China Report: Dancer, Martha Leebolt shares her experience of Beijing

December 27, 2007 at 5:39 pm (Artist's News, Overseas Tour) (, , , , )

Traditional pass-time in Beijing park - Photo by Neil G Jarman

After a very hectic schedule of planes, buses, unpacking, class, rehearsals, shows etc we were finally able to ‘move into’ our hotel in Beijing. After 1 day of Class and 3 days of performances we are all ready to see some sights. Although I did the main attractions of China before, I was eager to go again to really look and take in the scenery, rather than just click on my camera.

On the 24th we got into a taxi and went off to the Summer Palace. It was even more beautiful than I remembered. The temples, small and large, were all being repainted (probably because of the Olympics) in very bright colours, mostly blue, gold and red. The prettiest Temple was built for one of the Empress Cixis’ birthdays. Inside, were housed many of her presents ranging from a big clock made of Ivory to beautiful statues of peacocks. Her throne was made of dark wood with gold cushions and pillows. Everyone’s favourite part and probably most impressive is the life size marble boat resting in the frozen lake. Unfortunately the lake was not as frozen as last time!! It was a wonderful day but my toes were freezing.

Next the 25th – Christmas day. After a pretty crowded and stressful tube ride, which cost 2 Yuan one way – 14p, we found the Lama Temple. The street leading up to the entrance is lined with about 100 stalls of people selling incense to be used inside. The Lama Temple is made up of about 40 smaller temples all housing different Buddha. The Chinese people come here to give thanks to them for example ‘The Buddha of Medicine’ and ‘The Buddha of past, future and present. Outside the temples are large pots which people burn their incense in while praying. There is constant scent of Lavender, Jasmine and Rose in the whole area. Each temple is different, some housing 3 Buddha, some housing 20. At the base of the statues there are offerings of incense that have not been burned and fruit. Everywhere you look there are people constantly kneeling and standing up. They chant with their hands in prayer which are positioned at the forehead. The finale of the temple is a Buddha that stands 30’ tall. On the way out we saw one of the Dali Lama’s thrones and I bought my own laughing Buddha.

Next we went to the Temple of Confucius. It was under a bit of construction but we were still able to see where Emperor Qinglong would give important speeches. It was very impressive; painted gold with very detailed engravings, but like most Chinese relics, the buildings they stand in are the most beautiful. The ceilings are always decorated with intricate patterns and there is never a bare space on the walls.

Lastly, The Great Wall of China – Seems ridiculous to say it is my favourite, it’s just a wall, but it really is amazing. On a clear day there is no end of it in sight. We returned to the same place as on the last visit but turned left instead of right this time. It was a bit steeper this way, so we were pretty out of breath within the first 5 minutes. This time there were many more vendors hoping to sell you anything and everything. It is an incredible place that gives me a thrill when I think about being on one of the Seven Wonders of the World. BUT can you believe there is a Starbucks at the entrance?

Lama Temple - Photo by Neil G Jarman

Lama Temple - Photo by Neil G Jarman

Lama Temple - Photo by Neil G Jarman

Lama Temple - Photo by Neil G Jarman

Temple of Heaven - Photo by Neil G Jarman

Temple of Heaven - Photo by Neil G Jarman

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