China, Beijing

Trip Start Apr 02, 2008
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Trip End Ongoing


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Thursday, August 14, 2008

If New York is the city that never sleeps, Beijing is the city that people nap - everywhere. On walls, benches, shop counters, the subway, random tables - it's brilliant. Ailbhe's kind of city! No doubt it's due to the humidity, heat and extremely long working hours, not laziness which, well we are not going to pin on Conneely just yet. Wait until she gets to the beach in Oz first.
So, very busy during the Olympics (Michael is writing that one up - he's up to day 8 - hang in there people!) we ended up staying in Beijing longer than we'd expected. We left and came back for two days of sightseeing. But before all that...
* We met Patrick (our New York mate from the Inca Trail) at Hou Hai Lake. It's a lake surrounded by Bars and Restaurants. Great place. He told us to meet him in no-name bar. The bar literally has no-name. It became famous through word of mouth. So we got to the lake and started walking, only to be jumped on by a mad man who threw himself in Ailbhe's face. The New Yorker - of course! Great to see him again, he's classic. Went for dinner with him and had good fun catching up.
*The Temple of Heaven is a worthwhile visiting place in Beijing. It is much bigger than the Forbidden City and smaller than the Summer Palace. The Temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. 
*Met up with Ailbhe's work mates and ended up in the Paddy O Shea's Irish Bar (of course), where we met the Irish Boxers (of course) and all took goes at wearing a Leprachaun hat (of course!).
*After the games we visted Tiananmen Square which was surrounded by scaffolding and green gauze. We continued to the Forbidden City (so called because the ordinary folk weren't allowed in during the dynasties), it is massive. Difficult to get through everything, you need a day.
For Michael, the Forbidden City failed to outshine the Temple of Heaven.
For me, the Lama Temple was the best. It's a lively, functioning temple built as a house for one of the Emporer's sons, then became a temple, then became a lamasery - a monastery for Tibetan and Mongolian Buddhist monks. It's been suggested it's purely a PR exercise designed to demonstrate how the Chinese state tolerates Tibetan Buddhism. It's well worth a visit, people burn incense like it's going out of fashion while bowing to Buddha.
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