May Day – Temple of Heaven

May 1, 2008

May Day!  Tom – Today is a major Holiday for the Chinese Communist government, in fact this year the holiday runs for five days – probably because there is still a lot of work to do to get ready for the Olympics – last year the holiday was for nine days.  Joe, Helen and I spent the morning in the Temple of Heaven Park where the emperor (“Son of Heaven”) offered sacrifices to Heaven.  It is now one of our favorite places in Beijing!



The structures in the park include the Zhaoheng Gate, Round Altar, Imperial Vault of Heaven, Echo Wall and the trademark and impressive Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.  Everyday people go to the park to participate in various kinds of recreational activities.  The park is huge and they each have their own area that they use – Tai Chi,

other martial art forms, group singing, individual singing, different types of dancing, rhythmic gymnastics, wands,

card games, board games, badminton, paddle rackets, catch, classical and folk musicians,

fitness walking (forward and backward), water color calligraphy on the cement, etc.


Joe participated in Tai Chi and Helen and I did a jitter bug in one group.  Helen was asked to dance in a couple of groups and had a good time dancing with a fellow (Mime?) who really put on a show making faces and leading her around as she played along with her own facial expressions to the delight of the crowd.



Two Chinese cuties

We had lunch in the park and then went to the Hongquio Pearl Market.  They had all sorts of merchandise but Helen concentrated on the pearls.  She bought a cultured pearl necklace (real or fake?) for about $17, which was about 20% of the asking price.


We then took a taxi to Jingshan Park just north of the Forbidden City and started to walk north through several park and lake areas.  Jingshan Park (hill) was shaped from the soil and rocks excavated to make the Forbidden City moat.  The Pavilion of Everlasting Spring is on top and a great view of the Forbidden City as well.

We next visited Beihai Park and climbed up to the White Pagoda which is at the top of Jade Island in the lake.

Buddhist statue inside stupa

 Joe treated us to some green tea with some tasty spiced pumpkins seeds as a snack.

We then continued around the lake to see the nine dragon screen (colored glazed tiles). 

We topped off the day by eating a Chinese meal at a restaurant on Hou Hai Lake.



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