Chapter 2. Beijing: Getting lost in hutongs
Trip Start Jun 26, 2012
5Trip End Ongoing
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For those missing more international company after a day spent wandering (lost) in hutongs, the place to recommend is Bar Street, where all expats and fellow travelers meet. That's were you find all the pubs, clubs and grab a bite when you can't look at Chinese cuisine any more. Many backpackers usually say they prefer to totally immerse in a local culture and avoid such places, but I'm not a backpacker so I'm excused. Me and Sarah took a special liking to a bar in our neighbourhood (Helen's, yey!;p) - good beer, air con and lovely people offering advice how to unblock facebook
But of course, we continued with a proper sightseeing as well and went to the Lama Temple. Very busy, full of tourist and people praying and burning incenses. However, at the same time I found it quite relaxing (I really enjoy the smell od joss sticks, but it was so intense some people might get a headache). It's also a place where you find the impressive 18-metre tall statue of Maitreya Buddha (Smiling Buddha).
Talking of more religous practices - once we saw a woman making a fire in a middle of the hutong alley and burning money in it. I tried to ask why is she doing that but she just pointed at heaven and gave me some fake notes to burn too. Later I found out that what she was burning was the so-called 'ghost money' offered to ancestors. I don't remember why I didn't take a picture of it, probably that was when my camera battery died.
As one of the reason I came to China was my interst in the martial arts, I was really anxious to join locals and do some Tai chi with them in the park. That's what I heard before coming here - there are CROWDS of people practicing Tai chi at every bloody corner. Well, that's not true - I didn't see any (in Peking). Maybe they do it only in the mornings, in which case there is not suprise I missed them, as waking up early is really not my thing. However, parks didn't disappoint me at all - quite the opposite. We went to Jishanglin park, located north from the Forbidden City, on a hill from which you can have a nice view (as nice as it gets in this smog - I almost forgot how the blue sky looks like).
Last, but not least - the Night Market, probably the most awesome place you can go to in the evening. It's just off the main shopping street in Beijing but at the same time is suprisingly hard to find. It's just so lively and beautiful - perfect place for shopping (barganing) for souvenirs and curios and for trying various culinary specialities (if you dare).
Enjoy the pictures!