The skies have been blue in Beijing for almost the whole week. I can hardly believe it! Blue skies (or lack of them) are one of the reasons I hated winter in London and longed to move back to Asia. The British greyness and damp in Winter is so miserable. When I lived in Korea, I loved the crisp and cold winter days that were full of dry air and blue skies. Whilst I love Spring and Autumn in England (and Summer of course, when we get it) I can’t bare the cold, wet winters. Ironic then, that I escaped the grey of a London Winter to end up living in the dark Beijing smog. But when the air is clear in Beijing, everything looks beautiful. The sky is blue, the air is crisp- and it’s exactly what I wanted.
We’ve been so lucky this year and the winter has not been too cold at all. While night time and early morning temperatures were often -13c, middle of the day temperatures were barely below 0. This meant perfect weather for exploring Beijing and warming up afterwards in cafes and restaurants.
One such perfect day involved a visit to the Lama Temple. Visiting temples and Buddha statues are probably one of my favourite Asian pass times! I have visited many in Korea, Thailand and Mynamar and I love how each country has it’s own style. Once, when visiting a temple by myself in South Korea, I was befriended by a monk and an older woman who was accompanying him. We walked around the temple together and even shared a meal together outside the monks living quarters. We managed to have a really interesting conversation, despite the language barrier. It was an unforgettable experience, that’s for sure, especially when the monk gave me a lift back to the bus station in his huge SUV!
We had originally planned to go to Lama Temple months before (when we ended up at the Confucius Temple) but finally got round to it on a recent, sunny winters day. It was worth the wait and did not disappoint. It’s a large and beautiful temple with many different buildings and statues. My favourite was the statue in the last building, but I won’t tell you why as it was such an amazing surprise!
In some of the trees near the entrance to the temple, there appeared to be some kind of orange fruit growing at the top. I spent some time speculating over what they were. The fruit was only at the top of the trees and I half considered the idea that someone had put them up there for decoration. I still don’t know what they were or why they were up there in the middle of winter.
As with any perfect winter day in Beijing, the trip to the temple was followed by a wander around the hutong (Lama Temple is right opposite Wudaoying- a street full of cafes, restaurants and boutiques). It didn’t seem that long ago since we’d sat outside a cafe there drinking beer on a hot summer’s night, but it was definitely time for an indoor coffee this time. I love how so many little cafes in Beijing have hand written menus!
I loved Lama Temple and will definitely return. It’s easy to get to- just go to the Yonghegong Lama Temple subway stop, or ask a taxi driver to take you to Yonghegong. They all know it!
What’s your favourite thing to do on a Winter’s day? And what do you think those orange fruit things were (no, they weren’t oranges!)?