Retracing Steps

Nicholas Quirke was retracing his steps on 8 December 2020 and visiting another temple which had proved to be a ‘no go’ area when he had first begun to explore the vicinity he was in when liberated from his quarantine in March. The temple was closed due to Covid19 and now like most places of worship it was business as usual. It seemed in this temple that business was the operative word, as on the sub-zero temperature, sunny morning a collective of people were trading in the ultimate hall. The Baoguo Temple with its long history; originally built in the Liao Dynasty 996 though largely destroyed and rebuilt in Ming Dynasty, was now seemingly used as a shop. It was an odd combination of prayer beads and antique, religious and secular ephemera including a picture of Mao and other relics of the People’s republic of China which he coveted for his ‘shelf of shame’. It was an interesting but short investigation of the premises as other than the main hall all the other buildings were shut. He was pleased though to have finally been able to venture inside the fane and had enjoyed the stir his presence had caused in the trading space. Once lunch was out of the way Peng, who had never eaten at the Cheesecake Factory, wanted to visit the restaurant and enjoy tea and one of their extraordinary confections. It was extremely cold still and they took the subway to Chongwenmen station and cycled the rest of the way. On the subway they spotted that The Beijing People’s Theatre was advertising a new show and a quick look Peng saw that there were amazingly some seats still available. They tried to book but the website did not accept ‘Passports’. As it was relatively close Peng ‘locked’ the seat for 14 minutes and they made a mad 2,5 km dash to the theatre. It transpired he could have booked using his ID card making their onerous ride pointless. But finally he had a seat and would get to experience the historical theatrical venture that was based on the Moscow arts theatre. They walked to the Wangfujing Central mall in which the restaurant was located and were given a seat by the window. There was absolutely nothing other than a bowl of strawberries for 68 yuan, nearly 7 GBP, that he could eat, so he made do with a tea while Peng feasted on cake. The mall had a bakery which they visited as they left and surprisingly they sold loaves that were Vegan. Nicholas bought a loaf of walnut and hazelnut bread which, he could honestly say at £5.00 was the most expensive bread he had ever bought. Night had fallen by the time they left making the air even more chilly and was a relief to get home and and enjoy the heat. Nicholas had struggled with the internet in the store and it seemed to be no better once they were home. He was frustrated by this and felt quite sulky about not being able to post his blog. They watched an Israeli film ‘Sublet’, which managed to draw him out of his brooding and by the time the film was over he had managed to get the technological problems resolved. As always it was good not to go to sleep moping about any irritations the day might have held.

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