Moon Worship

Nicholas Quirke was treading the paths of the Ming dynasty’s Emperor Jiajing on 16 April 2020, who honoured heaven, hell, the sun, the moon and Earth at temples he built across Beijing. Though of course, that was not how his day started which found him once again battling with the vagaries of technology, which once again was talking to him in plain English riddles. Downloading, uploading photographs was once again taking an eternity and he had been waiting 12 hours before they finally appeared and he could use them. His time was well spent though with more housework and food preparation. He particularly enjoyed creating two alternative marinades for the Tofu and Tempeh that would form the basis for lunch the next day. Once he had managed to master and circumnavigate the idiosyncrasies of the ‘;Cloud’ he climbed onto a bike to continue his exploration of ‘Beijing by Bicycle’. The park he was going to was relatively local and like many of the historical sites in the city not much remained of the temple. It was here that the Emperor would honour the moon with a ritual sacrifice At the autumn Equinox, a custom that fortunately passed out of favour, though it was sad that nothing but a part of the wall was now visible. It was also, another example of how the Invaders of China, in this case the Japanese during their puppet regime, had no respect for the ancient and historical aspects of Chinas landscapes. Ancient trees were destroyed and the buildings used as barracks, classrooms till it was reconstructed in 2004 as a park. He was delighted, after his poor impression of the attitude of Chinese to foreigners in the Tea district to encounter a group of pensioners, engaged in writing characters in water on the pavement with long tapered brushes, which is apparently a pastime for the old in China. With sparkling eyes and sense of joy they managed to communicate with him and wanted to know where he was from. He smugly was able to say in Mandarin that he was Yingouren, English and the old lady wrote it in a Character on the pavement . They then gave him the brush to write it himself. His attempt was easy to spot but despite his poor attempt it felt like a moment of unity and like all little moments of joy, one he would cherish. The gardens were laid out beautifully and some really graceful and intricate buildings around the ‘pond of Moonshine’ caught his attention as well as the original standing wall and West gate, which after all the finery of the Temples and buildings he had seen, captured the imagination as a more derelict relic of the past. It was imperative now, that he seeks out the temples of the Sun, and the largest of the complex, The temple of heaven, which he had visited in 2018 and he had stayed close in January but was closed. The parks were populated with locals and he had not on his travels seen any western faces, but that was most likely due to the fact that the majority of ExPats still in Beijing were not travelling but living and working here and site seeing was either not on the agenda or the were sticking to their own locale and the fashionable shopping malls. It did not bother him that he was not seeing or mixing with Westerners though he was concerned that his worth might pall with Peng if he had the continual burden of Entertaining the guest that would not leave. He contacted his sister to help him with an idea he had which required her administration skills as well as asking her to send a tube of Kingfisher Fennel Natural Toothpaste, which was about the only desired commodity he could not obtain in China. He did some laundry which completed the menial cleaning tasks for the day and thus turned the antisepsis of his surrounding onto himself with a shower, a shave and a self manicure before slumber


  1. Yingouren….that made me smile, must have felt good after being treated so badly the other day xx

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