Dinner time is a perfect excuse to go out of campus and try new dishes around the area, so we went to eat hot pot. Our local friend, Wang Gang, took us to 北京阳坊大都羊肉 Beijing Yangfang Dadu Yangrou restaurant in Wudaoko. It was the first time I had hot pot and I loved it. This Chinese dish has a history of more than 1,000 years. It was originated in the north of China where people have to fend off the cold weather, and it used to be favored in winter. Now it is eaten throughout all seasons and it is part of the traditional Chinese dishes. The pot is divided in two sides, one is (really) spicy the other one is not.
On a beautiful, sunny, blue sky day we visited Tiāntán, the Temple of Heaven. The temple is a prime example of Chinese religious architecture, this is where Emperors of the Qing and Ming dynasties performed annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. The Construction began in the early 15th century under Yongle, who is known as the “architect of Beijing.” Shaped like a semicircle on the northern rim to represent heaven and square on the south for the earth, the grounds were once believed to be the meeting point of the two. So many Chinese believed for so long that this was the center of the world.
Stepping out of Beijing for the first time to visit Harbin was the best decision ever! A couple of Tsinghua friends and I visited the annual Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival which has been held since 1963. It was interrupted for couple of years due to the Cultural Revolution but resumed in 1985. Harbin is located in the Northeast China and is influenced by the cold weather from Siberia. The festival starts in January and lasts for one month, luckily we were able to visit before the end and the weather was bearable (-10 C). The ice is taken from the surface of the Songhua River, then carved by chisels, ice picks and different types of saws to form the sculptures.