travel & lifestyle blog by ruth dela cruz


Sights and Scams: Temple of Heaven (Beijing, China)

February 3, 2012

Good Morning Beijing! It was officially our first day in Beijing. I cannot remember if we actually slept that night. When we arrived in the hotel, we were still awake at 4:00AM but we had to get up and eat heavy breakfast for today’s trip. We were planning to visit the Temple of Heaven which is just near Holiday Inn Express.

So we went down to the second floor of the hotel for breakfast. We were surprised to see that there were actually alot of guests checked in!

 Breakfast is the typical continental breakfast. 

We just had bread, butter & jam on the succeeding days.. On our first morning, 
we tried all the food in the buffet tables.

Saw this man cleaning the building exteriors. Amazing how they keep the buildings clean. 
Wonder if they do it everyday?!
Btw, the second floor cafe area also has laptop stations.. 
I tried accessing Facebook and Twitter –
Of course I failed. Even the “like” button in my blog posts are not visible when I checked my site.
Fact: You cannot access Facebook and Twitter in China!  
Don’t risk your life! Kidding. 🙂

After meal, we went outside.. and had more coffee. We are crazy tourists, I know – lazing around instead of making the most of our time. We actually don’t want to stress ourselves with itineraries. I think it took us another hour before we got ready to explore places.

Looking at this view, I wonder how’s everything in Manila? 
How’s my parents? How’s work? 
My roaming was not activated on time, 
so I literally didn’t have connection with my world!

We finally locked our hotel room and went out to explore places. First stop, Temple of Heaven. It is very near our hotel (like, 15-minute walk). They say the door to heaven is narrow, but the gates were wide-open when we got to the place. Here’s what greeted us inside..

We didn’t know where to start – should we go East or West or North?! We didn’t want to buy the map since we had printed some guides, so we just walked straight and explore the temples and halls that we see.

Our favorite place in the Temple of Heaven, is the Hall of Abstinence. I had my picture taken in that hall. I tried to behaved that day. I’d rather not post here, but if you are my friend in Facebook, you should be able to see that pic in my album! Traveling is really fun with friends!


It is just weird that even if we already paid for our entrance fee, there are some halls and places inside which ask for fee before you can get inside. We paid anyway,  around CNY10 (Php70).

Wonder how big the place is? Here you go:

Based on Wikipedia: The temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven (simplified Chinese: 天坛; traditional Chinese: 天壇; pinyin: Tiāntán; Manchu: Abkai mukdehun) is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. It is regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese Heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism.

We finally reached a place that looks like a food court with food stalls, and stores selling China products. We took a rest and had coffee..

I checked the stores and the products being sold. There are keychains, chopsticks, figurines, and alot of other products and souvenirs.

While checking some items, a guy approached me and offered me a Photo Package which I can wear a very nice China dress (like an Empress!) complete with headress and my picture would be taken on a very nice background (like you own your own palace!). Sample pictures were posted in the kiosk and the makeshift studio really looks nice. He was offering CNY 30 for photo. I said no. But he didn’t let me go, probably he could smell the CamWhore in my blood. I jokingly asked if I can take it at CNY 20 and he said yes.

So he escorted me inside, two attendants assisted me with the costume. I chose the red one with nice dragon embroidery. They kept of telling me “Moda? Moda?!”.

I was like, what?! “Are you modah? Modah?” I was still clueless. Then they said, “Are you modah? Supahstah?!”

Oh, okay, they thought I were a model! I said no. But I was thinking I could have said yes – they wouldn’t know anyway. Haha

So they assisted me and dressed me with nice dress. I did a little touch ups, and the guy escorted me to my “palace”. The photographer even taught me how to pose. I kept on telling him I want a headress. I was being excited and impatient. I later found out I would wear my headress once I was ready to smile and pose. So he took 6 different shots and I wore 6 different headresses, with 6 different poses. He kept on saying “very nice. very beautiful” after every shot. I had a feeling something was not right.

So when it was time to remove the dress and headress, the guy was charging me CNY 20 for each photo, and I need to get 6!

What?! I just wanted 1 shot. I said no. He didn’t tell me about the whole package and deal. He was selling the package for CNY 20 not each photo and not that I need to get 6.

One Korean lady beside me just took her photos and she too was surprised with the package – she told us, the guy is a cheat. So the guy and I were debating. I told him I only wanted one picture. We were making a scene. I wanted to just leave, but I was worried they might use my pictures and publish them somewhere. Plus, I also wanted some copies. I told him, okay will meet half-way. I will only get 3 photos. 3 or nothing.

He agreed. So we chose the best shots. While I was preparing my money, he even offered all 6 photos for only CNY 90. I said no. I only wanted the 3 shots. Besides, I look like a drag queen in the other pictures. So we settled it. Good thing that my mom liked my pictures when I showed them to her. And I think it is worth my money since that’s one thing I can never do again. Unless I go back to Beijing which I don’t have plans of.

Other than that scam, we discovered one good souvenir item by Zhang Yue Ying. She drafts your name based on symbols. Really nice art and simply amazing.

She interprets each symbol as she creates the art through colors and brush.

I am impressed because it seems that she knows the background of each person as she used each symbol.
For my niece’s name, she used really nice symbols – 
like bamboo for good future, butterfly means beautiful.. 
I never told her that the name is of my little niece’s. 
She just asked if the name is for a girl or boy. 

After like 4 hours, we decided to leave the Temple of Heaven and see other places. I will talk about where we headed on my next post.

So please come back to my blogsite, I will wait for you here.

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