As I reviewed where I finished off yesterday I realized I wrote Summer Palace when I most definitely meant Temple of Heaven. Which I plan on going to either Wednesday or Thursday. I'm thinking probably Wednesday and I could check out the zoo on Thursday. It's next to an Aquarium which could be really fun too. Forbidden city and Temple of Heaven on Wednesday and then Zoo and Aquarium on Thursday. That botanical garden is a little too far out of the way, rather it's not exactly located in Beijing (according to the tourists desk) so I guess I'll have to do a weekend trip to Montreal at some point to get to one. I could do the Biodome while I'm there too. Friday will be pretty much a lost day. Shower, eat, finish packing and hop a cab to the airport since I don’t want to bother with the shuttle bus. I'm too lazy to take the metro with my huge backpack, transfer stations and then walk a bit to the bus stop. I might get the driver to drop me off at Terminal 2 and take the airport shuttle to the 3rd terminal to save myself 30 kuai. This way I can have a good meal at the airport just before I leave since it'll take me 36 hours to get back home. I'm not looking forward to a 36 hour trip. Can't people hurry up and invent a teleportation device? Before Friday would be nice.
I woke up a little late today since I was pretty tired from the flight yesterday and the rock hard bed was surprisingly comfortable. I thought it would have taken me longer to get used to it again. Guess not. I did wake up a little stiff and sore but it's all good. The stiffness went away after a warm shower. I've already figured out the trick to keeping the water temperature at a nice steady temperature. You have to turn it on to scalding hot and then once it warms up flip it towards freezing and then place it back towards the middle between both hot and cold. I've had that problem wit the showers in Shanghai as well and that's how I fixed it so I tried it here and it worked! I also have to note that the shower stall size is huge here! I guess I got so used to taking a shower in a cramped space that a normal sized shower seems monstrously huge. The entire shower stall is about the total size of Martha's bathroom. After I got over my shock and excitement at a large shower I went to the bar for breakfast. I got there just a few minutes after they stopped serving breakfast food so I ordered a Traveler's Club. It came with fries, a thinly sliced apple, and some watermelon. It was awesome and toasted to perfection. I was also rather entertained at the fact that they were playing a lot of older songs. I had to stop myself from singing along to "I shot the sheriff" since the place was rather full.
After I finished eating I went down to the reception desk to give a small bag of laundry to get done. I didn't have too much stuff and I could have waited but I really didn't want to wear a bunch of dirty shirts this week. It was nice and cheap since my bag was so light. It only cost 7 kuai. I also checked out the metro map at the tourist desk. They don't have any paper copies of it here so I took a picture of the map so I can use it as reference while I'm on the road. As I actually looked at the stops the city's layout was coming back to me. It was finally starting to look different from the mental map of Shanghai that I previously had in my mind (I knew that metro pretty well when I left). After I was familiar with the stops I was on my way out the door.
As the title suggests I went back to the Lama Temple. It was quiet and empty. Which was really eerie since last time I was there it was jam packed with people. It was also a holiday last time I was there. I easily found my way to the temple and as I entered a couple of monks were also going into the temple. They saw me and smiled politely before wishing me luck in English. I thanked them in Mandarin which made them laugh before they asked me how I doing in English. I said I was doing good and asked them the same question and that was the extent of their English. They tried to talk to me in Mandarin but I'd already used everything I knew in turn so we smiled and said goodbye. I did ask if I could take their picture but they politely refused which I respect. I generally hate being in pictures as well so I didn't push it and instead I went on to look at the temple (with some nice sunny weather). The temple was under a lot of construction this time, workers were redoing some of the tiles on the sides while rebuilding steps in various spots. It was nice to see that it wasn't mostly abandoned. I also had to remind myself that I couldn't take pictures inside like I could in Shanghai.
As I left the temple I noticed an awesome souvenir that I know my brother would love so I haggled my way to a good price and left quite happy. I assumed that it would fit in my foldable bag to carry home but it didn't so instead I went out in search of a suitcase. I got a decent cheap suitcase and it cost me less than mailing something back home would. This way I can also give it right away and distribute weight from my backpack to my other bag. I'm pretty satisfied with it. I packed the special gift securely in the suitcase before I went out to find my way towards the Forbidden city. I'd like to know the route in advance so that it's easier to get to in the morning. I might not have to use a map tomorrow. I also plan on hopefully getting out towards the Silk Market tomorrow at some point too for the game of Go. If I don't get a chance to go out there I'm not going to be overly upset.
I've accepted the fact that I probably can't access blogspot while I'm in China. I've been wanting to show people a bunch of images so I've uploaded some of them to Photobucket instead. The following link should take you directly to the front of the album with the images. http://s493.photobucket.com/albums/rr297/Vamaena/
As usual the pictures with the black framing and numbers on the top were taken with my 50D and I basically just took a quick picture with my point and shoot to show them off. I'll try to upload images regularly for the next few days while I'm still here.