Year 2004. The Ritan Park is located in Jianguomen east area of Beijing, just outside the 2nd ring road. The Ritan Park is a small copy of the Temple of Heaven used to hold worship ceremonies to the God of Sun for good harvesting. When the Emperor(s) was not feeling well he would instead hold those ceremonies at the Temple of the Sun, today’s Ritan Park, which was located just besides the former Forbidden City east side original walls and thus very convenient for short travelling compared to the Temple of Heaven located in south of the city. These round walls are the precinct of the Altar of offerings and ritual sacrifices that marked the worship ceremonies for good harvest.
In my first professional assignment in Beijing during 2004/2005, I was living in a compound on the north side of Ritan Park and spent there some hours running and exercising early on Sundays which was the only day off I had. During Christmas 2013, more exactly on the 21st December, I had just quit smoking and exercising was one way of exorcising that evil away. And I succeeded by the way. At that time foreigners had to pay 2 Yuan entrance fee but the ticket’s office staff started to recognise my intentions and let me in free. The Ritan Park was very much destroyed and quite abandoned before the Red Army and Mao entered the city to make the declaration of the PRC in 1949. But in 1951 a major work entitled this park as community place and became famous for Beijing’s seniors morning Tai Chi exercise and also Little Red Book loud readings for brainwashing. Today, anyone walking inside in the early hours of the day will see groups exercising and exercising by dancing everywhere and it is quite contagious… the entrance is now free to anyone.