Trip Start Feb 27, 2013
44Trip End Ongoing
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HOU HAI/ BEI HAI
We had a day off on a Wednesday to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival. Excited to celebrate a real Chinese festival in China, me and some friends planned to go to Hou Hai hutong, where we had seen on the internet that they had some festivities planned. When we arrived, the place was very busy due to the public holiday, but there were no special activities or anything to demonstrate that it was the Dragon Boat Festival. We stayed in Hou Hai for lunch, and we walked around it for a while, because it is a beautiful little village anyway
It wasn’t a waste of a day, though, as it was still really enjoyable to stroll through the parks and see how the people here spend their days off. I don’t think it’s very common back home to spend the weekend or days off in the park, but as I have mentioned before, living in Beijing with minimal nature and in small apartments, most people here like the space and comfort of a park. The parks here are all stunning, and very well groomed, so it is very relaxing to come here and walk around. The parks are also huge, and it amazes me how many of these gigantic parks they have here in Beijing in amongst the city. It just proves how big Beijing really is. There was a man there drawing pictures of women using a huge paint brush dipped in water, which gathered a crowd. He drew very well, it is a shame that the sun dries up his pieces so rapidly, but then again, he just draws a different one in its place.
I have also recently visited Olympic park. Created just before the 2008 Olympics to increase Beijing’s 'green’ reputation, this is the largest park in Beijing. Unlike many other parks here, with amusement rides and games to entice visitors, this park is filled with trees to generate more oxygen for the city
I don’t think that Olympic Park is the most beautiful park in Beijing, in terms of the garden design, but there is a beauty in the simplicity and quietness of the place. It felt quite serene there, and I felt refreshed after spending a few hours walking around there for a few hours. Emily and I walked around the 3km track, while Ian felt game enough to do the 10km. While we waited for Ian, we hired a bike and rode around the 3km course another two times, before Ian joined us on the bike for one last lap. The bike looked like something out of the Flintstone’s: a car shape, complete with a wheel, but bike pedals at the driver and passenger’s feet. It was pretty fun driving and maneuvering around the walkers. I was the driver, and I used it as practice for when I come back driving next month at home.
This park is the stereotypical park in Beijing
They had lots of rides set up, but most were running with only one person on them. I’m not sure if it was heat of the day, or the cost of the ride, but they didn’t really look to popular. Ian, Emily and I hired a paddle boat, and went off onto the lake to splash around for a couple of hours. The paddle boats on offer were quite impressive with their expansive collection. They had ‘laser warships’, ‘hummer-style laser warships’, old car styles, circular boats, traditional Chinese style, and the plain ones like what we had. It made for an interesting afternoon on the water, seeing what everyone else was driving. The lake was pretty beautiful, and we spent a peaceful afternoon together paddling around. The only disturbing factor was seeing more dead fish than live ones floating in the lake.
The day ended at the nearby shopping district, called Solana, where we had pizza at a place called Tube Station, home to the largest pizza in Beijing. We sat upstairs and on the balcony, where we had a nice view of the live entertainment happening below us. It is beer festival time at Solana, and although I am not a beer drinker, it created a relaxed atmosphere with the live band, good weather and happy crowd. We ended up sitting at a table in front of the band downstairs after we finished dinner to really enjoy the evening.