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    Tuesday 8 September 2009

    Day Seven – Temple of the Heavens

    We actually slept in today, leaving the hotel after 2pm! As we’re rather central to most of the historic sights, we walked around the area, leading us to the night markets, which had already begun. There live insects on sticks could be consumed or skewers of small hearts. Totally disgusting!! Naturally the market sellers jump into action the moment they see tourists.
    Taking in a local store, we picked up some bottles of Vanilla Coke. Coke is written in Chinese and only costs RMB3 (30cent) a bottle, a far cry from the €1.70 back home. If you buy from the street sellers, this drops to RMB1 (10cent).
    We wandered onto a new high street that is being built to replicate an old/traditional street. It’s must be 1km long, but contains modern/western stores like H&M and Zara. Building construction operates 24/7 here, so I’m sure they will have this area finished in time for the Oct 1 public holidays.
    Wandering around, we stumbled into a houton market. The houtons are narrow/labyrinth type backstreets, part of original Beijing, which more and more are being torn down to build their new city. The place was such a sensual treat; locals bought and sold all manners of items. Young and old mixed. We stood out naturally being the only two non-locals. A real treat and find.
    Our wanderings lead us to the Temple of Heaven and it’s surrounding park. Unfortunately it was too late to gain entry into the actual monument, but we did spend a good 2 hours wandering around the park, which was truly beautifully. The site represents the sun/heavens and earth through circle and square references respectively.

    There are three main religious buildings, each of which would have been used as part of a lengthy religious ritual to the gods. As would you expect, traditional Chinese architecture is to be found throughout the park. As it was closed to the public for many years, everything is rather intact.
    Leaving the park, we stumbled upon the Pearl Market, a 3 story indoor department like store of copy-everything. They had an entire section for Abercrombie, all fake and overpriced for fakes too. We tried to haggle down to €5 for a tshirt, but walked away when their best offer was €8 from an original €30.
    Oh we also found the only Apple Store in China, the open wifi connection allowed us to skype back home :)
    That evening we popped out to one of the entertainment district, a whole €1.40 taxi ride (around 15 minutes) were we visited a club. 

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