Day 15 Tiantan, Museum, Beihai, Kungfu
On the first day of our tour in Beijing, we started out with the 天坛/Prayer Hall for Harvests in all its touristy glory. (Personally, though, I have to admit that I am slightly biased toward Han/Tang era building styles than I am the Ming/Qing styles.
Compare: Qing style vs. Tang style
Afterwards, we went to the Museum of Ancient Architecture (a place where it appears that is almost unheard of by tourists given how empty it was :-/) and looked at pics of the other cool buildings that we weren't able to see on this trip. It also had cool stuff such as a model layout of the city of Beijing in the Qing Dynasty (similar to the one of Chang'an we saw at the Tang Paradise), which was awesome. And yes, Beijing was larger than Chang'an was, though it didn't have Chang'an's perfectly grid-like streets. Also somewhat annoying were the lights on the map, which interferes with the auto-focus function of digital cameras. It's one place where an old style film-based camera would have been better, I guess.
Lunch was eaten at another vegetarian Buddhist place. This place was better than the one we had in Xi'an though. The dish with several types of mushrooms in it was good. The faux-fish soup dish also had 'jellyfish' in it made out of vermicelli, which was cool.
After lunch, we went to Beihai Park (actually, just the Jade Islet part of it). The twins of course wanted to climb anything that went up, so we found ourselves hiking all the way to the top where the pagoda hat thingy was (couldn't actually go up that pagoda thing cuz it required separate tickets). Explained several pics on the eaves of the corridor to the girls. Also visited the Pavilion of Ancient Works on the islet, where houses the writings of Wangxizhi (actually, just the rubbings of the original tablets that were there are displayed nowadays).
Finally, the last item of the evening was a kungfu show that we'd actually added at the last minute (this morning, in fact). It was a combo of martial arts, dancing, and some acrobatics. I thought it was ok; definitely touristy though.
We came back to go anywhere fancy for dinner, so we just ate at the food court of the New World mall nearby our hotel.
Tomorrow is the Forbidden City, and hopefully we'll be able to make the duck place that cashew suggested in the evening. Would it be ok to reserve at that place in the morning? Or do they need to reserve even further ahead than that?