blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Chinese students dancing

Here is a postscript that I forgot to add to my account of Day 7, the day before we left Beijing. After supper at the shopping mall, we didn't feel like returning to our hotel straight away so we walked into the peaceful Jiao Tong university campus for a last look round after the sun had set. In one of the courtyards there, we came across a scene that touched us: some of the students had hung strings of lights in the trees, brought a portable CD player along and had improvised a dance floor on the paving stones. The music was light classical. The girls had put on pretty dresses and each had a male partner for al fresco ballroom dancing. Perhaps they were the same students we'd seen practising their dance moves indoors, earlier in the week. We stood in a crowd of onlookers and watched them for a long while before moving on, very struck by the restraint of their behaviour and their old fashioned innocence.

I have written a poem about it.


Chinese students dancing

In the trees hung lanterns and a string of coloured lights,
Weakly bright,
Dance music playing from a boom box,
Sentimental, unprovocative.
You touched each other delicately, still too shy
To clutch.
A voice was singing
Wo xiang ni …

Will you remember that lightness in the darkness
And your heedless longing,
Swinging the girl in her thin dress in the waltzes, being swung, 
The freedom of it,
Not yet knowing passion or responsibilities?

There was warm air and the shadows of many leaves,
And watchers from a great distance, to whom you were oblivious.

All of you together, unassuaged, and the children joining in, 
Trying to dance like you.

Will you remember that music and those faces
When you have gone, grown old,
When you're confronted with sudden silence?

May 2015, Alison Hobbs

Some choice examples of Chinese English

Here's a selection of translated notices, spotted during our week in Beijing:

Dream Beer in Supermarket

No romping

No playing, no loud clamour

No scratching 
(That was in the zoo. I think it meant that visitors shouldn't touch the animals.)

Beijing Patriotic Health Campaign Committee––No smoking

Professional Acne
(Name of a skin care establishment.)

Hospital of Femoral Head Necrosis

We wish you could have a good time!
(That was at the entrance to Jingshan park.)

And of course, the descriptions of food ...

Different kind of snacks

Spicy roast frog

Fish head bubbly cake

Dry pot intestine

Red bean milk shake

Eiskaffee (?!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

From the Temple of Heaven to the sky

May 17th, 2015 (written 10 days later)

Just as we'd finished checking out, Howard turned up at the hotel to collect us and put our luggage in his car. For our sakes, he was sacrificing a whole Sunday, instead of spending that day with his wife, in-laws and baby son. We were grateful to him. This was a sultry morning with heavy rain threatening and smog in the air, so it's just as well he was able to drive us to a spot quite close to the attraction we were going to visit: the famous Temple of Heaven, a UNESCO heritage site, southeast of the city centre.

Having squeezed his car into a parking spot on the Xiangchun Hutong, Howard led us with confidence across the busy road to the North Gate of the Temple of Heaven park, generously paying for our entrance tickets himself. He has brought foreign visitors here before. Immediately within the park we noticed groups of people in fours, playing games of Chinese shuttlecock (jiànzi) on the tree lined pathway.

The replica––I've just read on Wikipedia that the original was struck by lightning and burned down in 1889––15th century Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a huge, triple roofed, circular building with marble terraces around it in concentric circles, steps leading up them on all sides. It's hard to get a photo showing the scale of the site, especially with all those people in the way. The best ploy might be to arrive at 8am, just as the gates open. I was curious to peer inside this building, as Howard said, the equivalent of a cathedral, but it was difficult to catch more than a glimpse of what was beyond the barrier with people pushing in from behind with their cameras. In the interior stood richly patterned pillars, and the domed ceiling was covered with coloured images of dragons (long, 龙) and phoenixes (fenghuang, 凤凰), representing the Yin and Yang. In China, the dragon is a symbol of good fortune, strength and wisdom, not of evil. I think there were stone buffalos in the shadows too; I couldn't be sure.

