A couple weekends ago my classmates and I went to the Temple of Heaven, or Tian Tan. The Temple of Heaven is a beautiful temple complex where the emperor used to go to pray on special holidays. It was built to mark the meeting place between heaven and earth. When we first arrived to Tian Tan we saw an older man singing a song about his mother (I think). It was a very nice song and afterwards another man stood up and sang the same exact song? We later discovered that the first man had written the song for his mother and you could pay 1 kuai for the lyrics to sing it. My roommate Windsor bought the lyrics and we all had fun attempting to sing along to the characters we knew. The only section of the song we all knew was “妈妈爸爸老” which we sang obnoxiously loud.
Tian Tan is a beautiful temple complex and I definitely recommend going there on a clear sunny day. The Temple of Heaven has vast grounds with different temples and rooms throughout. It’s pretty well taken care of, unlike some areas of the Forbidden City. Some of the more famous areas are the whispering wall and the alter of heaven. The whispering wall is a circular wall where, theoretically, if you and another person stand on either side you can hear the other person’s whisper. It doesn’t actually work now though, because there are too many people attempting to do this at the same time and it’s too loud. The alter of heaven is the place where the emperor used to pray. At the time we visited there was a very long line of Chinese people and foreigners waiting to bow at the “alter” which is a small circular platform within the larger white, circular altar.
The Temple of Heaven is also an interesting place to see Chinese cultural “park” activities, which include: ribbon dancing, playing Chinese “hackey sack”, flying kites, old people singing and “waltzing”, and grandparents showing off their ridiculously dressed babies. As a lot of you know, I’m a little obsessed with Chinese babies so every time we saw a ridiculously-dressed, pudgy, Chinese baby or small child everyone would yell “RICHELLE! looook” and I’d have a full on meltdown and take a shameless stalker photo. Refer to my next post to learn more about my creepy obsession.
At one point we were taking a little “break” and Marketus decided to teach us all how to step. He was shocked that none of us knew how so we learned some basic stepping moves, and became a main attraction. We had a little photo shoot while learning how to step, and then dispersed into learning how to Chinese ribbon dance. At one point Jill was twirling her ribbon in a spiral and Seijin jumped though it! Please refer to the awesome photo below.
After Tian Tan we went to the antiques market. Apparently all of the antiques used to be real Mao-era antiques but now most of them are manufactured “antiques”. There is everything from old-looking little red books, jade bracelets, giant dragon statues, scrolls, etc etc. The whole time I was there I kept thinking: My dad would looove this place. My dad really likes to barter for interesting antiques/”antiques”. I eventually bartered for a red flower tea kettle. I got it down to 1/4 the cost but I still think I overpaid a little :/ One of my goals: be meaner while bargaining.