18 August 1999 Wednesday
天坛公园 Temple of Heaven/Tiantan Park
Going to Tiantan Park is very easy for us, as the location is near to Qianmen. Taking the air-con public bus only cost RMB 3 per pax and was about 15 minutes.
Tiantan Park or The Temple of Heaven is located in southeast of Beijing, which was built in 1420, and expanded under the Qing emperors Qianlong and Jiaqing. Every year on winter solstice and in the first month of the lunar calendar (December and January or February in the solar calendar), the Ming and Qing emperors came here to worship and offer sacrifices to the heaven and pray for good harvests. It is now the largest architectural group where sacrificial ceremonies were held , with 273 hectares of land take. The area of the Temple of Heaven is more than twice that of the Imperial Palace.
Hall of Prayers for Good Harvests , the main temple hall , is a circular wooden and brick structure , with a triple conical roof set with deep blue glazed tiles . Supported only by 28 wooden pillars, the hall is called the Beamless Hall. Its ceiling is exquisitely painted in patterns of traditional Chinese style.
South of the Hall is the Circular Mound Altar , another famous building in the park. It was the site where emperors of Ming and Qing Dynasties held ceremonies and offered sacrifices to heaven. Looking from the sky, it is a building with 3 concentric circle of different diameters. In fact, it is a 3-tiered marble altar, and stairs with 9 steps each are set on 4 directions of each tier. On the whole altar, the numbers of stone boards, balustrades and blocking boards is 9 or multiples of 9.9 is the largest positive number, and symbolizes the infinitude of celestial body.
Originally the Temple of Heaven had only one main gate which faced west, but after it was made a public park in 1949, entrances were also opened on the northern, southern and eastern side.
王府井步行街Wang Fu Jing
Shopaholics will love Beijing. There are several renowned streets and stores stocking a flood of goods at sometimes incredibly low prices. Tourist attractions and major hotels have the usual souvenir shops selling arts and crafts.
However, the best finds are found in specialty shops strewed round the city centre. Some of the best buys in Beijing include down jackets (essential if you are visiting during the cold season), chops, inks, brushes, silk scarves and clothing, embroidered items and exquisite papercuts, a traditional craft.
A favourite haunt with visitors seeking bargains is the shopping street, Wangfujing. Check out the biggest emporium there, the Beijing Department Store, for reasonable prices and good variety. Wangfujing street, running north from the Beijing Hotel, is the busiest commercial area with a large selection of stores.
Off Wangfujing is another shopping street, Xidan Beidajie. The shops here cater more to the locals and the price are much cheaper. This, along with Xidan, is perhaps the safest bet for those unfamiliar with the cost of items in Beijing since the competition has kept prices reasonable. It is largely for the sane reasonable that the area is over-crowded. And right mow a gigantic renovation project is underway on the east side of the street.