white bridge wanderings

January 24th, 2008

So Matt, who is stopping in Beijing for a few days on his way back to Kunming, came over this way and we got lunch then we headed out looking for a temple that has always intrigued me.

I used to go through the Guangqumen area quite often. I used to prefer going up there to pay my phone bill at the phone office there. Slightly nutty, I know, considering it meant ten times the travel, but it meant I could be in and out of the phone office in only two or three minutes instead of having to wait an hour or two at the bank to perform that simple, two minute transaction. But somehow I remember my dalliances with Guangqumen going back much earlier than that, and I can’t think why. Anyway, all that wandering through the area made me aware that there was, perhaps, a temple just north of there. Somehow I remember signs saying 白庙, but as I discovered yesterday, they actually say 白桥. Nevermind, they pointed in the direction I wanted to go….

Anyway, what got me really intrigued was actually seeing that temple from the train as we went past on the way to or from Tianjin. But somehow, even though I escaped Tianjin a year and a half ago, I never got around to seeing it from the ground-level until yesterday afternoon.

So Matt came around and we got lunch and a couple of koubei to warm us up, then we headed back out into that howling, biting Gobi wind, and jumped on the next 34 bus to come along. Fortunately there are many 34s, so we didn’t have to wait too long. We got off at Guangming Lou and wandered northwards through the lanes that probably were hutongs 15 years ago, across Guangqumen Nei Dajie and up into Baiqiao. I spotted the temple behind a wall, and asked the guy at the gate we were standing next to how to get there. He said go back the way you come, the lane you just walked past will get you there. So we went, and found the front gate of the temple, and…

…it was closed.

Locked, very firmly closed.

Oh well, Matt got to see a slice of ordinary, regular Beijing that he hasn’t seen too much of before. I now know the way to that temple. Maybe at some later date it will be open.

But I didn’t pay attention to the name of the temple and I can’t find it on either my map, Google, or Baidu. And now my camera’s batteries are out of power (again) and so I can’t turn my camera on to see if I got enough of the cultural relic plaque in any photo to see what the name of the place was.

Oh well, having wasted our time, we retreated to a nearby cafe for warmth.

Anyway,  once my batteries are recharged I’ll have a look at the photos I took and see if can get the name of the temple. And of course, if anybody knows anything about this temple, leave a comment. Otherwise, I might have to wander past again. There are other things nearby I want to have a closer look at, too. I’m just hoping this clear weather holds.

But frigid wind or no frigid wind, it was good to get out and get some fresh air and exercise. Good company helped of course, even if I did end up leading Matt on a wild goose chase (sorry ’bout that). I would also like to get out again this afternoon- I want to make good use of this weather before the place smogs up again.

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