Beijing, China: Goodbye
The Lunar New Year came and passed with bright firework lights whizzing by our heads. In the morning, we packed our bags and headed out to take in one last site before we headed to the airport to say farewell to China.
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The Yonghegong Tibetan Buddhist Lama Temple is the biggest lamesary in Beijing.
It was built in 1694 as the residence for Prince Yong of the Qing Dynasty. When the prince became emperor, he changed the residence into a temporary palace called Yonghegong which means palace of harmony and peace and his successor changed the residence into the lama temple that is now. Prince Yong, who had become Emperor Yongzheng, was placed in the temple upon his death in 1735 and his successor, Emperor Qianlong gave the temple imperial status. The status was shown through the changing of the turquoise tiles to yellow tiles which were reserved only for the emperor.
The grounds of the temple and surrounding area were bustling with people, clouds of smoke and vendors selling all sorts of things. Most likely due to the coming of the Lunar New Year, crowds of people came this way and that lighting sticks of incense and praying while we took the whole scene in.
Beijing, China has some amazing places to stay. Check out the Legendale Hotel Wangfujing Beijing, Raffles Beijing Hotel or the Jianguo Garden Hotel for a picturesque stay in the city.
Beijing was an interesting introduction to China and I wouldn’t say the best representation of the country.
Though the historical sites that we’d visited from the Forbidden City to the Great Wall of China were magnificent and immense, so many of the boulevards were so large but with so few people that at times it felt desolate. Perhaps Beijing was like Seoul during the holiday when the majority of people leave to head to their family homes outside of the city or maybe the holiday was just a time for everyone to stay home. Either way, the temple was the only place that we saw crowds on our whole trip. The rest of the time, the city felt too large for so few people to be walking the streets. We had eaten food that was three years old and the expiration date had us second guessing our meal and Chinese food that was greasier than anything I could have imagined. We’d gotten lost multiple times and couldn’t converse with a single person. It was the first time that I had traveled some place where I really could not communicate and that made it an adventure. Will I go back to Bejing? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of China is off bounds. There’s definitely something about that gigantic country to the west.
Have you ever visited China? Is there any place you would recommend?