The Temple of Heaven is a complex of various prayer halls, but the most famous it the round one behind us. The emperor would come here to pray for the crops and good harvests. The number 3 was very significant to them so you'll see it everywhere in the architecture. If I remember correctly the first tier of steps signifies the earth, the second is people, and the third is heaven.
While we were walking from this hall to the Circular Mound Altar we ran into a lady peddler selling scarfs for very cheap. Crystal and I are both suckers for scarfs, so I got one and she got two Crystal paid her with a 100RMB note. She slipped it into her stack of bills (thinking she was sly) and then pulled out another slightly torn note and said "Oh, this one too old, give me new one." But Crystal was quick and had noticed her slight of hand, and that the note she was presenting was a fake. Crystal said no way and told her to deal with it. You've got to admit, it was a pretty sly trick. Most foreigners wouldn't notice the difference and wouldn't have any issues trading her for a "newer" note. Then the lady would have made twice as much money off of them. But she couldn't fool my genius cousin!
So here is the Circular Mound Altar, again repeating the 3 motif. Also, the rings of stones that surround the altar increase by the power of 9 (Ben loved this stuff, so did I actually). For instance, the first ring of stones around the central altar stone had nine stones, the next had 18, the next had 27, etc. The emperor would stand on the central stone and become the direct connection to heaven and pray for good weather and rain for the crops.
And now tourists stand here and take photos. Including us.
After we were done here we took the subway down to Tian'anmen Square, hoping to look around, but it was pretty dark and we were starved. So we found a nice little restaurant with the most unhelpful staff (that was not a requirement, but customer service is very very low on the totem pole for the Chinese), and had the famous Peking duck. It was very tasty, but I sure did miss the timeliness of most Japanese and American restaurants. It took quite a while to get our meal, and with a squirrely, hungry, and tired baby...well, you get the picture.