Still Day 1
Being our first day excursion, we arrived to this downtown center site with eyes wide open – most of us have been awake since 3-4AM! Entering from the south, the first impression is that of a huge park with a white stone roadway that is 50m wide and almost half a kilometer long, lined with trees; A truly impressive sight. Off to the left just after we entered we heard the sounds of traditional Chinese music and saw in this tranquil park setting dozens of Chinese women dancing - more or less line dancing to music doing tai chi moves, it was magnificent to see. Men playing hacki-sak, tossing a ball back and forth, badminton, painting huge Chinese letter on the ground from a 3 foot long paint brush. The park is like a community centre with all the seniors doing their morning exercises! It was so amazing.
The Temple of Heaven site was built on 667 acres 1420 AD during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifices to heaven. Rising in elevation from the south to the north representing earth in the south and heaven in the north, it has several buildings. Two of these – Hall of prayer for good harvest in the south and the Imperial vault of heaven in the north are connected by the Vermilion steps bridge. The emperors believed that they could go to heaven by passing along this long 250M bridge.
Just outside the Imperial vault is Three Echo Stones. A circle of stones with a perimeter of 193M. If you speak facing the Vault while standing on the first stone, you will hear one echo; standing on the second and then the third stone, you will hear two and three echoes respectively.
The final visual site is that of a cypress tree that is 500 years old and has become known as the “Nine Dragon” cypress because of nine of the branches that look like dragons.
Lots of easy walking at a relaxed pace with stops along the way to take pictures on this tour. From beginning to end it lasted almost 2.5 hours.