Unfortunately, one of them was under construction, and made that fact known through the clever use of humorous signage. I love seeing this sort of thing over here, and fortunately for me, there is just no shortage of it.
So after sitting awake for 7 hours or so (because I woke up at about 2AM, remember?), I decided to go check out a couple local temples in the area. First I hopped in a cab and went to see the Lama Temple in northern Beijing. A couple of things stood out about this place…
It’s very solemn there.
They burn alot of incense there as they worship. Alot. A whole lot.
The artwork of the temple roofs and ceilings is stunning.
They won’t let you photograph the temple from the inside (although you can stand outside and point your camera in through the door, so I got at least a couple of decent shots of the statues)
They sell kitch right outside the temples to help finance the maintenence, which was odd.
There are actually Buddhist monks all over the place, and they don’t particularly like cameras either.
But it was a very cool and, for me, powerful experience, and I’m really glad I went.
Then, after a brief walk down a road full of shops that sell almost nothing but incense (a large fire on this block of town would be a disaster, although a pleasant smelling one), I stopped in this little place for the spiciest food I’ve ever managed to eat. Whenever you order food here, you just point at a picture of the food (nearly every menu has photos), and they scurry off to bring it to you, along with a liter of beer (everyone drinks a liter of beer with every meal. I like it here.) Today I pointed at something that looked like beef and green beans.
What I got was a huge plate of incredibly spicy bacon (?!?!!?) mixed with what appeared to be field grass. When I first saw the plate, though, I didn’t recognize the meat, and was very happy to find out that it was bacon, as opposed to, well, cat intestine or something similar. (Don’t laugh. They eat really strange things here.) But it was tasty (although way too hot), and filling, so I just ate the stuff anyway.
Okay, so after I powered through the skin burning bacon meal, I decided to go check out the Confucian Temple down the road. After a half mile walk or so, I reached the gate, paid my 2 bucks, and walked into a huge construction site.
Bastards! They sold me a ticket to a construction site! So most of the area was inaccessable (with funny signs telling you so), but I still managed to get a few decents pics out of the deal, so it wasn’t a complete loss. Not nearly as cool as the Lama Temple, though.
The plan after that was to head over to the Beijing Wax Museum. It was about a 2 mile hike, but I was determined, so I headed on my way. Dodging traffic and bicycles and waves of pedestrians (EVERYWHERE in this city is like the busiest intersection in Minneapolis. EVERYWHERE), I finally made it to the street with the wax museum.
Only to find out that the whole street has been blocked off for some sort of festival or rally or something that I couldn’t figure out the meaning of. The only thing I could figure out was that I wasn’t allowed to be on that street without a ticket. And I didn’t know where to get a ticket. And I wouldn’t have bought one anyway, because it looked like thier rally kinda sucked. So I said “Screw you, commie” to the security guard, he gave me a puzzled look and bowed, and I grabbed a cab back to the apartment. So it goes. Life in Beijing.