China, post 3 – Lama Temple

One of things we did before going anywhere else, was find a place to buy water! You can’t drink the water in Beijing. The hotel provided us with 2 small bottles a day, which was good for brushing teeth and such, but wasn’t going to cut it for providing us with drinking water. Someone in the elevator told us about a supermarket across the street, so we checked that out. It wasn’t a far walk – you just go over the overpass and there it was. I snuck a pic:

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The night before when we’d ordered dinner, we ordered water with it and somehow got carbonated water, which I hate. We’d had a hard time finding non-carbonated water when we were in Germany – and were wondering if we’d have a hard time here too. So we must have spend 10 minutes debating which water to get at the store and finally got one of each and in the end none of them were carbonated, and we never saw carbonated water again while we were there. Weird. :-)

Also, at various places outside, bottled water was dirt cheap – maybe 2-3 Yuan on average, which is about 30-45 cents. We got spoiled paying that and at the Great Wall, this one place was selling it for 20 and we turned up our noses at it. :-) $3 for water? That’s like American prices!

After that was taken care of, we got a taxi and headed to Yonghegong, the Lama Temple, which is a still active Buddhist temple. There were stores all around the entrance selling incense and there were lots of incense burners inside and people praying. You could take pics of everything but inside the halls, which is where the Buddhas were.

A little history courtesy of Wikipedia: “Building work on the Yonghegong Temple started in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty. It originally served as an official residence for court eunuchs. It was then converted into the court of the Prince Yong (Yin Zhen), a son of the Kangxi Emperor and himself the future Yongzheng Emperor. After Yongzheng’s ascension to the throne in 1722, half of the building was converted into a lamasery, a monastery for monks of Tibetan Buddhism. The other half remained an imperial palace.

After Yongzheng’s death in 1735, his coffin was placed in the temple. The Qianlong Emperor, Yongzheng’s successor, gave the temple imperial status signified by having its turquoise tiles replaced with yellow tiles which were reserved for the emperor. Subsequently, the monastery became a residence for large numbers of Tibetan Buddhist monks from Mongolia and Tibet, and so the Yonghe Lamasery became the national centre of Lama administration.

The temple is said to have survived the Cultural Revolution due to the intervention of Prime Minister Zhou Enlai. It was reopened to the public in 1981.”

It was pretty crowded also.

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The thing about China is that this same painted architecture was everywhere, with little variation. Some of it was repainted for the Olympics. Some of it was older, much of it was rebuilt in the 1860s or 1880s because much of the really old stuff was burned down by lightning or the French and English during the Opium Wars or suffered during the Boxer Rebellion. Oh yes, and let’s not for the sheer death and destruction of the Cultural Revolution during the 1960s and 70s.

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One of the shops that sold Buddhas:
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You can see the approximate layout of the temple here:
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And if you want more info:
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Bell Tower from 1744 AD:
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Details of the bell:
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This (Tibetan?) script was all over and it reminded me of the Uncharted 2 game.
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These prayer wheels reminded me of Uncharted 2 also!
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Imperial buildings have these figures on the corners of the roof. The more they have, the more important it is. But I don’t think there are more than 9, because 9 is a lucky number. I think they are the Dragon’s sons or something – and the Dragon is in back of them.

This one has 5.
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We had gotten audio guides, which weren’t really worth it. When we returned them we managed to convey that we wanted to go to Bei Hai Park next, and the guy behind the counter wrote the Chinese characters down for us so we could show them to a taxi driver. That ended up working out really well!

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