It was a very hot day and quite a trek to get to the Lama Temple. Instead of going into the Temple right away, we decided to cool ourselves down from the heat and have a couple of beers in a nicely shaded Hutong only a few steps away from the Temple entrance. Yanjing beer was sold everywhere, so it was the popular and cheap choice. All the people at the small shop insisted that we sit down to enjoy our drinks; they even gave up their seats for us. Brenda made small talk and Mike made funny faces at the children, which we learned were the grandchildren. I sat in bliss as I took in everything around me. Children were walking home from school, people on bikes were zipping by, and we were admiring a stylishly dressed older Chinese gentleman every time he strolled by us. I could have stayed there the entire day and wandered through the Hutongs.
The smell of incense was powerful as we entered the temple. People burning incense to mediate, worship or pray. Mike and I explored the grounds of this marvelous Tibetan Buddhist temple which is considered to be one of the largest and most significant in the world. We walked through each of the halls and observed the buddha statues, until we finally approached the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Happinesses. There stood the tallest Maitreya Buddha (85ft high), which had been carved out of a single piece of White Sandalwood. It is definitely an impressive site to see. The room was not even big enough to stand back to get the whole view. I saw Mike on the other side of the room… lying on the ground to get the perfect photo of the entire Buddha. Gladly, I was not standing next to him, because I was quite embarrassed! A monk approached him, smiled and blocked his view by waving his arms.
Several short blocks from the Lama Temple was a great little hutong dumpling shop. It was very small, had all sorts of knickknacks and was empty. Bvarious Dumplings is located near the Beixinqiao northeast station exit. Brenda had been there before with Chris and insisted that we try the dumplings as well. We were lucky that Brenda could converse with most of the servers when we ate out. I think Mike and I would have struggled a lot if that was something we had to do on our own. It was helpful when the menus had lots of pictures, because we could just point to what looked good. We had a variety of lamb and pork dumplings which were made fresh. I am sure that there are other dumpling shops around Beijing, but add this to your cheap-eats list. It’s so delicious!
Bvarious Dumplings, Beijing
We walked on Guozijian street to the Temple of Confucius and then to the Imperial Academy. It was not crowded near closing. It was very peaceful leisurely walking around.
I was lucky to use Chris’ DSLR for the photos at the Imperial Academy (below). Mike used it for the majority of our trip.
Imperial Academy (Guozijian)
As it got dark we made our way along South Luogu Alley. This is one of the oldest alleyways in Beijing, and is now filled with hostels, cafés, bars, and shops. We browsed through stores and picked up a few gifts for family members. Our friends from the Great Wall hiking trip met with us to grab a few drinks. Brenda knew of the perfect place to have quality beer, Great Leap Brewing. This was definitely an ex-pat bar.
It was fantastic seeing our new friends one last time before they went home. I enjoyed the Silver Needle White Ale, while Mike’s favorites were the Little General IPA and Iron Buddha Blonde. We would’ve stayed there all evening, and we nearly did! The three of us ran to catch the last subway train, but we knew we would not make it. Instead we hopped in the back of a two-person bike taxi, which turned out to be a fun way to catch our train.