Saturday, January 3, 2009

15 March 2008 - Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, Summer Palace

The second day started early with morning practice in the gardens of the Temple of Heaven. The park was humming with a variety of activities already at 7AM.
“The Temple of Heaven, where 'thousands' of Chinese practice their morning gymnastics every day. Some do Taiji, some with swords, others with fans, some do Qigong, while others dance swing, or train with a ball or badminton. As for me, I was most impressed by elderly gentlemen who wrote poetry with water on the pavement and after 10 minutes the beautiful calligraphy faded away.' Pål Jakob
Once inside we found an auspicious spot and began our practice. Soon we were being watched by curious and amazed Chinese. At the end of the practice, we were given an encouraging applaud and nods and smiles of approval. How strange it must be to see visitors practicing in their park. Here were foreigners to Beijing, men, women, young and old, embracing the traditions of China. A way of extending a hand in friendship.After practice we went to the Forbidden City. As we walked through Tiananmen Square we noticed the Olympic Clock ticking away the days and hours to the opening day.
We also noticed an abundance of police and soldiers in the square, keeping an eye on the crowded streets. We approached the narrow walkways leading to the entrance of the Forbidden City, being reminded by the guards lining the walks, that we were not to stop and take pictures, but to keep moving into the 'city'.
The day also included a visit to a silk factory and The Summer Palace of Empress Xushi.

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