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A girl looks at a mural describing the worship of the sun.

“Temple of the Sun”, a haven for peace seekers, exercise spot for health lovers in Beijing 

Beijing, China: Surrounded by vertical forests of concrete buildings in the Jianguomen area of Chaoyang district, Beijing, one of the city’s well-known parks is Ritan Public Park, which was initially home to the Temple of the Sun and built around 1530 during the late Ming dynasty.

The park has a well-paved footpath for both runners and walkers. Visitors walk up to a viewpoint at the highest spot in the park.

Covering an area of 19.8 hectares, the park opened the public in the late 1950s. It is now one of the most popular tourist spots in Beijing and visitors flock here to enjoy the sports facilities on offer and a stroll along the well-maintained footpaths.
Several structures have been built in the traditional Chinese style and the park is a great place for people from all walks of life to spend time in and perhaps make use of the exercise equipment designed for old and young alike.
Benches have been placed along the footpaths or beneath trees, where people can sit and chat.
Visitors like to take photos of the attractively-built traditional Chinese houses and pavilions on the lakeside, where blossoming lotuses glint in the glow of the setting sun.
Some practitioners of kungfu, a traditional martial art form, and yoga, clearly find this the perfect place to while away a few hours, benefitting both physically and spiritually as they gently move and stretch their bodies in various poses.
The compound is nicely designed and built, and contains pavilions, a lake, and gardens. The popular landmark is named as one of the five temples in Beijing, with the others being the Temple of the Moon, Temple of Heaven, Temple of the Earth and the Temple of Agriculture.
Every temple has its own features, detailing the historical and religious connections between long dead ancestors and people of the present generation.
It took me about 15 minutes to get to the park on foot. I spent half an hour there looking around and observing people enjoying leisure activities, after which I rode a bicycle back to where I was staying, which took about 10 minutes.
Beijing is a huge metropolis that is home to millions of people. But it is perfectly designed under the capital’s urban development plan and has lots of offices, residential buildings and high-end shopping malls in the downtown area. It also boasts a number of green parks, pedestrianised streets, and food avenues.
Most impressively, the public transport system is excellently served with only one mobile application – Alipay, which enables people to take a public bus, subway, taxi or bicycle, or even those electric bikes parked along the roadsides.  
This mean that tourists have plenty of choices when it comes to public transport if they want to make a couple of tours to tourist attractions in the city centre.
The transport system, especially the linking subway with different lines, is the most convenient way for people to travel from one landmark to another, because subway stations are always close by.
The name of each station is written in both Chinese and English to ensure thar foreigners arrive at their destination without any problems.
In general, the cost of public transport, especially the subway lines in downtown Beijing, is cheap, so almost everyone uses the subway for travel and to get to work.  
Meanwhile, travellers with limited knowledge of Chinese can use an online platform to book a taxi, but must make sure they have sufficient credit because taxi drivers do not accept cash.
China has a long history and is a huge country, with awe inspiring socio-economic development, technological advancements, and modern urban development.
Despite the fascination of all the modern technology in use, there are plenty of other interesting and exciting things to observe, such as historical sites, the way of life, and the general development landscape of China.
Bounfaeng Phaymanivong, a journalist with Lao Press in Foreign Languages (Vientiane Times), is taking part in the four-month China Asia Pacific Press Centre 2023 Programme as one of more than 80 media personnel from almost 70 countries. The programme has been set up by the China Public Diplomacy Association under the framework of the China International Press Communication Centre.

A traditional Chinese pavilion by the side of the lake.

By Bounfaeng Phaymanivong
(Latest Update August 25, 2023)

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