With only a couple more sights to see on my Beijing bucket list I took the morning to explore the Olympic Sports Centre, home to the summer 2008 Olympics and, of course, the iconic Birds Nest stadium. The surrounding area was absolutely massive complete with eerily deserted miles of roads. It was a good walk from the entrance to the birds nest, they even offered a shuttle service on little electric trains.
The centre included the Water Cube and National Indoor Stadium as well as plenty of open spaces, seating, statues etc. but of course the definitive feature was the Birds Nest stadium. Its’ design and size were equally as striking, a very impressive structure. I paid the rather overpriced entrance fee and went inside. I walked all the way up to the top seats which surprisingly had a very good view of the track and took a few pictures. I imagine the atmosphere during the Olympics and more recent 2015 athletics championship must have been amazing here.
In the afternoon I ventured to the Temple of Heaven to tick off my last intended destination. This, unlike many other temples/palaces didn’t actually have a great deal to see and was now more of a large park with over a hundred acres of trees that locals sat beneath playing cards, practicing tai chi or playing a game of keepy-upy with a beanbag.
The main attraction was the temple previously used to pray for good harvests, of course as impressive as I’ve come to expect from Chinese temples and palaces now. There was a newly wed couple having a wedding photo shoot outside the temple, a beautiful backdrop for photos. I really wanted to take a photo but didn’t want to seem rude. It wasn’t until yet another Chinese tourist asked me for a photo (got to be at least 20 or so now) that I thought I may as well ask! Of course they said yes, and the photographer proceeded to tell me how much he loved London in very broken English whilst I took the most gorgeous photo of them looking at the temple.
The evening was spent having a humongous meal with some people from the hostel, a couple of whom have been travelling for nearly three years! I love how meals in China are such a social event, with loads of different dishes and rice all being shared, means I’ve got to try so many different things already and has all been so good!