I have spent most of my time in Beijing walking. Even though taxis are cheap, the best way to see the city is walking and when you enter sights like the Forbidden City, Lama Temple, Temple of Heaven, and Summer Palace, there is nothing to do but walk. It’s just so vast that you simply can not understand the need for the ancient Chinese to make everything so grand!
Lama Temple is the biggest Tibetan buddhist temple outside of Tibet. On the outside it’s not much different to any other buddhist temples I have seen, but on the inside the statues are quite mysterious. The don’t only have statues of Buddha but also of other spirits. Tibetan buddhism is a mix with mysticism so the beliefs are varied.
inside the Forbidden City
Forbidden city is a city itself. The architecture as I mentioned before seemed just as the temples and palaces in Korea so after 30 minutes or so, David and I were pretty bored. We strolled through half the city with the massive crowds before calling it quits and heading to eat some Peking duck.
The waitress at the restaurant had to show us how to eat the duck with the pancakes. The meat is pretty heavy and I’m glad I tried it but it’s not something I enjoyed.
The Temple of Heaven was built as a place to worship for the harvest and sacrifice animals. It’s interesting how similar these beliefs are to the ancient Mayans. It’s located in a grand park with surprisingly green grass even in the dead beat of winter. The highlight of this spot weren’t the buildings but the locals who hung around the long corridors and spent their time playing cards, dancing and singing. They were all older so perhaps the retired community who spend their days just chilling out. It was delightful to see it all take place, a reminisce of old China.
While in Beijing we saw 2 shows – Peking opera and an acrobatic show.
The opera was interesting since we got to see the actors put on their make-up but after the first act, it seemed tedious and repetitive. The acrobatic show was composed of children from the ages of 10 – 18. It involved several different acts, all mind-blowing but makes you wonder how much these children actually make.
When it comes to Chinese food I would have to say I have been disappointed. Part of the problem is not knowing how to order things at restaurants due to the lack of Mandarin at hand. Aside from the duck most of the meals we had were at the hostel which were clearly overpriced but safe. One night we had a chicken hot pot kind of deal which got David gravely ill until we left, but I was perfectly fine.
I don’t trust how clean food is handled in China, most of these eateries are off the street but the kebabs were scrumptious!
The best meal we had though was the day we went to the wall, where we had a chicken killed for our ‘feast’ before we ventured on our hike. Although the restaurant was small, cold (no doors) and kind of dirty, the food was yummy and lasted us for the whole day.