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Published: August 31st 2010
It's been quite a day! I'm back at the Tibetan cafe, looking out the window and watching the action on the street. The man and his goose are walking by again. I'm thinking it's his pet since he walks it twice a day. Up and down the street they go, the goose honking the the whole way to the delight of onlookers. It is a beautiful white bird with a bump on its beak, and it stands proud as it parades down the middle of the street.
I slept in a bit today and it felt good. After breakfast I hopped a bus to the Lama Temple. It's an old palace converted into a monastery for Tibetan Buddhism. According to many of the signs I've read, Tibetan Buddhism was very popular with the former imperial families, so I guess it's really no surprise that there's a temple in Beijing.
The grounds and buildings are immaculate, colorful, and detailed. One really gets a sense that this is a place that is used and loved. There were so many buildings, each unique in design and decoration. There was even a small museum, tucked in a corner, filled with gifts from high
lamas to Beijing officials during the Ming and Qing dynasties. One statue was carved from a single white sandalwood tree and was 18 meters above ground and 8 meters below. Gazing up at a four-story statue was an awing experience that left me rooted to the spot, mouth gaping.
A friend of mine moved to Beijing yesterday, so I tried calling him to see if he wanted to meet up for lunch. Turns out his phone number is currently without money, and thus inactive. So I skipped lunch (as usual) and went to the Temple of Heaven.
The Temple of Heaven is where the emperors used to make offerings to the gods and asked for good harvests, etc. The buildings were so colorful it was like looking at a tall kaleidoscope. There were several gardens, but I skipped them because my feet hurt. (It was a long walk from the metro to the temple.) But the round altar, 9 large stones in radius, was impressive. Next to it were metal cauldrons for making offerings to former emperors and a large green oven for offering a calf to the gods.
I left around 3pm and it took me
two hours to get back to my hostel. Luckily I was able to get an ice cream break while I waited for a bus. Then back here, the Tibetan cafe, for curry and momos and some journal time. And now I'm off for a much needed foot wash and massage!
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