After having walked though the entirety of Forbidden City and up Jingshan (that we started to call ‘debris pile’ as it is all the dirt from when the moat surrounding the city was digged up) we just kept on walking … towards the Bell and Drum Towers that are on a symmetrical axis with Tian’anmen and Forbidden City.
Unfortunately we unknowingly picked the only day were both towers were closed for maintenance. So we kept on walking through the hutongs towards the Lama Temple. Hutongs are basically the traditional housing in Beijing. A lot of them got bulldozed down the last years in order to give space to new modern buildings and skyscrapers. Beijing is booming and is in ever-need for more and higher buildings. So an important part of the old Beijing, traditional one storey houses, where Beijingers lived for many centuries, are demolished. But on the other hand new buildings with attached sewage and electricity are built. Walking through the narrow and quiet lanes of the hutongs gave us the sensation of a different world. Finally we got to the most important Buddhist temple of Beijing: Yonghegong 雍和宫. As soon as we stepped through the entrance gate all the noise of the city was dimmed and far away. Even though nowadays the temple gets to see more tourists then monks, the whole atmosphere was very peaceful and calm. People were actually praying, worshipping and burning incense. A gem of a place in that time seems to stand still.