After leaving the Forbidden City, I waited for a taxi to take me to my next target ... The Temple of Heaven. But after flagging down a few taxis ... all of them told me that the Temple of Heaven is under such heavy renovation it won't make sense for me to go.
If one driver said so, I'd say bullshit. If two drivers said so, I'd be thinking there's a conspiracy. But with 4 drivers saying the same thing, maybe there's truth in it ... so I actually changed my plans, and walked around the vincinity of the Forbidden City, up to the Wanchun pavillion, and also to Beihai Park.
As usual, I'll let the photos do most of the talking.
First destination: Wanchun Pavillion. This is a sightseeing view on top of a man made hill. You see, the man made hill, built to cover the ruined palaces of the Mongols who were defeated by the Ming Dynasty. The Forbidden Palace was built by the Ming rulers at a new site, because they thought the old Mongol palace site was a bit too small.
All that huffing and puffing up the hill to get to the Wanchun Pavillion rewards you with this view of Beijing. It's just about as high as you can get, since Beijing is a flat plain, with no natural mountain or hills ...
The Emperor was out to greet visitors. Really. Notice yellow leaves in background. Autumn is here !!!! Yaaay !
After catching my breath and taking a short rest, it was time to go visit Beihai Park, just next to the Forbidden Palace.
Beihai Park is one huge park - it used to be an imperial garden, enjoyed only by the Emporer and his closest family. It is capped by the spectacular White Pagoda (also called White Dagoba by some Chinese !). The Pagoda is built at the site where Kublai Khan received Marco Polo.
What is really cool about Beihai Park is that it's not like the Forbidden City - it has plenty of open spaces, and it's got loads of greeneries - a sight for a sore eye. I think there needs to be more gardens like these in Beijing - which is usually a place of buildings, buildings and buildings. And not forgetting the sandstorms in summer.
And of course, gardens is where you get to see people relaxing. I managed to catch some calligraphy lesson from this gentleman here who was kind enough to share some tips with anyone who is willing to listen. This is the art of water calligraphy, where people just write on the street with a huge brush and water (instead of ink).