Wikipedia photo of the Hall of Prayer and outlying halls
A tourist making fun of the Heavenly Stone

South of the Hall of Prayer (the largest structure) is a smaller one, with an echoing wall, The Imperial Vault of Heaven, and lined up with that, further south, is the open air Circular Mound Altar, built in 1530, where they used to worship at the winter solstice, again built in concentric circles with balustrades and flights of marble steps, nine at a time, the nines (as it says on the nearby plaque) "symbolizing the nine layers of Heaven and Emphasizing its extreme importance" (sic). At the centre was the Heavenly Centre Stone, surrounded by nine rings of lesser stones, 18 in the second ring, 81 in the ninth, etc. ... As Howard told us, and as the Wikipedia article explains:
The centre of the altar is a round slate called the Heart of Heaven(天心石) or the Supreme Yang(太阳石), where the Emperor prayed for favourable weather. Thanks to the design of the altar, the sound of the prayer will be reflected by the guardrail, creating significant resonance, which was supposed to help the prayer communicate with the Heaven. 
While we were there, people were irreverently posing for photos on it.

The temple complex is too huge to discover everything in one morning. It includes, for example, the Hall of Divine Music Administration on the western side of the park. What was that? I wondered. We could have explored the paths through this park for hours more. What we did find on the way back to the car was the loveliest méi gùi yuan, rose garden, that I ever saw in China. Such magnificence!

I had to be torn away from there and from the strange birds with their black heads, long tails and blue feathers––which I now think was an azure-winged magpie––and the tiny, tame Chinese marmot in the grass, to be driven to the airport for our flight back to Canada. It only took us about an hour to reach the airport area from the city this time, as the traffic on the main roads was flowing well, that Sunday lunchtime. Howard lives near the airport, he told us, so he knew the way to a restaurant in a modern residential area where he chose a variety of dishes for our substantial lunch at a quiet table. We didn't recognise much of what we were eating, Chris reminds me (though I seem to remember spring rolls, mushrooms, bok choy, flavoured carrots and meats?) but we left well satisfied.

Chris puts his Tilley hat away at the airport
Flight AC32 being prepared for departure
We said goodbye and thanks to Howard at the International Departures drop-off. Then came the long check-in procedures, exit card handover, passport and boarding pass controls, security checks, the wait for our flight to board and the long, long flight itself. We had a good 40 minutes' wait in our seats on the plane, in row 50 again, before ground control gave our pilot push back permission, so our take-off was delayed, and we presumed we wouldn't catch our connecting flight in Toronto. We had intermittent turbulence all the way. I must put it on record that Chris behaved himself remarkably well on this journey, not losing patience once. We each nodded off for about an hour en route; I even had a dream that, near the Arctic waters, the pilot brought the plane down almost to water level so that we were flying among the fishing boats in a harbour, under a bridge and through a hangar, a manoeuvre that knocked off some of the landing gear and fuselage and left cables dangling. We'll never be able to land safely in this state, I thought, as we headed (in my dream, not in reality) towards the mountains of British Columbia ... then something woke me up again, and I went back to watching Gone With The Wind.

It was over 13 hours again before we touched down at Lester Pearson airport, for a long queue in the Immigration Hall (though luckily we were put in a priority line for passengers with connections), then a frantic dash through the baggage collection hall, up and down the steps and the corridors to re-drop our suitcase and be issued twice with new boarding cards: after being told we'd be on a later than planned flight to Ottawa, the original flight turned out to be delayed so we could make the connection after all, but only just. "Paging passengers Christopher Hobbs and Alison Hobbs ...!" During the security checks at Domestic Departures I was of course chosen for the random body search; once released from there we all but ran to our gate. This sort of thing is very stressful for people with erratic pulses. Our last flight of the day in the Canadian sunset was smooth and quick and easy though, and the taxi ride home through peaceful little Ottawa a real pleasure. As we could see in the lamplight, my green garden plants had sprung up beyond recognition during our week away.

Finally we lay down in our own bed. It had been a 28 hour day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Day 7 in Beijing: to the Summer Palace

Saturday, May 16th, 2015

At Xiuyi Bridge, Kunming Lake, Summer Palace

This was Chris' free day, another fine summer's day that we began by walking to a nearby ATM to draw some cash that we didn't need. Because we wanted to visit the Summer Palace (yi he yuan), we liked Howard's suggestion to take a river boat there, from the zoo, its north gate being a short walk from our hotel. So this time we entered the zoo on a fine day, and of course it was packed with young families. Our admission, including the boat fare, came to a tiny fraction of what we'd paid the previous week, only ¥65 in total, maybe because we weren't intending to visit the Aquarium this time. Who knows? Anyhow, as we had 45 minutes to wait for the next boat (chuán), it was pleasant to stroll around in the sunshine spotting a few more animals than before––a mongoose, a rhino, a cassowary and the Australian kangaroos. For some reason they had a great many tapir pens.

