A great welcome.

Yesterday’s rain is completely forgotten. Today the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the temperature is just good: warm but not hot. I don’t have a very detailed plan in mind but I know that I would like to spend most of time walking in the north-west area of town starting from the park and the lake close to the hutong where my hotel is located. I should say that, in spite of the good impression I’ve got yesterday I’m still a bit worried about the possible Chinese chaos I can face in Beijing so I’m very surprised when I don’t see crowd at all. Along the Dongbuyaqiao Hutong and its canal I just meet families with children and very few tourists. Since the day looks very promising, let’s plunge immediately into China’s Capital.

An amazing chant.

I’m heading toward Qianhai lake, I want to start strolling around it, but before getting there I’m attracted by Huode Zhenjun, a Taoist temple also known as Fire God temple. What catches my attention is not only the colourful lanterns e the bright decorations but also a chant coming from inside. I find it so nice and professional that when I see loudspeakers I immediately think that they’re just playing a record but instead, it is enough to take a look inside the building to see monks singing. There is some sort of religious ceremony in progress and I spy it from the door and the windows. If I still needed something to finally feel really in China this is definitely that something. In order to experience partially the same feeling I’m putting here below an excerpt of the several minutes of audio recording I did. Don’t you feel a bit in China too, listening to the music?
In the end I’ve spent about half an hour at the temple, going around while music was still in background, photographing all details I liked such as the lanterns and the red tags people hang on ‘blessing trees’ to make their wishes come true. I liked so much the temple that when I see on a public map that there are others near by I decided to visit them as well. They’re not comparable to Huode Zhenjun. They’re actually Buddhist temples, not Taoist. It would be that the reason? To be honest I don’t know yet. I need to read more on the topic. However in one of them called Guanghua Temple (广化寺) I see something weird: a fish shop within temple boundaries and, this not surprisingly, a lot of cats. But ok, now is time to revert to my original plan heading toward the lake.

A beautiful world is all around

I keep being amazed by what I’m seeing around. There are bike rickshaws, open kitchen restaurants where you can see cooks preparing dumplings, newlyweds taking pictures in the streets in poses that I would define very far eastern, people doing gym open-air and children, really a lot of children, such a perfect subject for my camera. I follow the shore of the lake and the walk offers always new interesting glimpses. I’ve read on the map that almost at the end there is “Lotus Market” and so I do expect to find a real trading market but maybe this is just an historical name and market is not held anymore or they still do it but on a different day. However, if there’s no market, surely there are a lot of lotus: a huge and fascinating expanse of lotus flowers. On the surface of the small lake there are many boats. There would be also the chance to rent a duck-shaped one. I have to admit that I’m tempted by that idea but in the end I prefer to go on with my tour. I’m sure the day has still a lot of things to offer.

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