Friday, April 29, 2005

Beijing to the 1st timer - TianTan

Just came back with hubby from a free & easy trip to Beijing. We believe that exploration of major cities should never be done thru' a packaged tour - naturally we 'hate' to wake up at the crack of dawn for breakfast and be packed into a coach to visit the next tourist trap on the itinerary.

With 6 full days, we really had the luxury of time to explore this city and of course the 'must-sees' - the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.
WARNING: one has to be fairly fit to cover these sites - and bring comfortable light walking shoes (you've probably heard this many times but truly, when your feet starts to develop blisters or to drag - cos' ur wearing some hip but heavy Doc Martens eg - you'll curse urself for being callous with such advice).
We started with TianTan (Temple of Heaven) on the 1st day - tis truly a huge site (definitely bigger than the Forbidden City since the latter is only for the Son of Heaven - the emperor). Apparently in the old days, the emperor's entourage on his visits here included hundreds of 'minions' and elephants as well. U can just imagine how big this place is if elephants are allowed to traipse inside! Photo shows one of the side paths in the grounds of TianTan ... endless, right? There was no way we could tackle anor major site that first day.
NOTE: Do visit the Echo Wall located somewhere in the middle of this entire square, which is a semi-circular wall not unlike the whispering wall in so many other locations in the world, and try it out with a partner. Since the place will probably be filled with tourists, don't bother whispering into the wall - which is what I did (got a earful fr hubby for not using my brain) - talk loudly into the bloody wall and yes, ur other half will actually hear very clearly the echoes of ur speech as it travels down the wall. If too embarrassed to do this in public, dun worry, the local Chinese tourists (well known for their loud voices) will oblige by shouting into the wall and the echoes will reverberate....."Ni Ting Dao Ma? Ni Ting Dao Ma?"

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