We caught the bullet train from Xian to Beijing, so in 6 hours we travelled well over 1000km, and that is including stops. Incredible. Unfortunately we had both woken up with a head cold so on arrival we rested and went out for an early dinner near us.
The next day neither of us had received our miracle cure overnight so after a slow start we decided to take it easy. We needed some jackets for our impending trip into Europe so caught the metro to a Chineese outdoor store. It had all the labels but at extortionate prices so we didn’t purchase a thing. We thought it would be cheaper than home but was actually more expensive. Oh well we might have to go down the imitation route.
On the way home we stopped off at our first Confucius Temple. This religion is effectively the following of the man Confucius’ teachings. He is touted as China’s biggest intellectual of all time. I am sure everyone has heard of the saying “Confucius says…….” From what I could gather from the not too informative museum in the temple was that he was a man who believed that everyone was entitled to education regardless of birth and that government positions should be filled by the best/smartest/honorable person rather than by birth rite. He was the first person in China to open a private school and it was open to anyone who wanted to learn. He spent his day traveling China imparting his wisdom and teaching the rulers to rule by virtue.
His teachings eventually became a religion. There isn’t any praying in the traditional sense of the word but offerings are made. It is interesting that the main religions in China are based around a person and their teachings who became god like figures but are not God. I have done a little digging and Buddhists believe the world was not created but rather always was and it recreates itself all the time. Kind of like a big circle. It’s all very interesting to think they are more imparting the thought of making you a better person and taking responsibility for your actions rather than asking God to forgive your sins. Makes far more sense to me.
A short walk across the road was the Buddhist Lama Temple. It is a Tibetan Buddhist temple and the only differences my uninformed eyes could make out were that there were prayer wheels round the temples and the monks were all men but that could have been a coincidence?
We were fortunate enough to see another ceremony taking place in one of the temples where the monks were all sitting and chanting out of their prayer books. I must admit, that although this temple’s buildings were probably far superior to the temples we have seen in the mountains, the spirituality and beautifulness wasn’t as pronounced for me. Solely due to the fact that there were limited gardens and trees around. In the final temple there was a 18m tall Buddha carved out of a single piece of sandalwood which was very impressive. We were both knackered after this so we headed home.
But we did manage to venture out again to wet our tastebuds on some famous Beijing Peking duck. There is a famous area south of us that serves the traditional style but we didn’t want to venture too far so we asked our hostel if they could recommend a place near us. They directed us to a restaurant about 500m down the way. The duck was mouthwatering. Crispy on the outside and so soft on the inside. Served with slices of cucumber and scallions and wafer thin pancakes with a delicious plum sauce. All for under half the price of the famous area. We waddled home and fell in to a well contented stupor. S
The man himself – Confucius
The ceilings in the buildings were absolutely beautiful. The woodwork and artistry all so good.
This is a bixi, which is a mythological tortoise like dragon. But to us he is the turtle dragon.
A very old knarly cypress. We loved this tree. If you quickly glanced at it, it looked like people were imerging from the trunk.
The entrance to the Lama temple.
One of the prayer wheels.
The monks in prayer. For some reason we didn’t find out, every so often they would throw a pinch of rice over the front of their tables.
The temple that housed the giant sandlewood Buddha. Again the woodwork and painting so intricate and beautiful.