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:
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
In this subway car I met ScaryBegger(TM) (see above)
Most of Tiantan reminded me of McKennan Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
McKennan Park Tiantan Park in Beijing
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.
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.
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).