Your day will begin very early, but you will likely forget this inconvenience when you enter the Temple of heaven. At this time of the day, you will see the various activities the Chinese do in the morning. Tai Qi, Kung Fu, sabre practice, meditation, tango, and gymnastics are just some of them. The Chinese like to prepare for their day with physical exercises that they consider essential for their health. As well, some Chinese practice calligraphy with giant brushes and water on the park’s flagstones that aesthetically pleases for as long as the water evaporates.
You will also get to experience some of the more unusual types of exercise, such as people walking backwards whilst tapping the heads, arms and legs or people holding on to a fence and jumping up and down on the spot.
Next, you will discover the Temple itself and its simplicity in structure. Its hidden symbolism hints at beliefs even more ancient than Buddhism and Taoism and to a time when the Emperor was considered the direct authority on earth from the heavens.
Your guide will then take you to the discrete White Cloud Temple where Taoist monks wear their hair in chignons and superstitious visitors can touch the sculpture-murals representing the twelve Chinese Zodiac animals.
Towards noon, you will eat lunch at a vegetarian restaurant in the downtown section of the city. You will get to try a few better-than-real imitations of lamb kebabs and Peking duck and to pretend that you are a monk too.
Later, the afternoon will consist of a visit to the Yonghe Temple, the most visited temple in town. To understand the Tibetan Buddhism practiced by both Tibetans and central Mongolians, this temple is fundamental for you to visit. With its 18-metre Buddha statue made from only one block of wood welcoming you, you can explore the grounds.
Your day will end with a visit of the Confucius Temple, named after the very man behind the moral codes and precepts that organized the majority of the social interactions of Imperial China. Even today, Confucianism still surfaces in China to be a part of the society.
Optional Activity: Enjoy a traditional Kung Fu show. The Red Theater is originally known as Chongwen Worker's Cultural Palace Theater.
Overnight in Beijing.
Superior: Penta Hotel Beijing (Penta Room)
Deluxe: Regent Hotel Beijing (Executive Room)
Photos from Regent Hotel.