Between 10pm and 5am, the city is alive and thriving. Night markets, busy streets, lights everywhere — life doesn’t stop in Beijing.
I was introduced to massage by my former boss in Hong Kong, Ning. Now don’t imagine inappropriate work incentives: Ning may have paid me a ridiculous wage and asked me to work on weekends too often, but he wasn’t this kind of man.
A collection of “Chinglish” signs spotted in Beijing… wait — don’t you speak Chinglish?
The day is almost over, it’s now time to relax. I sometimes wish I were a morning person because I find the idea of waking up a bit before the world does a very good one. But I’m useless in the morning… so I settled for dusk.
We accidentally discovered the new heart of Beijing’s nightlife a few days later, walking around the Old Beijing. Most of the trendy bars are now in Hou Hai (后海), by Beihai， where bars, discos, restaurants and night markets are set around the lakes.
Cars are plentiful but people still bike everywhere, older people hang out in traditional parks and not around the Bird Nest, calligraphy is still an art that is practice in the street and many traditions are still followed. This is also Beijing.
Like many megalopolis in the world, Beijing has two sides: a modern one and an old one.
Qiánmén is one of the most central district of Beijing. No matter what you look for, you will find it there, either in one of the busy hútòng or on Qiánmén street itself: Beijing Duck at Quanjude, shoes at Neiliansheng, silk at Ruifuxiang… these century-old establishments were purveyors to the Imperial Court and still exist today.
These are my personal favorite: Bāozi (包子） and Beijing Duck (北京烤鸭). These two dishes are relatively unknown overseas, where “Chinese food” is often a synomym of “Fried Rice”, “Chow Mien” and “Egg Foo Yung”… and other dishes that cater to Western taste and are everything but Chinese!
Beihai Park is an imperial garden, North of the Forbidden City, and initially connected to it.
The Summer Palace, in downtown Beijing, is an enclave of peace away from the craziness of the city. Dominated by the Longevity Hill and set around the Kunming lake, an artificial lake entirely man made, the place has a variety of palaces and gardens.
Forty-seven hours. That’s how long it took us to come back from Beijing.
Today, Tiananmen Square remains one of the symbol of Mao’s disillusion of grandeur, a huge square — the biggest in the world — dedicated to him, China, the “people’s heroes”, and jealously guarded night and day by the Party.
Last Sunday, we attended the Beijing Olympic Closing Ceremony. We left early, expecting a huge crowd: the previous days, we had attended a couple of volleyball games and track and field, and getting to the Olympic Green was… challenging.
Located right behind Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace of the Ming and the Qing dynasties (the last two ones).
What’s the best activity if it’s 45C and you slept only 6 hours the previous night because the hostel was noisy? Climbing the Great Wall, of course!
Last Saturday, we finally got the chance to visit the Olympic Green. The olympic venues were scattered across the city, but the main ones were held at the National Stadium, the famous Bird Nest, and at the Watercube.
One of the first place I really wanted to come back to was Wangfujing, a huge street market. I had loved the atmosphere when I was studying in Beijing and I was glad to see it didn’t changed much.
The only problem with Finland is… Finnish. It doesn’t look like any language I know and it really didn’t make any sense to me. Way too many “ö” and “ë” if you ask me. But fortunately, most people spoke great English so we were able to get around without too much trouble.
I haven’t packed anything yet, I have just found out I have a hole in my sandals and I can’t find my tweezer but everything is under control. E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. But my packing, that is.
Heart Of The Country / Where The Holy People Grow / Heart Of The Country / Smell The Grass In The Meadow…
Radiohead was playing in Montreal and we drove the 400 km there and back to attend the show. By the time we got through the security, we were soaked. The park where the concert was held was extremely muddy — let’s just say I hadn’t been that dirty since I was 5 and loved to jump in poodles of water.