July 30, 2007: Beijing
After staying in bed until about 8 am, Marc and I went downstairs and had breakfast. Then we
started our walking tour through central Beijing. At first, we went north from the hotel to the Lama
Temple, about 3 km away.
The Lama Temple is one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist
monasteries in the world. Construction on this temple
complex started in the late 17th/early 18th century. The
complex consists of 5 main halls which are separated
through courtyards. The Lama Temple survived the
Cultural Revolution unharmed due to the protection of
the then Prime Minister Zhou Enlai.
Next up was the Confucius Temple, only a couple of hundred meters away from the Lama Temple.
The Confucius Temple was initially built in 1302 and pays homage to Confucius, a Chinese
philosopher whose teachings deeply influenced the Chinese way of life. This complex was under
renovation for the Olympics, as was the road leading to it.
We continued our walk now westwards through the
so-called Hutongs to the Bell and Drum Towers. Hutongs
are historical neighborhoods. They are narrow streets or
alleys formed by lines of courtyard residences.
All of a sudden, we were standing in front of the Bell Tower, with the Drum Tower next to it only 100
meters or so away. Both towers were originally built in 1272. In ancient China, bells and drums were
used for telling time. Telling the time by bells and drums played an important part in peoples lives.
As a result, Bell and Drum Towers were widely constructed in almost every Chinese city.
The Bell Tower contains the largest bell in China,
7 meters high and weighing 63 tons. The Drum
Tower contains drums (of course...).
Leaving the towers, we walked south towards the Forbidden City and into Janshin Park, from where
we had a birds eye view of the Forbidden City (more of a very hazy birds eye view).
We kept walking south alongside on the western wall of the Forbidden City until we reached
Tiananmen Square and from here, we walked eastwards back to our hotel, thereby completing the
circle. All in all, about 8-9 km.
Inside Drum
July 30, middle of the
day and so hazy
because of air pollution.
It will be interesting to
see how the pollution
will be during the
Olympic Games.
We had lunch at the Grand Cafe in our hotel. Late afternoon, I went shopping, bought some
Olympics stuff. It started to rain pretty heavily that afternoon and most of the night. Back at the
hotel, we packed our stuff and had a last dinner in Beijing.