Saturday, February 12, 2005

In China, Day 3: More Temples

Today our itinerary was to start with the temple fair at the Temple of Earth, visit the Temple of Heaven, and then do some shopping at the nearby wholesale market. The weather continued to be cold and clear, but with less wind, for which we were very grateful.

The temple fair was crowded collection of stalls selling everything you might want, set up on the grounds of the Temple of Earth, which is part of the system of temples and palaces that lie along Beijing's north/south axis (with the Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square in the middle). It was very crowded with holiday shoppers. This is a once-a-year fair that is part of the New Year's celebration. Along with the stalls were state fair style games as well as a re-enactment of the Emperor's ceremony where he did something to appease the god of Earth. Definitely a festival atmosphere.

We bought a bunch of stuff, mostly gifts for nieces, grandchildren, etc. We were starting to learn how to bargain properly and got pretty good prices for the stuff we bought.

The fair was fun but we couldn't stay too long because we had to have Beijing duck for lunch. We went to the (literally) "Less Expensive Restaurant", which is known for its duck and the preferred duck place of our guide, Amy. She had booked us a private room, which was good because the place was packed with families having holiday meals. The duck was excellent, as were the other dishes. Our only complaint was that we didn't have more duck--we probably could have eaten another duck. But there is no shortage of good duck in this town....

From lunch we went to the Temple of Heaven, which is notable for having round temple buildings, instead of the otherwise ubiquitous rectangular temple buildings.

It's an impressive site, with broad grounds and a long promenade connecting the various temple buildings. There were, of course, lots of visitors (because of the holiday). It was interesting but a bit overwhelming. We did see a guy doing water caligraphy on the grounds. He just does this for fun--he's not a sidewalk busker.

After we had gotten what we could from the Temple of Heaven we headed out the East Gate to go to the wholesale market, which we had been promissed would have lots of what we were looking for at good prices. Unfortunately, it was closed for the holiday. Doh! But there was another similar market so we went there.

It was essentially an indoor flea market of the sort with permanent or semi-permanent stalls selling all manner of things. We all bought something, paying, with one possible exception, not too much.

By now we were pretty tired so it was back to the hotel for an earlier evening. We had dinner in the hotel's European restaurant, which was OK. There was some trouble with the drinks.

On the night of our first day Bill had ordered a Martini in the bar and it had been fine, just the way he liked it.

Unfortunately, on this night, a different bartender was working and he did not seem to get the concept at all, providing first a glass of Martini vermouth, then a glass of an unchilled mixture of 50% gin and 50% vermouth. Finally, after explaining the recipe in some detail to the head waitron, Bill got a more or less proper Martini (although it had a twist rather than olives--this may because earlier Julie had ordered a Martini with a twist in the bar). But we survived this ordeal to come through cleanly to desert (ice cream all around).

Thence to bed and the first full night's sleep most of us had gotten.

In the writing this comes off as a pretty boring day, but it wasn't, it just was a low-key day.

Our plan for day 4: shopping!


Post a Comment

<< Home