So, just how cold was it this fine winter day in Beijing? This cold:
Skating on thin ice
Actually, by afternoon it wasn’t too bad. While the morning cold stung the exposed skin on our faces, by afternoon we were actually approaching freezing. Still, I highly recommend going to Beijing in the off season for two reasons — few crowds, no stifling heat with humidity.
Our guide Jim Mao told us that Beihai Park is considered a romantic area by the residents of Beijing. In the summer they even enjoy cruising the lake in the contraptions shown below.
Awaiting the Thaw
As one would expect there are a lot of Buddhist temples on the ground of Beijai Park. The Heavenly King Temple contains depictions of all four Buddhist “Heavenly Kings”.
Temple of Heavenly Kings — West King and North King
Near the Five-Dragon Pavilions was the Temple of Extreme Happiness, which was built by Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) for his mother.
Temple of Extreme Happiness
And here are a few more photographs to tide you over until Fun Photo Friday:
Temple of Bliss Interpretation
Five-Dragon Pavilions; White Dagoba in background
Beihai Park 16
Northwest of the Forbidden City lies an imperial garden dating back to the 11th Century. This is the 171-acre/68-hectar Beihai Park, our China Spree destination after the Forbidden City and our rickshaw ride to lunch. As always our guide Jim Mao was ever helpful in pointing out the sights and areas of interest.
Nearly half Beihai Park is taken up by a large lake. In the center of that lake is Qionghua Island, atop of which sits the famous White Dagoba, a Buddhist stupa built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
Five-Dragon Pavilion on left; Qionghua Island and the White Dagoba on right
One of the first sights upon entering the park from the north is the colorful and impressive Nine-Dragon Wall built in 1756. This wall is made of bricks glazed in seven different color. It measures nearly 88 feet (27 meters) in length and stands nearly 16 feet (5 meters) high.
88 feet of dragons — Nine-Dragon Wall
Each of the nine playful dragons is depicted cavorting in the clouds while playing with a pearl. It appears that the mythical dragon has quite a place in Chinese culture.
Most of our time in Beihai Park was spent along the north shore of the lake. As you travel around this portion of the lake you’ll stumble across some really great photo opportunities.
Five-Dragon Pavilions; White Dagoba in the background
One of the more colorful sights in this area is the Five-Dragon Pavilions — a set of five pavilions interconnected by a series of stone zigzag bridges. The bridges form a V-shape, so two are hidden from view in the photograph below. The largest of the five pavilions is the middle one (on the right side of the photo), and it’s the only one with a round roof peak.
Photographically Beihai Park is definitely worth the stop. I’ll have more on this imperial garden on Wednesday, and it’ll also be the subject of Fun Photo Friday.
Beihai Park 12
Beihai Park 05