‘What can I do on a sunny day on my travel to Beijing?’ – Here’s a thought, try Hou Hai. The place is popular with tourists which is made more obvious after considering what it has to offer. The spontaneity of creating your own itinerary can be extremely fun and the randomness of the Hou Hai area makes this all the more appealing. One suggestion is to go on one of the different Beijing tours to the Drum and Bell Tower in the morning and then mosey down to Hou Hai in the afternoon. Hou Hai is reachable from Gulou Dajie station, subway line 2 and is the perfect area to spend a sunny afternoon, as I discovered on Saturday.

Before reaching the lakes, there is always the chance to explore Hou Hai’s stores. These stores sell a spectrum of products where most people will find something of interest. For one, the shop owners will often welcome you to try out their items. In one shop, for example, you can test out your musical ability by playing various ocarinas. Most probably my favourite, is a store where you can buy satirical postcards and then have the opportunity to write them out downstairs whilst you Hou Hai experience is fresh in the mind.

So now you are probably fatigued from browsing the shops which line Hou Hai. To cool off there are a selection of bars and cafes and some excellent teashops allowing you to sample (taste and smell) some of their finest produce. Even though tea might seems like it should be drunk on a milder day, the tea shops around host and wealth of fruitful iced teas. My personal choice was to opt for a refreshing mango smoothie (as opposed to a friend who went for a more adventurous ‘Yakult’ concoction).

Once you have your iced-drink in your hand, it is time to head towards the lake for some fun! Locals can be seen swimming in the lake, (but personally, considering the congestion on the water, I would prefer not to). Instead, there is the exciting option of hopping on a paddle-boat. This is an activity not to be ignored, especially as the boats can accommodate groups. From here, you can sit back, relax and take a sip of your smoothie – (well, depending who is doing all the work paddling!).

We had a particularly enjoyable time listening to some background music on a friend’s phone and weaving past boats, swimmers and ducks. Alas, no standing is allowed on the boats so any rendition of ‘Rose’ and ‘Jack’ from the film the Titanic was out of the question. In some respects, boating on the lake ironically felt like a driving test with the amount of precise manoeuvres required. The main difference however, was that it was inevitable not to avoid a collision with fellow boaters, especially when meandering under the low-lying bridge.

After parking our boat, we found an eatery for dinner and ordered some cold noodles and cucumber with a spicy sauce which was definitely the perfect finale to warm springtime day in Beijing. Days like this certainly make me reflect as to when I should book my next Beijing flights!






Jack Li
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