Friday, June 18, 2010

People watching at The Temple of Heaven

I remember before I moved here everybody warned me about the sheer amount of people everywhere. When I first arrived I was surprised because it seemed like the busiest place was definitely the subway, but other than that it wasn't as crowded as I expected it to be. Well, today I found out where all the people are... the train station! The subway ride to the train station, then the walk from the subway station to the train station was absolutely like nothing I have ever seen before. I was at Grand Central this past Christmas and that is nothing compared to what I experienced on a non-holiday in Beijing! WOW! After we arrived inside, we stood in line for 15 minutes, said in perfect Chinese "I would like to buy two tickets to Xi'an," and then immediately was told to go to window #16. Off we went to window #16... to find that it was the bilingual window. LOL! Then, we waited another 10 minutes at this window only to use NO English whatsoever, everything was done in Chinese with no problems at all. Sometimes when Chinese comes out of our white mouths, it blows their mind so much they seriously can't figure out what is happening.

Regardless, we have successfully purchased our first train tickets in China! Next Wednesday we are taking a night train from Beijing to Xi'an, after a few days in Xi'an we will make our way to Pingyao, where we are going to stay in a completely amazing traditional Chinese siheyuan home (courtyard home), then from Pingyao we will take a train to Datong, then back to Beijing. We are really looking forward to this trip! There is so much to see around these areas.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. This past Sunday my husband and I woke up early and ventured out to Tiantan Park - 天坛公园 . If you get there early enough you can catch all sorts of interesting sights, including large groups of people dancing, people doing taiqi in the woods, hoards of people working out in the park. Its an amazing place and if you are ever in Beijing you need to wake up early and make it out to Tiantan Park, it is one of the best people-watching experiences in Beijing!

Everyone works out here, look at the mass amount of people! Doing all kinds of hard exercises.

The hubby playing Chinese-style hackey sack with a random guy! Called "jianzi." You can see it to the left of my husband - its the colorful feathers flying through the air.

Traditional Chinese dance

Hundreds of people were dancing in the park on a Sunday morning before 9:00am. I love her serious expression.

This is the place where the moms and dads meet up to hopefully find love matches for their kids!

You can see on the bench next to the guy - there are pieces of paper - on this they have information written down about their son or daughter... age, educational background, work experience, etc.

I liked his hat.

The hubby and his new best friend. Look at how the guy covered my husband's fingers with his hand. LOL! He was so sweet. They talked about old values, politics and modern China. I smiled and nodded, because its not my subject. :)

If you can pretend that this really is fog, its beautiful.

Me standing in front of the Temple of Heaven.

A Japanese art student - I know he is Japanese because he told me when I started speaking Chinese to him!


Walking around the park in 4 inch red stilettos - I couldn't do it!

They were dancing, having a blast. Shortly after this picture was taken my husband offered me to dance with the nice Chinese man next to me... I politely declined... LOL.

I hope you enjoyed a typical Sunday morning stroll through Tiantan Park with me!



  1. How fun! Where is your outfit from? I've been looking for a shirt like that!

  2. Katie, thanks! I love the shirt! Its from Zara. The shorts are really cute too, I am glad I bought them- they are from J. Crew.

  3. So cute! Everyone looks like they're having a good time :D

  4. Oh my gosh, I'm sure that's frustrating! You spent all that time learning Chinese, and they STILL send you to the bilingual window, lol!

  5. Polish and pearls - LOL! exactly! It was so funny. Another thing - you can have a white person pretty much fluent in Chinese, and then an Asian American that speaks no Chinese whatsoever, but because the person looks like they should speak Chinese, they get the menus, the attention, the speaking - its really funny. A friend who lived here for the past year told us she made it into a game - she speaks Chinese, they speak English, she speaks Chinese, they speak English, she speaks Chinese... until eventually she "wins" and they just switch to Chinese. Hah.

  6. What interesting pictures. So many people (so early in the morning) in the park, that's so ... different! I've been to Xi'an!

  7. So cute! Love the pics. I love that people there seem to be so active and place more of an emphasis on health than we do here.

  8. lol at the bilingual window! I went to tiantan park this past winter and absolutely fell in love with it. It was freezing so I didnt see as many people as you did. the place is so gorgeous. Looking at your posts makes me miss beijing so much. people there are so nice and kind. I love seeing the pics you took of Beijing people. I saw a lot of them doing the same dance, playing jianzi too not at the temple of heaven but huohai, have you been? that place is beautiful too!

  9. There's an amazing amount of life and culture in your photos :)

    It looks like SO much fun!

    I can't believe they take their son/daughter's personal info to go be matchmakers.....that's very interesting! But smart in a way.....Mom & Dad always know best!

  10. That last picture is beautiful! This post makes me miss China so much :) Loveee your blog.

  11. Winnie - I know, Tiantan is a special place. I have been to Houhai, its a really cool area especially at night because there are a lot of bars! I am glad you liked Beijing!!

    Woodlandsblonde - I know, funny huh? I did a post on it earlier and there is a video on it someone else did, its really funny and short, worth watching if you have time! It was last month and post is titled "Matchmaker matchmaker in Beijing."

    Kamara - thanks so much!

    Andi - they do put a lot of focus on healthy eating and exercise and natural remedies. The one area that to me sort of conflicts with that is that they use MSG in almost all their food, at least when you go out to a restaurant.

    Cafebellini - if you have any tips for Xi'an, let me know!!

    Thanks for commenting everyone!


  12. aww i'm so jealous! i really miss beijing. i really haven't been back for 7 years. i had a great opportunity in august but my family is moving again. enjoy lots of kao ya for me!

  13. How fun! The lottery workout parks everywhere are so col and something that america should seriouly look at, we loved stopping and playing/working out at them.

    You have to go to one of the parks at night when they have the dances it was one of the best nights we had there.

  14. I'd heard about the grandparents pimping out their grandkids, but never seen pictures! Haha that's so great. Do they not put up pictures though?

  15. Great post, I love the serious dancing woman, she is my favorite!

    Chic on the Cheap

  16. Honestly I have no idea how I didn't stumble upon your blog sooner. Everywhere that you are talking about in China I have been to! Temple of Heaven in Beijing - yes! Datong, Pingyao, Xi'an - yes yes yes! Been there! You are going to have an amazing time on your trip. High five to speaking Chinese too. I haven't been able to tackle that - it's so hard! :)