An Unexpected Moment of Calm in Busy Beijing

Confucious Temple, Beijing
Confucius Temple, Beijing

I remember a time, a long time ago, when we could see the sun in the sky and feel it’s warmth. I’m not sure when this mythical time was, but I believe the ancient iphone photo above can be dated to around September 2013.  A magical day (I’m not sure it really happened) because we found somewhere quiet and peaceful in the middle of busy Beijing.

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We had originally intended to visit the Lama Temple that day but, when we arrived, we realised it was closing at 4pm. As we walked through the nearby hutong, we noticed an entrance gate we had never come across before. Peering inside, we saw an oasis like vision of beautiful temple buildings, lush trees and a quite courtyard with very few people. We quickly paid the small entrance fee and in a few steps, were enveloped into the serene atmosphere of the Confucius Temple. Gone were the honks of car horns and the chaotic streets. Instead we enjoyed quiet peacefulness, watched people bow to Confucius statues (something I didn’t know happened) and were bathed in a beautiful light which I have never experienced before or since in Bejing City.

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Since we didn’t have our cameras, a few poor quality iphone photos are all that exist of evidence of the day we timed it perfectly and found a new favourite place in Beijing. Thank you Confucius!

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Ps- I recently read a very interesting article about Confucianism in the New Yorker (courtesy of Justin’s ipad).  Evan Osnos (who lived next to the Confucius Temple in Beijing- wow!) writes about the rise of Confucianism in China, as well as informing us of the darker history of the Beijing Confucius Temple. Unfortunately you need a subscription to read it, but they do offer free trails if you fancy learning more. This Lonely Planet page also briefly mentions some of the temple’s history.

8 thoughts on “An Unexpected Moment of Calm in Busy Beijing

  1. Gasp! Where are all the people?! It’s hard to believe that is in Beijing, the most crowded place I have ever experienced – and I lived in Shanghai! I remember feeling so overwhelmed by the crowds at the Forbidden City and couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Maybe if we had stumbled on this peaceful place I’d have left with a more favorable impression of the city!

    1. Haha I know, it’s not how you imagine Beijing, right? We have been quite lucky and managed to find some quiet places. I agree about the Forbidden City- it is so busy. Of course, it’s essential to see all the big sites in Beijing but I’m glad I’ve seen most of them now and can concentrate on finding quiet hangouts in places like the hutong or 798 Art district.

  2. I have been to Beijing twice, in April and in October 2013 and also visited the Confucius temple during my most recent visit in late October. Also when I was there, there weren’t many people so I experienced it as a real peaceful and quiet place. I was more than lucky to sample a dancing ceremony. I guess, you visited the Lama temple in between? I have been there twice and really liked it even though there were a lot more people than in the Confucius temple complex. So how is the smog situation right now? I love Beijing and would love to go back in a heartbeat but also heard that the smog situation must be really bad at the moment.

    1. Hi Vanessa. Yes, I’ve been to Lama temple too. I loved it there too. Lama temple and Confucius temple are two places I could keep going back to. The smog is really bad at the moment. It’s been between 300-450 for the last few days (going by the US Embassy readings which are the most accurate.) It’s really horrible! I hope it clears up soon and you get to come back some day.

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