After our week in Hong Kong, the hubby, his parents and I headed onward to Beijing. It was my fourth visit to China in twelve years, and a trip I was really looking forward to ever since the 2008 Olympics. The frightening magnificence of the Opening Ceremonies has stuck with me, and I’ve been curious to see how Beijing has changed.
It turns out that Beijing is a significantly better place than it was prior to the Olympics. I’m not sure how many cities and its people have been revolutionized by international events, but I’d venture to say that I’d be hard-pressed to name a place that’s been improved so much by having a global spotlight turned onto it. The city is so much cleaner, the people are more genteel, and everything seems to make much more sense than it did on my last visit four years ago.
Uyghurs dressed in traditional dress practicing a folk dance at the Temple of Heaven
Of all the incredible sites to see in Beijing — the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square — my hands-down favorite has to be Tian Tan, or the Temple of Heaven. Not only is it a breathtaking Chinese temple once used by the Emperor only twice a year, it’s also a massive park where locals congregate every morning to engage in a variety of community activities, such as dancing, card games, music-playing, singing and calligraphy. The largest concentration of locals congregate around the entrance and exit to the Temple of Heaven, which leads me to believe that although they’re not busking for money, they are definitely looking for attention.
Chinese hackysack players; love their coordinating outfits
A trip to Beijing isn’t complete without experiencing this slice of everyday life. I love that in addition to being a historical relic, the Temple of Heaven provides a place for (mostly older) people to interact with each other.
Practicing a dying art with a fading means: Chinese calligraphers use a large brush dipped in water, writing directly on the sidewalk
One day, when I’m old and gray, I’d love to have an outdoor space near my house where I can go to meet up with my buddies. Except by then, I’m sure all I’ll want to do is rifle through my vintage US Weekly issues and talk about whatever happened to that Angelina Jolie lady after she adopted her 20th child. I’ll be sure to make a giant Tupperware bin full of snacks to last us all morning.
Tian Tan/Temple of Heaven | Beijing | China