Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Lazy Sunday of Blue Heavenly Feasts

Today the destination for our travels were an art museum (i can't seem to stay away) and then the Heavenly Temple.

First.. here is an image that may seem odd to y'all in the States.

It is a shot of blue sky... something i haven't seen since i left Chicago nearly 2 weeks ago. To say that the air quality here is bad, is like calling the Yankees Evil, Bill Gates rich, the Bush Adminstration Evil, and the Sun Hot. The only way i can describe it.. imagine you are in London Fog.. every day no matter the time and you can look directly at the sun because it is barely making its way through the haze. That is every day here.

While walking to the museum we saw thie group of old retired men using a water brush to write calligraphy. Quite cool!

I am no expert, but i thought the writing was beautiful, and it didn't seem like a bad retirement.

We got quite a treat in the museum, apparently we were at an exhibition of a particular chinse school of art.

Here are some of my favorites.

Most of the exhibit were paintings by modern artists in the style of old artists, but some were modern and quite striking.

And finally they showed some from the most famous chinese painter of the last couple centuries, Qi Baishi

After the museum, we got lost on the subways for a bit and made our way to the Temple of Heaven, or Heavenly Temple.

The Temple is in a large park, and tickets were available not just for a single visit, but also for the entire year. It quickly became apparent why this option existed.

As we were walking to the Temple, we could hear people singing, old chinese instruments, and as we got closer we saw groups gathered. I couldn't figure out what was happening at first, and was afraid that we walked into a Fulan Gong demonstration and would have to pull out my U.S. Passport and hope that someone was a hip hop NBA watching guard would show mercy. Btw, the NBA here is HUGE, and they are not all watching Yao Ming, they just love the sport.

As we got closer it became more obvious that this was just how people spent their sunday afternoon in the parks. People gathered to play old intruments, sing karoake (yes, OUTSIDE and within ear range of everyone.. brave brave souls), play bridge or Hearts, and even dance. It was also clear that people gathered randomly and while i am sure some were friends, i got the feeling that most were just people they met at the park that day. It was quite a sight, and for some reason it was really heartwarming. It definitely made me think about my life in Chicago, and how so much of my free time is spent in front of a screen... tv or computer.

Here are some pics..

Here is one of the temples that was in teh park. This was the location that sacrifices were made by the Emperor to guarantee good harvests. Pretty amazing, though after the Forbidden City, the awe was not quite there.

Here are the decorations around the temple

Btw, this entire structure as was the Forbidden City were made without nails...

The incense altars..

The view from the "Center Stone" where the emperor could address the crowd

I know this is weird, but i couldn't get over how many Pekinese Dogs in the city... they were everywhere. Everytime i saw them, i got a big kick out of seeing a Pekingese in Peking... weird i know.

A family friend wanted to treat us to Peking Duck, so we went to this nice restuarant that gave a photo book for a menu.. the food was delicious, and here are some of the dishes.


Sweet and Sour Fish

This is just the accroutrements for the actual duck.. i didn't take the picture only because i was too busy stuffing myself.

Tomorrow is the Great Wall, the largest example of a Civil Project that completely failed to do what it was supposed to do.

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