all over China, more than in my neighborhood. (Remember this is 2006.) The street scenes are so interesting here but I was using a new digital and still taking pictures as though each picture would be developed and being very conservative, not knowing how many pictures would fit on the sandisk. At that time I hadn’t heard of a cyber album where I now keep my pictures.
We entered the complex through a park with many squares. Our first encounter was a group of people doing ball room dancing. We watched for a while. A single man asked me and another woman from our group to dance. This is very common in China, morning exercise with a huge group.
The next square held a group of people line dancing. Wanning Determan, in red and my partner Michal joined them. What an enjoyable way to start the day.
This group was performing a kind of fast clapping exercise designed for mental alertness. In between the clapping they make foot figures and turn around and start again, sometimes hands raised above their heads. Quite tricky and challenging. Like line dancing, they follow a leader in this exercise that also has music to it.
This group, at a distant square, practices a graceful flag dance.
This group is doing Tai Chi. I’ve tried it since my China visit, and it is harder than it looks. Great for balance and coordination.
This group was doing a type of Tai Chi with paddles and balls, very difficult Vicki informed us. I was quite taken by the vast amount of people who exercise. It is easy to see why you rarely encounter an overweight person in China.
We finally arrive at the entrance gate to the Temple of Heaven.
Before passing through the gate, I grabbed a picture of the ornate decoration under the eaves and you can see the parade of protective lions on the roof.
The Temple sits on vast square all the way around it. It is the tallest round building in the world. At one time animal sacrifices were done here and the meat cooked and eaten in a great kitchen/dining room.
You enter by way of this huge marble staircase.
Each newel post is carved, each one different. The rails have decorative carvings. This stairway was meant to last forever.
The unique building is highly decorated with the typical colors of the day. The Chinese people love the color red and you see it in their special places.
Inside, the building is held up by a series of beautifully decorated columns. They all have gold leaf. Magnificent and irreplaceable.
A close-up of the dragon on the roof. It is no surprise the temple is a UNESCO treasure.
On the way out we passed through the Long Hall which is really long. Without the measurements, I would guess it is the length of a city block.
It is kind of fun to observe the Chinese people. We are curious about them and they are open and friendly and curious about us, as well though we can’t speak their language, this mother was obviously enjoying all the fuss over her cute little girl. The wooden stroller is unique.
Instead of a cloth sling, this woman carries her baby in a bamboo slat basket.
As we left, a lone woman was practicing her banner exercise.
As we left the temple, we passed the last remaining gate from Mongolian times hovering above the Ring Road that replaced the feudal walls and surrounds the city. Mau was smart enough to preserve it for posterity. It was through this gate the people, dignitaries, and the privileged few passed to have access to their leaders and protection from enemies.