Today’s post is a logical follow up to 2 previous articles I posted a few month ago and a few days ago.
First, let me introduce you to the topic: my visit and day in the Temple of the Sun, commonly named Ritan (pronounce Ju-ta-N), 日坛 in Chinese.
日 (ri) means « the day” (light day) and “sun” ; 坛 (tan) is the word for « altar » or « temple » in general. Remember that坛 (tan)? Yes, the “altar” signification in my previous article about the Temple of Earth, the temple full of altars because of its sacrifices purpose. If you don’t remember, I highly recommend to read that post, focused more on Chinese mythology and history (click here: https://romaingijsensblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/04/down-to-earth-chinese-mythology-part-i/). Then the meaning of Sun is kinda obvious: this is the temple representing the God Sun in the Chinese mythology.
A bit of history
The temple is a 600-year old historic site located not far from the animated place in Beijing. It became in 1951 a park as the Beijing Municipal People’s Government changed its status and extended it.
Nowadays, the park counts the main Altar, some rebuilt parts and some extension for kids (as a small amusement park) and places to enjoy a good moment with family or friends.
Among the 5 temples of the city (Temple of the Moon, Temple of Heaven, Temple of Earth and Temple of Agriculture), it is part of the 4 mythic Temple surrounding the center of the city, the Forbidden City and Tian An’men square. As I told you in the blogpost about the Temple of Earth, each has its own symbol. Earth is logically representative of the ground we step on, live onto. Heaven is the one on the opposite side as it faces up there in the sky. The Temple of the Sun is the western one, facing the eastern Temple of the Moon.
The temple of the Sun has been ransacked and deprived of many historical artefacts. Time and men destroyed parts of it. Originally, the red wall surrounding the Temple, symbolizing the Sun, has been ruined and rebuilt with bricks.
The scenic area
Inside, there is still a lot to admire though. The Yuxin Garden is a shady path for people to walk and sit in a hot summer day (and boy, it gets HOT in Beijing!). Sycamores trees protect you from the sun (funny in that temple) and provide, alongside the lake, a fresh environment to rest.
The southwestern scenic area is also a part of the park providing serenity, elegance and beautiful greened-lake landscape. A mix between South and North Chinese gardens style, you can take a walk on a winding pavilion alongside this lake with a small waterfall on its side.
I didn’t stay long enough, but the Qinghui Pavilion is known to be the best spot to witness a magnificent sunset in Beijing. Highest point in the park, you have an entire view on the Temple and its surroundings.
Like other parks and temples, Chinese people built inside some kind of amusement park and activities. You can usually play ping-pong or just sit on benches weaving here and there. Some other activities are also available, such as: badminton court, rock-climbing, miniature golf, a pool to fish and an area for kids.
My day in 日坛
This was a perfect sunny day. Summer is knocking out
a painful spring as the pollution took time to be blown away, so were the sandstorms.
Now, in Beijing, we have actually no more days below 30°C. Sometimes it’s suffocating, but the sun is here when you wake up, so is the blue sky and the
heat! I won’t complain, we have the air conditioners.
On that particular Sunday, I also experienced a new thing. I told you a bit about it in this #Brève (click here if you’ve missed it : https://romaingijsensblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/%E6%97%A5%E5%9D%9B-let-us-shine-like-the-sun/) I became a #malemodel for the day.
That day started as a normal Sunday: a #brunch with a friend (yes, I also wrote about that amazing place I went several times for brunches https://romaingijsensblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/brunch-summer-breeze-in-beijing/) and the visit of the art gallery behind it. Then we decided to go take a walk, grabbed two bikes and biked through the city. Not that far though, as the Temple of the Sun is around the town center! In the park, in front of the lotus lake, we saw Chinese girls taking one of their friends in pictures. She totally posed like a model! And I captured her as well! Then, something amazing happened: I became myself the model for my friend. He followed me around (we were together but you get my point) and captured me walking through the weaved path in the Temple. Some spots were indeed incredibly beautiful and I stopped more than once as I also enjoyed the scenery around us (giving us some funny open-mouth shots).
As I said in my daily #Brève, I am not model material: I am skinny, kinda small (1m75) and I have a big nose (which is great here in China, they are kinda obsessed with my nose and my leg/arm hair and beard). But I enjoyed it! I loved being for once not the one posing for my camera but for someone talented enough to do it! And I played my part as I took inspiration from my ex and models you can see on several covers or on Instagram. That was a lot of fun! In some way, I may be a figure to promote Chinese landscape! But that was it. I loved it but I won’t do it anymore.
Still, that normal day became a fun shooting day and changed the way people take pictures of me, as I have mentioned several times before.
Anywho, this park is really beautiful, and so close to my home so I’ll go check it out once more before I leave, as I can sit in and write you a new post soon!
See you soon guys!
All pics are mine and you can find more on my #Instagram : @romain_blog