So about 300 years ago the Emperor decided to build a temple in Beijing for the Dalai Lama. It as an amazing plethora of Hindu, Tibetan, and Mahayana Buddhism. At the end of the temple there is a buddha that is probably about 40 ft. high and carved out of one entire white sandalwood tree. It's ridiculous to even think of something like that let alone see it. Besides the giant Buddha they also have multiple rooms with multiple Buddhas. It's a great place and some great scenery.
After the Dalai Lama Temple we went on a 胡同tour. Hutong's are simply small alley ways that, in Old Beijing, were the conduits and sources of life. Nowadays, as development occurs and more modern things come to pass, these alleyways are now a historic monument to how people used to live in the old capital. With what meager photographic skills I have, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 
Before we went to the Front gate, my teacher was nice enough to invite my classmate and I to an interpretive dance performance that thankfully had little Chinese in it ;p. It possibly was one of the best choreographed dances ranging from martial arts and ballet, to swing and ballroom. It was an enlightening experience. I just threw in those pictures with this post because it was easier; we saw that performance on a Wednesday and wen to 前門or The Front gate on Friday. This place, used to be the foremost outer barrier to the Forbidden City. From royal passageway to family owned shops to high-end, trendy shops and restaurants, Qianmen has become a nice spot to get some local snacks, original Peking duck, or even silk. It was a really surreal to see things like Starbucks and high end clothe stores in traditional style architecture. Anyways, enjoy the pictures below. Miss you all! :)

So pretty much it feels like I've walked all over China. We had arranged tours at the same place of the Great Wall I was last time. It was fantastic this time around :). We had 2 hours and climbed to the highest part, overlooking the astounding Chinese scenery. Also, let me just say right here: I officially apologize for whatever grammar mistakes I have in my English. Not only is my grammar despicable in English already, but has continuously gotten worse as I learn more Chinese. Because I am lazy and not a historian, you can find information about the Great Wall(actually called long wall in Chinese)here.

Ming Tombs

The ming tombs are a series of tombs dedicated to the emperors of China, started of course by the Ming emperor(hence the name). It's actually more of a somber park with a bunch of pine trees. Beautiful, but somber. Enjoy, it's a nice and completely lavish place.
So to celebrate the illustrious Professor Zhang's birthday, we all decided on Peking Opera. Well… things never go as planned as there were complications and miscommunications from the theaters and performances(not uncommon in China), but mostly due to the birthday of the Communist Party. So in an effort to reconcile, Professor Zhang recommended a beautiful, endless place called Temple of Heaven. This was the first time I had been there so I was, needless to say, beside myself with excitement. We took some public transit, rode the subway, and walked… for what seemed like years in the forests of the Temple of Heaven. As the night went on, after we ate at the restaurant in the last post, we were all a little disappointed to hear that our new destination for Opera had changed their performance schedule due to the celebration, and the show was now beyond our measly level of comprehension. Dejectedly walking back through the Temple of Heaven was a little less bright this time, until…we heard a noise. ;)

Wonder why there's no cake? Click this pic to find out more!
As a separate post from the Temple of Heaven(which will be uploaded soon, I promise!) I wanted to dedicate this one to an amazing teacher and person: Professor Zhang. He's been there ever since I've learned Chinese and has given me expert instruction, that without I would be utterly nowhere. Coincidentally, do to the 90 year birthday of the Chinese Communist Party, the entire country was throwing a party too... all in favor of Professor Zhang! ;) 
Happy Birthday Professor!!



    This portion of my trip is where things get better; get interesting. I'm on my second wind in Beijing( a city I definitely prefer) and I'm ready to buckle down and learn some Chinese!


    July 2011
    June 2011