After invading the Forbidden City, we took a cab going to the Temple of Heaven which is just a little south of it.
We could have taken a bus for a much cheaper fare but we are just so beat, so, my roommate and I agreed to take a cab and catch our breath for a moment and prepare for another walkathon. When we got there, we immediately spotted the ticketing office. The only problem is that the person behind the counter where I queued does not speak English! I had to call our tour guide (the one who gave us a tour at the Great Wall and Ming Tombs) and ask her to talk to the crew and translate for us. There were different ticket prices; our tour guide said we should get a 'through ticket' if we want to get to the inner part, the place where the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is located. So, that's what we got!
There were quite a lot of people there that time too, most of which are senior citizens. You would see them loitering at the corridor and park benches playing chess or other sort of board games and card games. There were a lot of kids too; actually the outer park is a good place for exercising. On some days, this place is usually filled with people practicing Tai Chi and other martial arts and cultural/folk dances.
|The Long Corridor|
|that I-can't-believe-I'm here pose!|
The construction of Temple of Heaven started the same time the Forbidden City was being built (1406-1420). Of course, this place was built according to the Feng Shui principles as well. It is said that this is the exact place where sky and earth meet. Almost every part of this huge complex, materials used, the colors and numbers of pillars have symbolic meaning. It really is a "masterpiece of ancient Chinese culture". It covers an area of 273 hectares making it the world's largest existing architectural complex for offering sacrifices to heaven. It was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1998.
It was a really long quiet walk but I think it would be much peaceful and solemn if we got there when the gates have just opened and there are fewer people.
|are we out of the woods yet?!|
This may not sound cool, but I couldn't let that moment pass without talking to the band. So, on my way to the dingy restroom, I dropped by their table on purpose and introduced myself (in a very fanatic way). I shook their hands one by one and told them who I am and what the hell I'm doing in China. They were surprised when I finally spoke in Filipino. They asked me if I was the one sending in song requests with short messages written in Filipino, so, I said YES! It was a good small talk and we had a good laugh, little did I know that that moment was a start of a new friendship.
|me, my roommate Ate Zyla and a Filipino band vocalist, Ate Carol!|
It was an unforgettable night. I get to party the way I did when I was 14! Ha! I even stood on my chair because I'm having a tough time seeing the band since we are seated at the back part and there were gigantic Caucasians blocking my view. I especially liked it when the band dedicated songs for us. They performed Filipino songs as well, and that felt so good because no one can sing along except us! Haha! We don't get to do this in Tieling because in every corner of that tiny place, our boss knows someone. We're one of the few foreigners in Tieling, so, people really recognize us wherever we go. They know that we are teachers from this English academy that's been running for over a decade. We're not allowed to screw up and stain the company's name. But in Beijing, I am just another foreigner, just another face in the crowd. Nobody knows us so we can be ourselves and not the 'formal teachers' we are supposed to be in the place where we live and work. We can breathe for the first time in a long time! Although I breathed a lot of smoke that night, haha! I am fully aware of the consequences of second-hand smoking, I even got sick because of it, but that night was an exception. I didn't care if my hair smelled like shit at all. I just enjoyed everything that I was seeing and hearing that time. I didn't actually want that night to end. But unfortunately, it did and I was so bummed that I promised myself I will come back and get more of it! We exchanged contact numbers with the people that we met, I was serious about getting in touch with them once we get back to Tieling.