Day 48 - A little piece of heaven
Trip Start Sep 30, 2012
105Trip End Jan 09, 2013
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The Temple is really an amazing set of buildings that was built as a place for the emperor to make offerings to heaven for a bumper crop. There was a whole procedure that had to be followed to ensure the sacrifice was done just right. It was amazing to learn about how things were done. The first building was the Hall of prayer for good harvest. It is an amazing three tiered circular building. The pillars are inside the halls and are beautiful painted. The adjacent halls have pictures and stations depicting the process that the emperor followed. They also contain a history of the hall and how it was redesigned and renovated several times. Really impressive.
Next we headed along a beautiful bridge called the Sacred Way. This lead to the Echo Wall which is quite fun. The idea is that one person stands at one side of the circular wall and the other person stands at the other side and if you speak you can hear each other clearly. With so many people screeching into the wall it was hard to tell if it really worked but we found that if we stood a few metres apart and spoke into the wall we could hear each other clearly. So who knows.
The path then leads to the Circular Mound. This is a multi-layered circular altar inside a massive square courtyard
We really loved the temple and the surrounding park. Lovely for a weekend stroll.
Our next stop was the Pearl market which was nearby. It's a four level building with market stalls and shops on each level. The top floors specialise in pearls and the lower floors sell everything from electronics to shoes, handbags, clothes, souvenirs and watches. All rip offs of course but interesting to see. While every store owner wants to sell you something they are not aggressive and the experience is quite pleasant. We bought some snow gloves and hiking boots and then headed up to see the pearls. So amazing. We walked into one fancy store and the lady explained the difference between sea and fresh pearls and how they are graded. It was very interesting and some of the pieces were exquisite. They also had pics of the many famous people who had been in the store including Nicholas Cage and Jessica Biel.
With our shopping done we caught the subway back to our part of town and headed back through the hutong area. It's a couple of small streets with the original houses and alleys still intact. A bit of a tourist part now but still quite authentic. We stopped at a famous steamy bun restaurant and tried a few different buns stuffed with delicious fillings. It was a great lunch supper and we both agreed that steamy buns should be available in SA.
So after our busy day we had a snooze before heading off to the theatre to see the production Chun Li: the story of Kung Fu. It was showing at the Red Theatre and was brilliant. It's the story of a young Shaolin monk boy who grows up learning Kung Fu and all that goes with it. You follow him on his journey to enlightenment. We were very impressed with the martial arts, the lighting, the costumes and just the amazing stunts. Such a worthwhile experience and highly recommended. We caught the subway back and relaxed a bit in the common area before heading to bed. It's been an adventure packed day and we feel like spoilt brats getting to enjoy these amazing things.