|Any morning in the park|
|Back hand ball|
|Looking for a groom|
|Tai Chi with master|
|What's behind the door|
|With female lion at Forbidden City|
|Only the Emperor stepped here|
We wandered until we came to a small opening among the pines and there was a Tai Chi master who would take us through the morning moves. He was dressed in a white silk pajama outfit. Having experienced Tai Chi many times in the past, I tried to follow the Master in his well-balanced moves. He explained the whys of positions - mostly for self-defense - and said we were "very good" by the time we were done and everything was aching. Tai Chi is tough if you do it right. From here we went to the Temple of Heaven - I guess a stop there isn't such a bad idea. It is not as ornate as one would think. And there is nothing to go into, just concrete bridges of various levels to cross. At the top is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests where people can pray - from outside - for prosperity or a good crop.
|Restorer of Qian Long's quarters|
|Temple of Heaven|
|New friends in China|
|Da Dong Restaurant|
We had special - more special than I realized - privilege to have a peek at one of the interior rooms (no one is allowed this, apparently), the quarters where the only emperor who ever "retired" stayed til his death. We had to put covers on our shoes. The first thing I noticed besides the elegant embroidery and panels and bamboo work and wall paintings, was that I had to duck my head through every doorway (that wasn't really a door but just a passageway.) The beds of the emperor were definitely short. We were taken to the room where the Peking Opera would have been performed for his entertainment and then, wow upon wow, we were allowed to go up stairs to the balcony area from which the emperor could also have viewed entertainment. I was told no foreigner has ever been allowed that privilege. The delicacy and smallness were impactive and it was something I will remember forever. The entire ceiling was painted with wisteria vines.
To top off the night, another bucket list check-off - We ate Peking Duck at the most famous "duck" restaurant in the nation - Da Dong on the 10th floor of a Mall. Truly it was an extreme experience and the duck, having been roasted over apricot wood, was served in a crepe, in a "hamburger" bun (would that a hamburger had that kind of bun!) and dipped in crystal sugar.
After this we went to the Peking Opera, a one hour presentation (couldn't take much more) of a traditional war opera where the two major characters lifted legs and twirled and fought with sticks and hands - (all faked) in movements that took our breath away. Can't say much for the music and sounds, nor the very screechy voices (all male), but it was splendid, in Jing Ju style, at the Li Yuan Theater and the ultimate for our Beijing experience.