China 1985

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

China 1985

Our last full day in China began with free time in the morning.  I was determined to make another attempt at obtaining souvenir brochures of Beijing for the boys, but also to undertake some fieldwork in the older sections of the city.  I began by taking a taxi to Qianmen, south of Tian An Men Square.  I then walked south to Dazhalan, a narrow hutong of old fashioned shops and some architecture unlike any I had seen anywhere else.  The facade of one shop, for example, consisted entirely of intricate dark green wrought iron.

After some strolling around. I walked via Tian An Men Square to Wangfujing Dajie, one of Beijing’s main shopping streets.  I had several addresses of bookstores, travel centres and publication offices which might have brochures or small booklets on Beijing.  However, despite much walking and questioning, I was only able to locate material on every other city in China.  After a look around the Beijing Hotel, including a partially successful attempt to get a view of the Forbidden City from the 17th floor, I returned to our hotel by taxi for lunch.

That afternoon, we visited the Temple of Heaven, our last sightseeing excursion in China.  It was the place where the emperors of China came each year to pray for a successful harvest for the nation.  The blue roofed round Qing Dynasty built buildings looked magnificent under the strong (but not too warm) sunlight.  The group climbed to the top of an artificial hill created by the dumped waste dirt and rocks from the construction of the Underground City during the Cultural Revolution.  The view was probably one of the best in Beijing, showing the Temple of Heaven on its raised white marble base with Beijing’s new high rise units as a distant backdrop.

The students were fascinated by the triple echo stones and the echo wall in front of the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Round Altar (which looks square from a distance), the geometry of which revolves around the revered number nine.  The visit became particularly satisfying for me with the chance discovery in the small souvenir shop of the brochures I had been searching for across Beijing.

That evening we proceeded to a (so-called) Peking Duck dinner at the Qilin Hotel.  We finished the evening with a most worthwhile reflection session and a party.  There was a great atmosphere and sense of community, typical of the trip as a whole.

Day 20


Sunday, 22 December 1985