The Heavenly Temple, the City Wall, and the Karaoke

Today we visited the Heavenly Temple (Tiantan) and went to Karaoke. We did all this in the worst smog of our trip. Remember the image of the obscured Forbidden City in yesterday’s pictures? Well, I caught this one:

Tiantan (Sky Temple), Obscured by Sky Pollution

The trip also featured ScaryBegger(TM) (not pictured). The guy was crawling, with notable gashes on his legs, and pulling on people’s pants while speaking Chinese. My companions were very skeptical, and mentioned that many beggers will injure themselves to increase their proceeds. Whether this guy was attacked by others, or disease, or himself, the site was macabre and arabesque.

The traincar attempted to shun him, by pulsating this way and that as he crawled, begged, and pulled. It seemed very Biblical, very 2000 years ago. I’ve noted the often Dickensonian character of Beijing before (see also the picture of shanties below), but this was worse.

Yet through all this, the guy standing next me was listening to music on his very nice cell phone, as he instant messaged a friend. China isn’t just all over the 20th century. It’s all over time.

While we spent four ours at karaoke, the main focus of our trip was Tiantan. Tan simple means temple, but Tian means Heaven, Heavenly or Sky. CS Lewis in Out of the Silent Planet argued that separating Heaven and Sky was a modern mistake, and if so the Chinese language has avoided this bumbling. It’s also a good time to plug my incoherent reviews of Lewis’ Perelandra and Heiser’s The Facade, which are books that also argue against separating the natural and supernatural.

Anyway, enough of my thoughts for today. Pictures!:


Another Beautiful Smoggy Day in Beijing

My City Survival Kid: Gatorade, Water, Vitamin C, Multivitamins, and a Smog Mask

A Sign of a Growing City: Apartments Everywhere

A Sign of a Healthy Economy: Trash Left by Construction Workers

Waiting for friends, interacted with children and old people at a local park. This little boy, and this little boy alone, was terrified

A Children’s Prison (that is, a Preschool/Kindergarten)

On the Train to the City, My Natural Enemy (a Smokestack) amid Smog

Construction Cranes and Smog from the Train


I am now an official Beijinger: I helped that woman (a Chinese) work the automatic, magnetic ticket-taker at the transfer station

These guys are my heroes. They were shouting: “Let the people off the subway before you enter,” over and over again. Few seemed to pay attention, but I liked the thought.

In this subway car I met ScaryBegger(TM) (see above)

A Street Scene

Most of Tiantan reminded me of McKennan Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

More McKennan Park Tiantan Park in Beijing

Yes, Tiantan is this beautiful and yes, the pollution was this bad.

Approaching the Temple

The Heavenly Temple Looks Out on a Polluted City

OK, McKennan Park doesn’t have this view

Lots of Stairs

Cows Died Here

Looking Back at the Temple

Places Built by Emperors Took a Long Time to Navigate

Even Farther Along

The Circular Mound Altar, which made me remember the far more natural Spirit Mound outside Vermillion, South Dakota

A Common Theme of Historical Places in Beijing is that Most of their areas are Unused

Random Guy, Standing on the Center of Circular Mound, looks at a fuzzy metropolis

A Side Entrance of the Mound. Note the large red watch lantern on the left-hand side

Gates, the Echo Temple, and the Main Temple. The gates of the echo temple are one of the many places in the world (there’s another such scam in Sioux Falls) where supposedly if you talk to the wall someone can here you on the other side. Many experiments and observations led us, tour guides to the contrary, to declare that this “works” by having the frustrated person shout loud enough to be heard across the yard anyways.

Two of the Three Watching Lanterns were cut down by China’s Benedict Arnold, who declared himself Emperor and attempted to overthrow the new-borne Republic of China.

On the way from Tiantan to Karaoke we accidentally passed the Ming-Era Wall of Beijing. The. The City Wall was built by the Yuan in in the 13th century, repaired by the Ming in the 16th, and smashed by Mao in the 20th. These remnants give a taste of what it was once like.

An Imposing Portion of the Wall

The Wall Over an Overpass


The Setting was Infinitely More Formal than I Imagined. Envision an extremely class hotel, where servants help you do everything, each one very classily dressed. That’s what you go through to fail to sing old songs (if you speak English) or contemporary songs (anyone else).

Our Karaoke Room, Afterwards

The Towering Canyons of Beijing (Walking to the Subway)

Smoggy Sunset

Traffic Jam. Luckily, we bypassed this with the subway — happily ScaryBegger(TM) free this time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *