Dennis Wright's Blog

26 April 2007: Beijing and the Temple of Heaven

Posted in China, Far East Cruise 2007 by Dennis Wright on May 22, 2007

Next port of call was Xingang, the port of Tianjin. Now spending time in Tianjin is as about as attractive a proposition as a picnic sat in the middle of the Castner Kellner chemical works near Runcorn. But the reason the ship stopped there for two days was to allow passengers to visit Beijing which is inland, about 2 hours away.

Much as we love exploring on our own, and much as we hate coach trips and guides who exhort you to “follow the pink umbrella”, we did not fancy trying to organise a DIY trip to Beijing. There are lots of must-see sights and they are very spread out. This was one time that an organised trip made sense. We had accordingly used Holland America’s website to pre-book a two day excursion to Beijing and the Great Wall.

Our first visit was to the Temple of Heaven (Tian Tan) in the southern part of Beijing, a shrine built in the reign of the Ming emperor, Yongle (pronounced something like “yawn-gleur” as I’m sure you know and emphatically does not rhyme with “dongle”).

This is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (or Hall of Annual Prayer depending on the translator):

It’s in remarkably good nick to say it was built in the 1420s. Actually, the People’s Republic have just spent several gazillion Yuan restoring it in time for the Beijing Olympics. This is what it looked like before it was cleaned up.

The temple complex was very busy. Almost impossible to take a picture without someone getting in the way or jostling you. It all makes for very inefficient photography – everyone trying to take pictures at the same time and ruining everyone else’s shots.

You cannot enter the hall but you can take pictures of the inside if you can fight your way to the front of the crowd and prop your camera on the railings to keep it steady.

Our guide Amy (real name Wu Long … something …) had a purple umbrella for us to follow.


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  1. […] Hasta la vista, Vista! Vista is on trial and my XP install disk is within easy reach « Vista’s Morning Sickness Allowed into the Forbidden City » 26 April 2007: Beijing and the Temple of Heaven May 22nd, 2007 This post has been moved here. […]

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