Beijing - Part II of 2
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
To continue my window shopping, I wandered along Dashilar Lu which is yet another old hutong, this one running west from the Front Gate of the Forbidden City near Tiananmen Square. It's a huge jumble of silk shops, department stores, theatres, herbal medicine shops, etc. At lunch time, staff from all the restaurants yell for customers on the street. I responded to one and enjoyed a wonderful meal which was unfortunately enough for 6 people! I was delighted to find a group of eaters (from Wuxi) happy to take my extra food off my hands before I left. It would have been such a waste!he last time I was in Beijing, I heard that the government had directed all taxi drivers to learn some English, or they would not have jobs during the upcoming Olympics Games.
Shopping aside, it was time to take in some culture. The Lama Temple (Yonghe Gong) is the most colourful temple in all of Beijing - beautiful rooftops, stunning frescoes, tapestries, incredible architecture and a great pair of bronze-sculptured lions. Yonghe Gong is the most renowned Tibetan Buddhist temple outside of Tibet. The temple's most prized possession is the 55-foot high sandalwood statue of the Maitreya Buddha. It is carved from a single tree and is said to have taken two years to travel from Tibet to its present Beijing location.
One morning I headed off along one of the hutongs.
Another morning I set off to see the nearby Drum Tower and Bell Tower, both originally built in the 1700's, and within easy walking distance of my hostel.
I took a taxi to the Sanlitun bar area where I enjoyed a savoury crepe lunch at a French restaurant by the name of Petit Gourmand. The restaurant even has a foreign book library on the premises. Unfortunately I was not allowed to buy any of the books. Sanlitun is one of the many embassy areas in Beijing - In fact, the Canadian embassy is located here. There are guards for each embassy, including the residential compounds set aside for embassy employees. It seems strange to be driving down a residential road, to see security guards in front of every single building, within chatting distance of each other!
On the eve of Chinese New Year's, fireworks festivities climaxed into an explosion of colour, smoke and earsplitting noise.
Temple Fairs are extremely popular during Chinese New Year. I visited the White Cloud Temple, or, rather, maybe I didn't. Actually, I couldn't get near it because so many people were there. It was okay though, because the fair in front of the temple offered ample shopping and entertainment alternatives. It probably would have been too crowded inside the temple anyway.
All in all, it was a nice break, and I am glad to be back in Hangzhou. I have a few days left before returning to school, so am using this time to do household chores, read a few books, and tour around Hangzhou a bit before i start teaching again. I hope you enjoy my pictures too!