I had around 10 days in Beijing, which afforded me the luxury of taking my time to explore the city and not desperately try to cram everything into a few days. Plus, it was so cold that I had to regularly stop for coffee to warm up, and catch up with my dear friend!
During the week I had most of the day to occupy myself, as my friend had his Chinese classes. Being so cold in Beijing, I was often pretty slow to start in the morning. Plus, I had to spend at least half an hour planning out where to go and how to get there – Beijing is big! On this particular day I was treated to more clear skies, so I set off to the Temple of Heaven.
The Temple of Heaven is not so much one temple, but rather a large imperial park full of various religious buildings and sights. The main building was the above structure, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
Some of the other buildings included animal sacrificial halls, and kitchens for preparing meals to place in the temples as offerings.
Above if the Imperial Vault of Heaven, and below is the view from the Circular Mound Altar.
After a few hours I wandered back to my hostel is the Xisi district and met my friend for a late lunch. The Xisi area has basically zero English, but thanks to my friend’s Chinese lessons we were able to enjoy the delicious spread below!
Dumplings are mandatory with every meal.
After lunch we went to Beihai Park, another former imperial area.
We wandered around the semi frozen lake (which I found amazing – I had never seen it in Australia!), before climbing up to the hill top temple for some stunning views.
Bless my luck for getting a relatively smog free Beijing!
One of the things I loved about all the park lands and gardens in Beijing was how they were used by the locals. Older locals who are retired tend to flock to the areas, for dancing, singing, card games, walking, or in the case of the man above, writing! It was great to see such areas being utilised so much.
It wasn’t until we exited Beihai Park on the opposite side to which we entered that we stumbled across the best photo angle!
The night was spent catching up over two-for-one burgers and cocktails in the Sanlitun district. Walking around an immensely modern part of Beijing after exploring imperial parks all day was certainly a contrast!