Following our welcome meal, we thought we’d have a look out to find a bar. I really don’t know how people find bars and clubs in new cities, but hey, worth learning. We took the subway 2 stops to the Yonghegong Lama Temple as maps indicated some bars around there. There were, and they had really great atmosphere, in a very trendy part of town. But as I’m starting to find, trendy often means ‘Western’ and we didn’t come to China to pay 50RMB (£5.70) for craft beer from Europe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the expats love it, but we were after cheap and cheerful. We were directed towards a bar called QS that also served a range of independent labels and imports, but at a more reasonable price. We managed one before the heavens opened and we made a mad dash for the subway.
We returned to the area later in the weekend in order to visit the Lama temple and I really wish I had more information before I went. The Lama temple surprised me in that there was a small exhibition at the end explaining the history of the temple and how it has integrated with society over the centuries, but there was not much regarding the actual religion, prayers, way of life for the monks, or even a brief introduction to who each statue was. For Buddhists, I’m sure it’s unnecessary, but I don’t know a lot about it. Plus, Chinese Buddhism seems really different to Japanese Buddhism and I found it a bit confusing. Saw an awful lot of Westerners there too, easily 40% of the people passing through seemed to be European.
Wikipedia tells me that these are the four kings of heaven, who each watch over a different direction on the world. I found it really interesting that each of them had humanoid demons underfoot.
The day before the Lama temple, we went to the Temple of Heaven. I know, it’s a hell of a name! I didn’t know much about it, only that is a place that nearly all tourists go. I was hoping to learn about it whilst there, but that turned out to be naive. Much like with the Lama temple, there isn’t a lot of English and what there is doesn’t explain things, only names them. Next time, I will learn from my mistake and do research before I go sight-seeing.
Some of the sites within the Temple of Heaven – if memory serves, these are the Divine Kitchen, the Hall of Good Harvest, and the Hall of Prayers.
Right outside the Hall of Prayers two Chinese women began a cat fight, I have no idea what about. They were kicking and hair pulling – they were split up twice and still they went at it. It was so weird seeing people so openly disrespectful. I’m pretty sure those women didn’t even know each other and it must have been over something so small. Perhaps one wouldn’t move for the other woman’s picture.
All in all, we were there for three hours and we only covered half of the complex. For such a large city, there are still these large open spaces with historical importance and it is so interesting to see that these are still cherished, when right outside the gates status and consumerism are taking precedence.
Wo men kan i kan – We’re just looking
Jianbing he zhou – Jianbing with pork