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sophie’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 12 Apr 2005

Location: Beijing, China

MapToday was very interesting. We didn't have our driver so had to use taxis. Armed with a taxi book that had different tourist places translated into mandarin in it, we set out. Using the book, I have to say, was harder than it sounds. Quite a lot of the taxi drivers in Beijing can't read so when you get in and point to where you want to go they start shouting at you! Of course we didn't understand a word, so a couple of times we ended up just getting out and trying another one, which was quite funny!
We did finally get to where we wanted to go. We started off at Yonghe Gong which is a lamaist temple, very beautiful with Buddahs everywhere, and lots of incense burning! In this temple stands an eighteen metre high statue of the Maitreya Buddha, the worlds largest carving made from a single piece of wood! Quite spectacular!
Then back in another taxi to The Temple of Heaven, which basically is a huge park area and in the middle is a cluster of temples. This was where the emperor planted the first seed for the years harvest, they used to fast for three days then offer a animal sacrifice to the gods so they have a good harvest! It was very beautiful here, but again we got all the history from our guide books, as they don't mind you coming to see these historic sights, but nothing is written in english so you don't actually know what anything means!
Once we had been "templed out" we moved to another park! Ritan park which was round the corner from where our friend Rachel worked. This park was very pretty and nice to just sit and watch the world go by, (you see some pretty strange things!).
One thing we did notice is that in the parks and even just on street corners they have gyms, yes gyms, they kind of look like children's play areas, but the chinese are told that exercise is good so you just see them on a cross trainer in the middle of the street, quite bizarre!