Day One in China: Tiananmen Square and The Heavenly Temple

Because my hospital presentations don’t start until today (Tuesday), I was able to do some sightseeing yesterday.

First stop was Tiananmen Square, where highlight included:

Sentries who stand motionless for several hours at a time:

SentryChairman Mao’s Mausoleum (which wasn’t open on Monday)…

Chairman Mao Mausoleum

…and beautiful flowers (see this tweet for a panoramic view):

Lee by Beautiful Flowers

Then we went across the street, where I posed for a picture with Chairman Mao.


The view from above Mao’s photo was spectacular:

Tian an men Square

After this we went for lunch, where I had the universal beverage:

Universal Beverage

Because the Forbidden City also was closed on Monday, we instead went to The Heavenly Temple. Here are a few more pictures that show the intricacy and elegance of the buildings:

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
Imperial Hall of Heaven
Imperial Hall of Heaven
Heavenly Centre Stone
Heavenly Centre Stone

The Heavenly Centre Stone is interesting in that it is surrounded by a ring of nine stones, which is surrounded by a rings of 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72 and 81 stones. Then you take nine steps down to the next level, and the pattern continues.

Finally, I ended the day with my first Hot Pot experience, which I tweeted this morning:

Arriving in Beijing

I’m up early (5 a.m.) Monday morning and looking forward to a day of sightseeing in Beijing before our tour of visiting and speaking to Chinese hospitals starts tomorrow.

This is my first trip to China, and it already has led to several other “firsts” in my experience.

While I have previously been met at the airport by someone with a sign with my name on it to make connections with a driver, those signs have always been either handwritten or on an iPad display. This typeset and framed version was definitely a step up (click any photos for larger view):

Charlie and Wenfeng

My greeters, who also will be my guides today and for the rest of the trip, also presented me with an unprecedented arrival gift:

Sign and Flowers

I don’t think anyone has given me flowers before…much less upon arriving at an airport.

After about a one-hour drive to our hotel, which will be our base for the next four nights as well, the three of us had dinner during which I got expert chopsticks advice from Wenfeng.

Then we went out for an evening walk to the Olympic Park. We saw the Aquatics Center where Michael Phelps won his record 8 gold medals:

Acquatic CenterThe exterior changes colors every few seconds, which is beautiful and amazing…until you see the olympic stadium, a.k.a. The Bird’s Nest:

Bird's Nest

The entire end of the stadium is a massive LED display. And while I’m no stranger to having my image on a Jumbotron, this one makes Times Square look like a microtron.

This enabled me to provide the ultimate example of a backlit photo, which Charlie’s smart phone light was powerless to correct:

Ultimate Backlighting

Finally, we took a walk to the base of an observation tower which, when viewed from above, is in the shape of the Olympic rings. Hopefully we can get a view from the top (about 40 stories up) today:

Olympic Observation Tower

Looking forward to exploring with Charlie and Wenfeng today!