Our plane was late leaving and we landed even later than expected. I was so thankful that I had booked an airport hotel for the first night as it would have been terrible trying to get to our hotel in central Beijing at 11.30 at night. We asked one of the staff at the airport where we needed to go to get to the hotel. We were taken to the hotel shuttle bus and she promptly asked us for money. ‘What for?’ I asked. She kept saying, ‘Give me money.’ The bus driver said I did the right thing not giving her anything. It was her job to help passengers. The bus quickly took us to the hotel and we were so glad to enter our room and sink into our beds, after having a cup of tea of course.
Next morning we leisurely got up had our shower and a very nice breakfast before we headed of into the fray again.
Back at the airport we found the express train into the city and with a couple of changes on the subway trains we arrived at the station close to our hotel. The worst thing about negotiating transport when you arrive somewhere is luggage. Even with a smallish bag it can be difficult when you have to go up and down stairs without an escalator.
We arrived at the subway station close to our hotel, and then we had to negotiate a pedestrian subway. I was reading the map and turning around to my companion and then tripped on the very tiny step leading down to it. Note there are many tiny steps at entrances to subways, be alert. I eventually stood up but had a very sore and swollen knee.
The hotel was about a block away from Tiananmen Square. We checked in then decided to go to the Temple of Heaven. I had been here many years ago but for my friend it was the first time so I was seeing it afresh. It was a Taoist temple and was built from 1406 to 1420. It was renovated in the 18th century under Qianlong Emperor. The circular building is a stunning sight and is on a marble stone base. There are beautiful carvings of dragons in the marble in the centre of two sets of stairs. The temple is surrounded by pavilions and beautiful gardens home to a variety of birds. Walking through a long pavilion to the temple groups of Chinese were playing cards, talking and knitting. A real meeting place for many.
|Temple of Heaven|