Friday, January 11, 2013

Subway and the Temple of Heaven

After I finally finished up at the visa application place, I wandered across the street to Subway.  Now, we have a Subway restaurant somewhere in Wuhan, but it's way over on the other side of the city somewhere inconvenient, so I've never been.  I got to really enjoying Subway last summer, so I was happy to have it again.  And Subway, fortunately, has not changed their menu to suit Chinese tastes (like KFC, which only has the vaguest resemblance to KFC in the states), and it was exactly as I remembered it.  I got my chicken terriyaki with bell peppers and pickles.  

After that, I decided I really ought to check some sight-seeing activity off my list, so I went to one of the major ones I missed the last time in Beijing, the Temple of Heaven.  During the last couple of dynasties or so (from what I remember, I'm too tired right now to go actually look it all up), the emperor and a sizable entourage would go to this place twice a year, on either the solstices or the equinoxes, I can't remember, to pray for the harvest, etc. etc. etc.  

It really was quite an interesting temple; it's built up on a platform, so there's a good view over the surrounding area--I could see mountains in the distance (made me think of being on Monte Stella in Milan, although these were further and not so big), a ferris wheel, several smokestacks, and kites flying in the nearby park.  The temple itself is unusual because it is round instead of the normal rectangle.  It's also the middle of a huge complex made up of the gardens, full of ancient cypress trees, various gates and temples along the procession route of the emperor (the  most important gate has three doors--the one in the middle is for God to enter; it's never opened or used by mere mortals, the one on the right is for the emperor, and the one on the left is for the high officials), and a huge round platform.  Supposedly, if you stand in the center of this platform, your voice will be especially sonorous.  Several Chinese people were squawking about on it, but didn't seem to think it was benefiting them much.  I was too cold to bother at that point; it was much colder that day than it had been the two days before.  Any icy wind was blowing, and the platform was both raised and unprotected, so there was no escaping it there.  

Thoroughly chilled, I decided that was enough sight-seeing for one day.  I headed back to the hostel to warm up for a while, and then went to a nearby restaurant for dinner.  I got grouchy with my roommates to turn off the TV (they often keep watching it until after one in the morning), because I knew had to get up at the crack of dawn the next day.  

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