We are getting used to the time change by now! We are now waking up an hour later then the previous day. Some of us started waking up in the middle of dawn, now 5 am is about the norm!
Today was our last day in Beijing. We started our day by visiting the Temple of Heaven, a huge, serene, wooden mushroom shaped structure built for emperors to please the gods with sacrifices for good harvests. Built in the 15th century by Ming emperor Yongle, known by many as the “architect of heaven”, the temple’s grounds surpass the size of the Forbidden City and its buildings are meant to represent the right directions for heaven and earth.
We were so lucky to start our day with a Taiqichuan lesson in the Temple of Heaven. Our teacher led us into stretching exercises that had us all holding positions for quite a while, making our legs burn at times. Our “shifu” or master also taught us some self- defense, techniques. It was quite an experience.
After our lesson, we left Beijing for the Xi’An by plane. The two hour flight gave some of us time to catch up with some sleep. Formerly known as Chang’an meaning Long Peace, Xi’An was one of the ancient world’s greatest capitals, a city enriched by both culture and trade through the Silk Road. Xi’An is also known as the cradle of China’s first emperor who belonged to the Qin Dynasty and from which the word China is derived.
We were greeted by our local guide who took us to the 39-foot-high wall surrounding the city for an exhilarating bike ride. After our ride, we headed to our hotel for a delicious hot pot dinner. We ended the day with a short tour of the city where we were able to enjoy the grandeur of the Wall, the Drum Tower and Bell Tower lit at night.
Stay tuned for the Terra-Cotta Warriors tomorrow.