these are the posts tagged ‘beijing’:

temple of heaven

so… after 2 years in china, we finally decided to visit beijing last week! it was a good choice to wait for this long, i think. after the olympics, a lot of historic monuments were at their finest in years, and we were able to enjoy everything without the crowds – or the olympic paranoia. so, we hopped on a D train late last thursday, and off we went. friday morning the sky was cloudy and it had just rained, but there was lots of wind which cleared out the clouds in the afternoon (and after that we had nothing but blue skies in beijing. how lucky is that?)

our first stop was the temple of heaven (天坛 or tiāntán), @ tiantandongmen metro station, line 5. it consists of 3 main groups of buildings that were once used by the emperors to pray for good harvests, in a very big park.

temple of heaven

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿) is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, 32 metres in diameter and 38 metres tall, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely wooden, with no nails.

temple of heaven
temple of heaven

The Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇) is a single-gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and resembles it, but is smaller. It is surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, that can transmit sounds over large distances. The Imperial Vault is connected to the Hall of Prayer by the Vermilion Steps Bridge, a 360 meter long raised walkway that slowly ascends from the Vault to the Hall of Prayer.

it's that great!


The Circular Mound Altar (圜丘坛) is the altar proper, located south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is an empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones, where the Emperor prayed for favorable weather. It was built in 1530 by the Jiajing Emperor and rebuilt in 1740.


meanwhile, oblivious to the hordes of tourists around them, thousands of people spread around the park, singing, dancing, playing odd instruments, practicing kung fu and tai chi or just doing their thing. it was mighty impressive. i caught this choir practicing, their singing could be heard from far away:

amazing, isn’t it? i was stoked! excuse my lame video skills, and if you know which song they’re singing, speak up! i can only catch “ni shi shei?” but not much more… (our “taiwanese refugee” TC says it sounds communist though…)

et voilà!

your daughter’s (olympic) graduation

“…those concerns about China’s human rights are legitimate and justified, but this is not the right time to over blow it into serious confrontation. …… to highlight these problems in the run up to the Olympics is inappropriate. It’s like on your daughter’s graduation ceremony, one of your friends tries to point out the fact that she is actually three months pregnant and doesn’t know who is the baby’s father.”

Great analogy! Unfortunately though, there are a whole bunch of people who are absolutely determined to use this moment to bring their concerns about Tibet, Darfur, human rights etc etc to the attention of the world. They see this as their only opportunity to exert pressure on Beijing and not only will laugh and point and catcall at your daughter, they’ll claim to have impregnated her themselves if it gets people to take notice.

again, from the time: blog.

the olympics are coming to beijing.

olympics games

we hear that sentence everyday.

you turn on the tv, and *pouf!* the new stadium is completed, the torch is now somewhere being carried by somebody else, the theme song is released. the logo itself is omnipresent in every advertisement, on every metro station, on the most unexpected places, including milk cartons and name cards.

(if you’re portuguese, you probably remember we went through the same thing when we had the expo98, or when we hosted the euro2004. )

and that would be ok, if things weren’t touching the surreal. examples:

* thousands of babies have been named “olympics”

* the air quality headache

* migrant workers being persuaded to return home during the games

* the the tickets fiasco

* breaking the spitting habit
* Smog and Mirrors: China’s Plan for a Green Olympics, on Wired

just to link a few headlines catching my attention. for me, the cherry on top of the cake is this movie from cctv (removed the video player because it seemed to be crashing in IE, weird).

and what is that, you might ask? it’s a sketch teaching “olympics etiquette” to chinese people, being regularly broadcasted in the state television. a sort of “how you should behave next year when all the foreigners flood the streets of our country”.
it seems quite inoffensive, but to us it’s very amusing because none of what is being taught there actually happens.

for instance, i’d still be at the crossroads if i were to wait for cars to stop to let me pass – even when the light is green for pedestrians! (try this video for the real picture of what happens at a crossroad in china).

and the other day i felt off my bike just at the entrance of my home complex – stuff in my bag all spread on the floor around me (luckily i got away without a scratch). do you think any of the guards standing 5 meters away came to help? right… i guess they haven’t seen the ad yet!

seriously, i believe people coming to china are in for a big eye-opening surprise… which is good.

ps – by the way, someone came up with a cartoon to explain the way the olympics logo was created :D


ps2 – i can’t wait for the 2010 world expo craziness here in shanghai! “better city, better life” being the theme. *insert pollution-induced-cough here*. how appropriate :)

(rant prompted by joão ‘s post on the 2008 olympic games’ other side).