Friday, December 4, 2015

Loitering in the Lama Temple

It seems I have entered my second period of 'honeymoon weeks' in Beijing. When I arrived here over five years ago, I was fascinated by China, and I was interested in everything Beijing had to offer. Now that I am leaving, my mind is opening up to again absorb the city's mighty sights with new enthusiasm, as I am hoping to commit it all to memory for a long time.

Two days ago, with the skies blue again and a cold (or rather, deep freeze) in the air, a friend and I ventured out the Yonghe Lamasery, better known as the Beijing Lama Temple. As an active Buddhist temple, it is an amazing place to visit. The inside courtyards, in spring and summer, have lots of green; monks always putter about, and non-stop people come in to pray.

Lots of red and good fortune signs in the shops around the temple.

One of many smaller buildings you step through as you go through the temple complex. Inside are always different statues of the Buddha or other presumably helpful entities.

On days like this, you honestly forget pollution ever exists. Blue skies and red buildings; it doesn't get much better than this.

Pass me that ball, lion!

Trying a new panorama setting ;)

The giant Buddha in the last building of the temple is apparently in the Guinness Book of Records. (So Europe, where are your giant Maria statues?)

This is the study hall. The red cloths are some kind of blanket/coat that must come in handy when you are studying and chanting for a couple of hours in the Beijing sub-zero temperatures.  

Even Beatrix was here! See if you spot her in the picture. 

In het Nederlands: Deze week ben ik even teruggegaan naar de lama tempel. Ik ben daar vaak geweest tijdens onze tijd in Beijing, en het is altijd een feest er te zijn. Je kan er een half uurtje zijn of twee uur ronddobberen. Heel groot is het niet, maar wel heel mooi. Omdat het nog een actieve tempel is met echte moniken is er altijd veel activiteit. Zelfs Beatrix heeft ooit de tempel met een bezoekje geeerd! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ode to the Wind

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

                              From "Ode to the West Wind"
                              by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792 - 1822

O wild North Wind, thou breath of sweeping clean
Thou, from whose unseen presence the pollution particles
Are driven, like ghosts, in the morning to not be seen

                              Ode to the Wind, Beijing 2015

This is what pollution looked like for the last three days.

On Tuesday, pollution is literally off the charts again. We didn't see the sun that day. Just a grey and later eerie brown-yellow sky.

Everyone stays inside. Our village becomes a ghost town. In the evening, Thomas' soccer team even discusses canceling its indoor training because of the high pollution levels in the gym. (Outdoor trainings are automatically cancelled with these pollution levels).

And then, in the night, came the magic North Wind! This photo is from this morning: We have a sunrise! Seeing a bit of red in the distance is always the best sign for a new day in Beijing.
Thank you, O Thou North Wind!

In het Nederlands: In plaats van over het weer en de regen gaat de conversatie in Beijing vaak over de vervuiling. Is het vervuild? Hoeveel? Gaat het snel waaien of regenen? De vervuiling komt natuurlijk door alle emissies (van fabrieken, auto's, steenkoolcentrales, en ook alle kleine kacheltjes in de winter), maar heeft ook veel te maken met de weerspatronen. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

China the Beautiful - Winter Wonderland at Jinshanling Great Wall

I have officially entered my last few weeks in China!* I can honestly say I love this country. China gets a lot of bad press most of the time--and yes, pollution and human rights are not issues one can step over easily--but it must be said that this place and its people are more than wonderful and I have enjoyed every day that I was here.

For one, China is just beautiful. Gorgeous, jaw-dropping beautiful. Despite the fact that about a sixth of the world population lives here, you can still find places out in nature where you can be all alone. Such as during this hike last week at Jinshanling Great Wall.

Notice the man hard at work to clear a trail in the below-zero temperatures.

Modern day and ancient time warriors.


Once in a while a bit of color is a feast to the eye!

In het Nederlands: Een mooie wandeling bij de Chinese Muur van Jinshanling. De Chinese Muur bestaat uit eigenlijk uit heel veel stukken. Dit is een stukje natuurlijk dicht bij Beijing en nog niet zo touristisch.

* We are soon moving to Brasilia, Brazil.