Chill Out in Hou Hai

On May 7, 2012, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

‘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 […]

‘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!

 

 

 

 

 

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Wonder by Wonder: The Badaling Great Wall: A Journey in Pictures

On September 9, 2010, in Beijing, Must-sees, by Jack Li

President Richard Nixon once famously said “This is a Great Wall and only a great people with a great past could have a great wall and such a great people with such a great wall will surely have a great future”.  He was right. On Monday 6th September 2010 I followed in the footsteps of […]

President Richard Nixon once famously said “This is a Great Wall and only a great people with a great past could have a great wall and such a great people with such a great wall will surely have a great future”.  He was right. On Monday 6th September 2010 I followed in the footsteps of Nixon, Thacher, Reagan and Queen Elizabeth and set out across the Badaling Great Wall of China experiencing China’s most iconic wonder against raw and striking scenery.



13:00 ~ The road snakes through dramatic scenery as we make our way to the Badaling Great Wall.

13:20 ~ From our seats we spot the Juyongguan Great Wall, this section, closest to Beijing is thought to be one of the most                                      strategically significant sections of the structure constructed in the 5th century. Open 6am until 4am daily.

13:45 ~ A large wall plague describes the Great Wall’s  new world wonder status as we arrive in Badaling.

14:00 ~ Race you to the top!

14:05: The Olympic motto is proudly displayed in the Badaling hills

14:20 ~ Badaling Great Wall, dating back to 1368, is incredibly steep!

14:30 ~ On it snakes, through the mountainous terrain……………………………………………………………

14:45 ~ ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….Piece of cake.

15:00 ~ The views become more dramatic as we continue on our journey.

15:10 ~ The highest point comes into view.

15:45 ~ Don’t look down its a long, long way to fall.

16:05 ~Its easier on the way down!

17:00 ~ Cool down with some green tea ice cream at the bottom.

To experience my adventures on the Badaling Great Wall for yourself or for more information on Beijing contact China Travel Depot.

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A Match Made in Heaven.

On September 2, 2010, in Cool Places, Cultural Experience, Must-sees, by Jack Li

Ever wondered what a temple of heaven would look like? Well now is your chance to see and feel it in Beijing with the China Travel Depot. Widely regarded as the pinnacle of Ming design, the temple of heaven really does accentuate the beauty within Beijing. A small entrance fee equivalent to around £3.50 represents […]

Ever wondered what a temple of heaven would look like? Well now is your chance to see and feel it in Beijing with the China Travel Depot. Widely regarded as the pinnacle of Ming design, the temple of heaven really does accentuate the beauty within Beijing. A small entrance fee equivalent to around £3.50 represents extremely good value for money especially considering how accessible the temple is compared to other attractions such as the Forbidden City. The temple can be described as a complex of Taoist buildings situated in the southern eastern part of central Beijing, giving as close of a representation of heaven as namely possible.

The whole temple complex is surrounded by two cordons of walls; the outer wall has a taller, semi-circular northern end, representing Heaven, and a shorter, rectangular southern end, representing the Earth. Not only is the temple surrounded by breathtaking architecture, but arguably one of the most serene parks in the whole of Beijing is sat just beside it; Tianten Park. Here it is easy to find seclusion away from the beautiful temple buildings

A Little Background.

Okay, so now you know a little about the scenery of the temples, but after you see them all will you be able to believe it was built in 1420 A.D? The temple was offered as a sacrifice to Heaven, by the Ming dynasty. However, as Chinese emperors called themselves ‘The Son of Heaven’, they dared not to build their own dwelling, ‘Forbidden City’ bigger than a dwelling for Heaven. After reading this and seeing the temple, one gets a real insight into the vast and amazing culture which China takes account for.

Chinese Whispers.

Be sure to bring along someone to your visit to the Temple of heaven, not only to share the extraordinary experience but to visit the Echo Wall. Apart from holding a perimeter of 193 meters the wall utilizes the theory of sound wave. If one of you stands at the east roots of the wall and the other at the west roots of the wall and you whisper a word, then your companion will clearly be able to hear what you are saying. Who said anything about Chinese whispers accumulating errors?

It Doesn’t Stop There.

Not only does the Temple of Heaven surround all these amazing places but there is a variety of others. Be sure to check out the Nine-Dragon Cypress. (You’re probably at this moment asking yourself what could this possibly be? Well, the Nine-Dragon Cypress got its name from the branches of the tree looking like nine dragons intertwined with each other). The tree was planted a whopping 500 years ago, that’s right, 500 years ago. The Beijing Museum of Natural History is also a must see for all you Historians, young and old wanting to know that little bit more about Beijing’s history.

A 500 year old dragon-like tree, a temple of heaven and a theory proving wall; Beijing yet again fails to disappoint. Be sure to check out all these and many other amazing attractions with the China Travel Depot. Book early to avoid disappointment.

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