Chinese Coat of Arms

Exploring China
Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, Songpan, Yangshuo

May 2007

Beijing - Xi'an - Chengdu - Songpan - Yangshuo - Back in Beijing

Page: 6 / 6

Back in Beijing

In Beijing we are reunited with our little colorful brothel, Leo Hostel. As it is about midday, we go first out on a lunch, and then drive through the city to the Olympic Park, checking out the new stadiums, parks, and the Olympic village for the upcoming Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Apart from a very long and high fence going all around the site there is hardly anything to see, the whole location is one big construction yard, and they seem to be very careful no one sees what's inside until they are finished.

Once again on Beijing streets, and quickly falling into heavy traffic A lot of building is still going on
around the Olympic Park

The Water Cube, National Aquatics Centre, is a
construction site. The design mimics soap bubbles.
I guess having a view out
is not the point here
Returning downtown in
the afternoon rush hour

It was late afternoon already as we sought out the Chaoyang Theatre for one of the treats of the trip, the Acrobats Show. This show is very popular among both tourists visiting Beijing as well as locals, and is an impressive on-stage demonstration of their breathtaking athletic and artistic skills, at moments seemingly almost superhuman. Many of the performers are kids and teenagers.

Inside the theatre The opening
The show starts on fairly easy, dragons doing
the warm-up of the audience

Then everything shifts into a higher gear Quick paced jumping through various hoops A very flexible young
girl coming on

Balancing several stacks of glasses while rolling and twisting

Probably the most difficult act of the evening, incredible strength and balance He first goes down
this way, then back up

Girls spinning on sticks two dozen of plates each, and performing group figures Young boys showing
off acrobatics skills

Lots of salts and air time in this act One more balancing act Girls on bicycles

Formations and acrobatics on bikes How many girls can you fit on a bike?

Shichahai, the city's lake district, was the last stop of the day at the dusk, a delightful area to relax over a drink while watching life on and off the water. Shichahai is beautiful all the time, but has a special attraction in the evening, when the promenade by the lake is filled with neon lights, countless bars and restaurants. Shichahai is often crowded, especially in the evening and on weekends.

Exploring the local
hutongs (narrow alleys)
You can rent a boat, or just drive in one,
and enjoy the scenery
The old Yingding bridge
connecting Front
and Back Lake
The place comes to
life at night

We have one last full day in China remaining, the next morning we are flying out from Beijing. In the morning, we went to the Temple of Heaven Park (Tiantan Park), one of Beijing's most impressive parks and more that twice in size of the Imperial Palace. Several times a year, the Emperor would come here to pray for good harvests, enough rain and other heavenly boons. The construction of the Temple is based around the number nine, which is divine in Chinese numerology.

Temple of Heaven Park Map
Temple of Heaven Park Map

Apparently many come
here with bicycles
The South Gate
to the Park
Walkway to the
Altar of Heaven
Playing Jianzi, kicking
around the shuttlecock
Practicing calligraphy
using a brush and water

The Altar of Heaven, constructed with details representing the
number nine. If you stand in the center, you can hear your own echo.
Series of small gates
between the Altar and
the Vault

Hall of the Imperial Heavenly Vault (the Echo Wall behind it) served as storehouse for the spirit tablet
of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe. It would be moved to the Altar for the sacrificial ceremonies.

A gate to The Bridge
of Cinnabar Steps
Old cypress trees surround the buildings,
creating an appropriately spiritual atmosphere
The Bridge of Cinnabar Steps, a 360m walkway.
The middle path was reserved for the Emperor alone

Gate of Prayer for a Good Harvest The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, a 38 meters tall building which does
not have a single nail holding it together, it's completely wooden

Gate to the
Long Corridor
The Long Corridor is a popular gathering point of local people, engaged in all kinds
of social activities

Playing dominos A card game going on.
They do play for money.
Many amateur bands and singers come here to perform

Chinese Chess, or xiangqi, is
a popular game among Chinese men
Singing lessons in a
truly professional manner
There are tourists here, too,
but most are locals, starting
a day with pleasant activities

More Jianzi, this time we have a pleasure of watching a real expert and the crowd is loving it

Chinese like to exercise and stay fit,
some are really flexible
It may not be quite as easy as it looks... A thoroughly equipped
exercise area, a fitness
out in the open

Feeling all spirited up and energized for the battle ahead, we proceeded directly to the Silk Market for some last day shopping and heavy duty bargaining. Those may have been the most exhausting hours of the whole trip, but at the end of the day we emerged victorious, and with empty wallets.

All there was left for us to do in Beijing the last day there was to pack our luggage and move out to the Beijing International Airport for a flight home.

Nearly three weeks after last holding a fork, going home

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