These past few days it occurred to me that I never actually filled you in on my recent trip to Beijing. I did post some photos on my private Facebook but otherwise I kept kind of quiet about it...keeping quiet does not a good blogger make!
I went to Beijing for three reasons:
1) apply for a new passport
2) celebrate my birthday
3) see 王力宏 Wang Leehom on concert at the Bird's Nest 鸟巢
Let's skip the official bits and talk about my birthday first. I decided to spend the morning and some of the afternoon at Beihai Park. I wanted a little bit of peace and quiet, water and greenery and Beihai ticked all the boxes. Two years ago, when I visited Beijing for the first time, my Chinese teacher's husband dutifully played tourguide when his wife was indisposed and took me to the park for a leisurely stroll. I fell in love with the place a couple of minutes into our stroll so I decided to go back for more this time.
I spent a lovely afternoon in the park and am particularly proud that I managed to get to the park without getting lost. I did verify the subway stop (Line 6, Beihai North, 北海北) with the handsome fella at the reception but that's about it. It costs about 20 yuan to enter the park but I gladly paid that. The place is always clean and because it's so big it doesn't really feel crowded. Plus, if you feel hungry, the Hutongs and Nanluoguxiang (南锣鼓巷) are nearby so you can just stroll into that direction and find yourself something delicious to snack on. There are some amazing restaurants hidden way in the back alleys, a friend of mine and his girlfriend arranged a trip to a few to try some less touristy stuff.
I didn't even bother bringing my camera to the park. She and I have a major disagreement when it comes to taking pictures, we're just not on the same terms when it comes to focus (she believes it's not necessary while it's a must for me) and picture quality (again I value it, she does not). All pictures were taken with my iPhone which got all hot and bothered in the sun.
Let me show you the place, it's truly wonderful!
I love the colourful paintings that adorn many of the buildings, gates and houses and I love the paintings on the ceiling, the art. I find it hard to pick favourites so here's an overload of Chinese architecture.
My favourite Chinese character: 福
I love the vibrant blue, golden yellow, deep-sea green/turquoise, the careful paintings and how it all looks like it was painted only yesterday. I especially love the gates with their eleborate decorations and how some of them are surrounded by trees, making for a perfect contrast.
But my photo book wouldn't be complete with a few selfies... I thought going to the park on my own on my birthday of all days would make me feel lonely but it didn't. Well I did feel a little lonely but I also had a lot of fun. It wasn't too hot (although I did manage to get a mild sunburn) and every so often there was a refreshing and cooling breeze. Buying water inside the park is more expensive but I can live with spending 4 Yuan on water...still let's not make it a habit. In Wuhan 4 Yuan will buy you a hearty breakfast to keep you full for half a day.
I think if I was based in Beijing I'd probably grab every opportunity to head to the park for a relaxing stroll. There is so much to see and so much going on, yet you can always seem to find a quiet undisturbed corner where you can hide away for a while and be alone with the world.
If you've never been, I suggest you take yourself to the park but pronto.
I did for a while think about heading to Tiananmen but once is enough. Been there done that... Plus the Forbidden City isn't all that special, sorry China. I'll take the Summer Palace any time though.
I have a thing for Chinese parks and lakes.
More about my little Beijing adventure in my next post so stay tuned.