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06 January 2008 @ 11:27 am
Two weeks in China: day 4 {The Drum Towers + Lama Temple}  
The 4th day of my trip was the first day that I was going to be alone.. Not being able to speak chinese, in a land that seemed not to speak any english, I was a little bit worried, but it turned out to be a good (though tiring!) day. I decided to go to the Lama temple, because it was near my friends' place-- in fact, so close that I could walk there! I'm really good at maps, so it'd be easy, I thought! Only...

I got lost! ^_^; I thought I was on one street on the map, but it turned out that I'd been on another all along. So I kind of just kept going for a while, wondering when I would get to the Lama temple, when I suddenly stumbled upon.. the Drum Tower! I actually still thought that it was the lama temple even *after* getting inside. Sure, they charge a fee to go in, but even on the ticket it never actually said what temple it was in English (which I found was a recurring phenomena in China). So it took me quite a while to realize that I had it wrong. >.>;;

According to my travel guide:
Although the current structure dates back to 1800, building similar to the Drum Tower have stood in this area for more than 700 years. During the Song Dynasty, an intricate system of bronze clepsydras (water clocks) mechanically sounded out the hours on a gong. Later, the hours were beaten out on 24 drums, but apparently only one drum was in use at any time.

Qing Dynasty timekeeping was a convoluted affair. A drum would sound 13 times at 7pm, then once every 2 hours thereafter - the watchman also struck a bamboo clapper to help locals distinguish between, for example, the hours of 11pm and 3am. This was important, as many high-ranking civil and military servants awoke at 1am, assembled outside the Forbidden City's Wumen gate at 3am, and entered the palace enmasse at 5am to receive the emperor's instructions for the day.

In any case though, the Drum Tower and the view from it were really amazing! I took some great pictures, tried to keep myself from striking the drums -which was forbidden- and eventually made my way down to go and find the Lama temple (thank god for having a map!).

I did get to the Lama temple (now that I was at the Bell tower, I could see where I had gone wrong on the map). It was really gorgeous! My only wish is that pictures were allowed inside the temples, which were the prettiest parts of all. This is common between Japan and China, I've noticed-- both that the most gorgeous part is inside the worshipping rooms, and that pictures are never allowed there. I'm not sure why. Perhaps some feel that it's being disrespectful, but I don't feel that a picture taken without a flash would disturb anyone or harm any of the objects inside..

Anyways, the Lama temple has actually been many things through it's time, including a residence for Court Eunuchs, an Emperor's residence, and a Lamasery for Buddhist Monks. It's currently an active of the latter, with quite a number of people still visiting and praying there.

Pretty lanterns along the early morning walk..

Some more 'scenery' from along the way..

Traditional Chinese houses... wow, I mean, wow.. these were nowhere near the dirtiest/most run down. I feel sorry for the people that have to live inside, if it's anything like the outsides. (At least there is no trash piled up here)

Much more developed area (yes..)

Here is the Drum Tower: At first I thought that it was the Lama Temple and I was confused because the roof tiles weren't yellow. ^^;;

I used to know, but I forget what these were used for..

Some views from the top... so so so gorgeous, old Beijing in the fog. If you take out the bus, it's easy to imagine what it might have looked like in old days..

Here is a panorama from the top (click)

And on to the Lama temple... Note the yellow roof tiles that denote an emperor's residence..

Detail of the animals on the roof edges.. These were common throughout buildings in China, I noticed..

I really loved the writing on this old bell..

Burning incense is a traditional part of worship in Buddhism

These turtles carrying scrolls on their backs were also common.. The turtle is seen as the symbol of longevity, but I'm not sure of the other significance. I'd really be interested in learning more!

These things spun when you touched them.. I sound ignorant, but I really have no idea what they are.

Isn't the detail gorgeous?! But the most beautiful place was always inside...

Next: Donghyue temple, the Ancient Observatory, the City Wall Ruins
Gin・ジン・仁・:): hard gay lykes mudkipsdenkimouse on January 6th, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
chinaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa i want to go so badly ._. srirgireigjariog so jealous
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 6th, 2008 05:28 am (UTC)
Next time, we should plan a trip together!! Like a girly trip with three or four of us. I know that Eda really wants to go too. ^^ I'd really like to go back to Beijing, especially when it's warm out! ^^
Gin・ジン・仁・:)denkimouse on January 6th, 2008 05:29 am (UTC)
oh yeah, something weird happened a few weeks ago involving some people i know through you... ill have to tell you next time i see you (dont know if i can discuss it here). it was really strange.
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 6th, 2008 05:34 am (UTC)
*blinkblink* Really? What happened? o.o;; (email me??)
Regx_reggg on January 6th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
there's been talk about the traditional chinese horses, like whether to preserve them or take them down. apparently tourists like seeing the old architecture of china (including the traditional houses) compared to the new modern buildings, so one side of the government wants to seem them there. but the living situation of the people inside the houses is so bad they can't wait for the government to pull it down...

