Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ri Tan Park - Beijing

One of my favorite things about the location of our apartment is that it is a block away from this beautiful place. I was annoyed, at first, to hear that dogs are not allowed nor are kids with skateboards. However, this is by far my favorite place to be here, so far, so I fully respect the reasons why those things are not allowed.
This is what wikipedia says about it.
"The Temple of the Sun (Chinese: 日壇; pinyin: Rìtán) is located in Chaoyang District, Beijing, China. It is within Ritan Park (日壇公园), in the Jianguomen area.
On the opposite side of Beijing, to the west, is the Temple of the Moon, located in Fuchengmen. During the 2008 Summer Olympics, it was selected as one of the three protest zones

The temple's altar was built in 1530 during the late Ming Dynasty for use in ritual sacrifice to the sun by the Emperor of China. The area surrounding the Ritan temple is now a public park, and the site features extensive gardens and a small lake."

I come here almost every morning to run. Each time I feel so lucky that I have such a beautiful place within arms reach.
One of the perspectives that has changed about me so far is my view of the lotus flower. I never really thought too much about it, but really only felt it was a kind of cliche Chinese custom or symbol. Now that I have seen this lotus pond in bloom I feel quite different. The blooms are just breath taking.
In Buddhism the lotus flower represents the Buddha. In mainstream Chinese the lotus flower has come to represent a high level of moral cultivation of a person, for the lotus arises from dirty mud but remains unsoiled by it. The lotus flower stands for purity and beauty.

I am always there between 7-8am, as I go straight from the kids bus stop. This park is booming! I run the outer perimeter path with about a hundred other walkers and runners. Many people come before their daily activities to exercise. Most do not wear, what we call, exercise clothes. I've seen people jogging or speed walking in everything! I even saw a girl jogging this morning in a mini skirt and heels, ouch! The funniest thing is when people smoke while exercising!
Walking and jogging is, by far, not the only activity in the park. Above you can see an area of the park that has some common metal work out equipment. This type of equipment is found in almost all parks. Scattered throughout the park are makeshift badminton courts set up. These players take it very seriously. There is also a rock climbing wall. There are many little nooks and crannies all over the park and in them you will see all types of exercise happening like martial arts, men doing pull ups from tree branches, women exercising their lungs by grunt chants, ball room dancing, and Chinese style line dancing (nothing western about it) etc.

And, of course, there are Tai Chi classes. Today I saw a very fit and muscular martial arts master training a few others. I had to chuckle since this burly man was wearing Joe Boxer pajama pants that had cutesy gingerbread men all over them. Almost every day I see something like that where I just have to smile.

In the center of the park, facing every direction, there are staircases. They all lead to a pagoda. From that spot you look over the treetops to the city skyline. When you are in the park you forget you are in a bustling capital city, up there you are quickly reminded. But it is a peaceful spot so I have begun to read my scriptures after my run. Having an iphone is great for situations like going from a running training app with music to reading scriptures, all the while taking pictures as you go.
I hope you enjoyed my version of Ri Tan park!

4 comments:

Carissa said...

Jen,

I'm so happy that you're blogging again. I love hearing about all your adventures in China. I wish I could come running with you in the park.

When I was in Russia I went running in the park near my apartment. At the time, people in Russia didn't jog, they just walked the path sedately. They also brought their dogs who were never on leashes and the dogs would chase after me while I ran.

I miss you tons. I hope everything is going well and you're feeling more settled all the time. Much love, Carissa

Michelle said...

Yeah! So glad you found a way to blog although your emails have been wonderful. It's so great to hear your "voice" come shining through, You have such a gift for words. Glad you are finding some bright spots to bring a smile to your face. Miss you, Michelle

Shauna said...

Hi Jen!
I'm really enjoying your blog, emails, AND Facebook! I'm so happy the kids are settling in so well and that Jupiter gets to come home soon!! Thanks so much for sharing your adventures!
hugs, Shauna

R & R said...

Love the park. There is something about nature that is so soothing and uplifting. It is great to hear your descriptions of all the people too - makes me smile!