Have you ever wondered how to spell Starbucks in Mandarin?
Hou Hai is an area of Beijing known for its alleyways and lakes/recreation areas. There are also two enormous towers – the drum tower and the bell tower.
I had lunch up on a rooftop overlooking the lake where I got to watch the boat traffic jams as everyone tried to pass through the narrow part of the lake and under the bridge at the same time. It was quite amusing.
Instead of taking the subway back to my hotel I decided to walk. It was probably a few miles but the sun was out and the air was cool. I bought a ticket to Beihai park and meandered through. I saw more people on the lake boating, groups doing exercise, and of course the amazing White Dagoba on an island in the middle of the lake.
As you may remember, Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. As an athlete I always get chills when visiting Olympic sites. This one had such iconic stadiums that it was hard to suppress my excitement.
The famous Water Cube is now used as a water park and swim facility. So if you want to swim where the Olympians did go ahead! Tours are available for the Bird’s Nest as well so you can check it out.
The Green features a dragon shaped lake and lots of shopping/food areas.
If only it were actually summer when I visited this beautiful palace but the cooler air of China was quite welcoming when compared to my new normal of 90°F/30°C.
The summer palace is slightly outside of the city but the subway system will still take you there for 2¥ (about US$0.30). I met a nice Chinese family visiting Beijing from another part of China. They were more than happy to force their daughter to use her English skills and talk to me 🙂
We walked together to the entrance before parting ways but not before they asked to have their photo taken with me. Of course I obliged. Fortunately it didn’t start a chain reaction of others coming up and asking too.
The grounds of the Summer Palace are quite expansive and surround a lake that was full of people in paddle boats and other kind of boats. The main part of the palace is up on a hill overlooking the lake. As I approached to climb it I was reminded of the Wall in Game of Thrones. Standing in front of me was a massive brick structure and a long set of stairs, it seemed daunting. Once I made it to the top though I realized how small it was.
There are typically 3 Ss associated with China:
– There are no ordinances to control smoking in public, restaurants, and hotels. As a result it is common to see the person next to you light up as they are eating or to walk into an elevator filled with smoke.
– Do you remember that scene in Titanic where Jack is trying to teach Kate how to spit over the side of the boat? That plus some is what spitting is like in China. It is an obnoxious sound, almost as if the people are winding up for the spit. You hear it continuously.
– I am used to be stared at so this doesn’t bother me as much as I have stopped noticing it most of the time, but other people in my group have commented on the staring. They will stare even after you have made eye contact with them.
A fourth I would like to add is this:
– Every city we have been to thus far has the smog haze over it. It affects your throat and also the distance you can see. Rain doesn’t even help it. Earlier this year in Beijing, it reached a level that was 26 times more than the amount considered safe by the World Health Organization. You wonder what effect it has on the health of Chinese citizens.