i think the unknown object is used for detecting earthquakes? or it's a clock... i've seen it 9 years ago @___@;
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 6th, 2008 05:32 am (UTC)
Yeah... I think that maybe they should make some really cool museums like the one that Tokyo has, which show the insides of houses as they used to be, in a way that feels like you're actually inside them (there are at least three museums in Tokyo that I know of). That would be really awesome! I was really wondering what the insides of the traditional houses were like, and whether people in them were as poor as the neighborhood made them look or not. (I saw lots of nicely-dressed people wandering in those areas, but the houses look like the kind of places that people would only live in if they were far under the poverty line). It would be really nice if they did tear them down and make places that are better for people to live in, and then of course make the museums to preserve history.
tl;dree970 on January 6th, 2008 11:29 am (UTC)
apparently lots of rich foreigners have been purchasing lots of the hutong (traditional chinese shared houses) and refurbishing them... I wish the government would do it themselves, it would be so much better than the culturally and personality-free generic giant concrete highrises they have in, say, Seoul, Hong Kong and Taiwan replacing traditional housing... :(
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 7th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC)
They had a lot of those too, in China. Not just that, but personality-free, unfinished concrete highrises (Greg lives in one, and we joked that it was like a scene from a horror movie in the halls, complete with the flickering lights ^^;). But that makes me wonder if I should buy a Hutong complex and invest, myself! I mean, with the labor and material costs there, I could do it pretty cheaply!
キモさ満々♡ 미친 외국인: ebichu luvs PORN!!!dilettantka on January 6th, 2008 03:16 am (UTC)
AHHHHH these pictures turned out so great! *seethes with jealousy, lol***
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 6th, 2008 05:28 am (UTC)
*hugs* Next time, we'll go together!! ^^
Love Bye Love: Stock / Maneki Nekospidersky on January 6th, 2008 03:37 am (UTC)
The spinning thing is a Prayer Wheel. Spinning it clockwise is the same as saying the prayer that're written on it aloud. It also super-enhances the effects of the prayers if you say them before or after you spin it.

That particular one is a Wind Wheel. The wind spins it and the wind that touches the prayer wheel lowers the bad karmas of those around it.
Hi-chan (火ちゃん)hinoai on January 6th, 2008 05:29 am (UTC)
Oh wow thank you! That's really awesome, thanks for letting me know!
Katrina: peace happy tacchon by samuraiblueseveranangel604 on January 6th, 2008 04:42 am (UTC)
indeed, the details on the buildings are absolutely gorgeous! :D
Eajoa on January 6th, 2008 06:24 am (UTC)
Beautiful! I would have cried seeing all that! I get emotional when seeing the wonders of life, so to speak. I bawled at Fontana de Trevi, and at the Collusseum as well *laughs*
Linstarrbeam on January 6th, 2008 09:43 am (UTC)
Gorgeous pictures. I wish I had that kind of camera while I was in Korea :D
Can't wait to see more.
Firsa Asahiasahifirsa on January 6th, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC)
Beautiful pictures!

About the no pictures inside thing: I think the problem is that most people don't even know how to switch off the flash or have cameras where you can't switch off the flash. Another thing is that due to the low light conditions some photographers would try to take out their tripods and block other visitors. All it all things that would disrupt the people who actually want to pray there.
Kira_Shadowkira_shadow on January 6th, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC)
aah lanterns~
they must be preparing for the luna new year, too =3
*rolls around*

and yeah...in most asian countries maps are utterly useless since there always seem to be more streets than there are actually on it X_x
exclamation signkazenohoshi on January 6th, 2008 09:03 pm (UTC)
The reason (Though not really proven, but highly suspected) why one can't take pics inside sanctuaries/ famous sightings and thelikes:
1) So the people who maintain them can ask money when tv crews and the likes want to take pictures.
2) So the people who maintain them can sell picturebooks containing pics.

chibicerebuschibicerebus on January 7th, 2008 06:54 am (UTC)
Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing your trip.
Now I want to visit China one day.

That bell with the kanji on it is amazing. I wonder how long it took to create it.
Idyllka: rikkaidai prideidyllka on January 7th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
I also think that I am good with maps, but I don't think map would help me in China where I would not probably had a chance to check where I am at the time XD
These turtle does not look like turtle (^__^;;) if You didn't say that I would not noticed...
I'm curious what would they do to you if You could not resist and struck the drum? (o__O)
Chiakichiaki777 on January 8th, 2008 07:34 am (UTC)
well you got through just fine, so that's good. And such pretty sights ^^