Giant Pandas, the Temple of Heaven and a bullet train to Hangzhou


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Asia
May 10th 2018
Published: May 11th 2018
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Our day began with a visit to Beijing Zoo which is situated in the Xicheng District, and was the first of its kind in China. It contains a diverse collection of animals, a number of exhibition halls and some sites of historical interest but we were there mainly to see the giant pandas. Indeed, as we were on a fairly tight schedule that's really all we had time to see. It seemed that many others who were visiting the zoo were also there to see the giant pandas too. Naturally there was a shop in the area where the pandas were housed where I once again succumbed to temptation, buying some panda toothbrush holders for the grandchildren so not much of a big spend! Money duly parted with and after a search for another green bean ice cream, we once again returned to the bus to be driven to see the Temple of Heaven.



Located in the Chongwen District of Beijing the Temple of Heaven Park is larger than the Forbidden City and was just gorgeous. Originally, this was the place where emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) held the Heaven Worship Ceremony. It is the largest and most representative existing masterpiece among China's ancient sacrificial buildings. First built in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty, Temple of Heaven was enlarged and rebuilt during the reigns of the Ming emperor Jiajing and the Qing emperor Qianlong. In 1988, it was opened to the public as a park, showcasing ancient philosophy, history and religion. Its grand architectural style and profound cultural connotation give an insight into the practices of the ancient Eastern civilisation.



Thanks to Wikipedia I discovered that the temple was occupied by the Anglo-French Alliance during the Second Opium War. In 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion, the Eight Nation Alliance occupied the temple complex and turned it into the force's temporary command in Beijing, which lasted for one year. The occupation desecrated the temple and resulted in serious damage to the building complex and the garden. Robberies of temple artifacts by the Alliance were also reported. With the downfall of the Qing, the temple complex was left un-managed. The neglect of the temple complex led to the collapse of several halls in the following years. Following which in 1914, Yuan Shikai, then President of the Republic of China, performed a Ming prayer ceremony at the temple, as part of an effort to have himself declared Emperor of China. In 1918 the temple was turned into a park and for the first time open to the public.



But before we went to see the temple itself we practised some Tai Chi with an expert in the martial arts system which places emphasis on the development and control of Chi energy (consciousness) with the body. That was a bit of fun although, for me, not quite as interesting as it was when I joined an early morning group at the Hoam Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam a couple or so years ago.



After the Tai Chi episode we were off to see the buildings themselves which are part of the Temple of Heaven. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests was the main eye catching building which is probably the most photographed. It is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, 36 m in diameter and 38 m tall, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely wooden, with no nails. The original building was burned down by a fire caused by lightning in 1889 with the current building re-built several years after the incident.



The Temple of Heaven Park was the last Beijing attraction which Kitty took us to see. Once all back on the bus we were driven to the Beijing South Railway Station where we were to catch the bullet train to Hangzhou. Kitty escorted us to the queue to board out train. It was there we sadly said our goodbyes and expressed our sincere thanks for the wonderful job she had done in showing us a little bit of her home country. After a wait standing in the queue of over an hour we were finally on the train and able to sit down. Roughly six hours later we were in Hangzhou; before long settled into the Hangzhou Tangbang Hotel for another good nights rest.


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11th May 2018

Interesting buildings and history. Good to see a bit of heaven. I doubt if I will get past the pearly gates!
11th May 2018

Interesting buildings and history
Personally I'm not expected there to be any pearly gates!! I wonder though who made up that idea!!!
13th May 2018

Have a great time
Thanks for your informative blogs! I hope you continue to have a great trip. Sounds pretty busy and energetic.--Martha
13th May 2018

Have a great time
We certainly did enjoy our China visit. I look forward to talking all about it to you when you get back from all your travels. M xx
14th May 2018
Panda No 1

Pandas are adorable
I've always wanted to see a panda in their more natural setting.
14th May 2018
Panda No 1

Pandas are adorable
Well it looks like you'll have to visit China!!
14th May 2018

Tiantan
The Temple of Heaven is a highlight of Beijing. Glad you got to visit it. There are lots of temples or halls in the complex so next time you should set aside at least half a day to become absorbed in it. Nice spot for a bit of Tai chi for sure.
15th May 2018

Taintan
Dave, We were on an organised tour this time. It's not something that we normally do but the offer we took was too good to refuse. The nine day Webjet tour, including return air fares was a total of $777 and included most of the things we did. Apparently it was subsidised by the Chinese government so was too good an opportunity to miss. But we definitely intend to go back but not sure when. How come you've visited China so much?
15th May 2018

Pandas ...
Cute and looking oh, so cuddly but, apparently, the females make terrible mothers and don't have much of a maternal instinct either. Also, their poor nutrition on a mainly bamboo diet, makes conception difficult, which only adds to the situation. Sad to think that there are so few Pandas left in the wild these days, due to poaching, failed pregnancies and bad Panda parenting practices so, thank goodness for the breeding programs we now have in place throughout the world, as it would be devastating to see them become extinct. Jxx
15th May 2018

Pandas
True, pandas are cute. Isn't it funny how humankind take to some animals and not others. When you think of all the animals which are now extinct it's a crying shame the way we treat them...well some of us that is. Good to hear from you. M xx

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