When we arrived, the temple was full of uniformed security guards, laughing, teasing each other and giving each other piggy-back rides. I’m not saying this to mock them, but trying to describe the amazing holiday atmosphere.
I saw more public affection today that I have in the last 5 months in China.
The temple was full of families walking around, laughing, talking, eating, offering incense and playing games. Oddly enough, they weren’t lighting the incense and putting them in the burners, but laying it in front of the buddhas instead. I don’t know if there’s something special about New Years’ celebrations or if it’s a precaution to keep huge swarms of people from waving fire around.
I’ve heard that the White Cloud Temple is supposed to be the inspiration for the cloud designs on the Olympic torch. We found this mural that definately seemed like it!
(I’ve got another picture of this wall up on BeijingOlympicsFan as well.)
There was also a game in the temple that seemed to involve throwing coins and hitting a bell to make the bell ring. I think that’s what was going on. As proud as I am of my survival language skills, it’s just that: Survival level. I don’t have the ability to strike up a conversation or to ask people about what they’re doing.
When the temple closed, we caught a bus across town. We were planning on going up to Dongzhimen for dinner, but the bus took us past Houhai. We saw ice skaters on the lake, and decided to eat at one of the many cute restaurants overlooking the lake… we’ve been meaning to do this since there were swimmers in the lake.
Unfortunately, when we hopped off the bus in the spirit of exploration and adventure, we neglected to take into account just how cold it needs to be for ice-skating.
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Coming up next: Starfish are apparently edible, and China is actually Discworld. Unrelated photos to prove both statements.