Hippos at the Beijing zoo
Speedboat and riverboat dock, at Beijing zoo
Plenty of fun to be had in this location! We could have had a thrill on the speed boats making waves on the Nanchang River here.

Our leisurely ride up the river took a whole hour, partly because we had to change boats at Zizhuyuan Park (near the National Library). The first boat was crowded, the second less so; a little girl in the seat in front made friends with us.

At the end of the ride we landed at the steeply arched Xiuyi Bridge that I remembered so well from our first ever day in China, in 2011, when Sha had taken us for a walk round Kunming Lake and the palace grounds. We repeated a lot of that walk this time, wandering slowly along the West Causeway (Xidi) with its six bridges, that replicates the walkway across West Lake in Hangzhou. Inevitably, we missed the company we'd had on that first occasion and felt nostalgic for Hangzhou as well, but these were happy and for me, very vivid memories. Like the Chinese ladies, I carried an open umbrella to keep the sun off. The views were splendid.

View of Kunming Lake with the distant hills and pagoda

The souvenir shop
I even remembered where the stall was where we'd found something to eat, back then, and it was still there, selling me hot pot noodles this time and some bing shui (ice-water) for Chris. After our lunch on a bench in the shade, watching the ferry boats and their passengers, and the families going by, some of them erecting little tents on the grass for the afternoon, we walked through the more populous part of the grounds. I remembered a little house there that sells souvenirs, and that our friends Rob and Sally had bought a CD of Chinese guzheng (zither) music there. Four years later, I did likewise, the music still playing in the background to encourage me. The owner of that shop calculated the change he owed me on an abacus.

Many boats seen from the north shore of Kunming Lake
Our legs and feet were growing weary by now, so we found a few further excuses for sitting down before reaching the park exit, beyond the long corridor or long gallery, 长廊, (nearly 800m long, built in the 1750s, now swarming with tour groups all following their flag-carrying leader, most of the westerners looking far less relaxed and more overwhelmed than we were by the heat and the crowds) and past a pretty little bridge and fishpond. At the East Gate we were near a new underground station. A cluster of modern buildings, hotels, shops and restaurants have been built at the station end of Tongqing Street, lined with bus stops, that leads from the East Gate, and we found a Starbucks there that incongruously sold lattes, chocolate brownies and panini. Not traditional Beijing fare, but making good business among westerners and young Chinese tourists alike.

Then we took a Line 4 train from Xiyuan all the way to Xizhimen. That was easy!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Day 6 in Beijing: on the Jiao Tong campus and up the Jingshan

Written May 15th, 2015

Entrance to Jiao Tong University
Today, Chris was finally able to relax after the completion of his assignment here. The people he's been working with left a box of expensive and beautifully packaged guan yin tea at our hotel--we found it on the bed just now when we came in.

Graduates of Jiao Tong Da Xue
While Chris was conferring with Prof. Liu and his colleagues and students this morning, I had a leisurely start, though I'd been awake since 5:30am, and a fascinating walk around the university by myself, observing the life on campus. I struck lucky because it was graduation day today and many of the students were proudly wearing their robes and taking photos of one another around the pond and in the garden near the Chairman Mao statue. I saw some proud parents in attendance too. The girls wore traditional Maoist tunics of pale blue cotton with black piping round their high collar and wide sleeves, over a demure black, knee-length skirt. Some had their hair in pigtails, which made them seem even more demure, but to my amusement I did notice a few had pleated their tunics with a safety pin at the back to give them more of a waist. The young men were in smart, new, black tunics.

Reading outdoor newspapers on the campus 

The graduates were celebrating, in their robes
Old lady walking through the campus
Chris' place of work,
with soldiers running
The campus doesn't appear to be confined to the students. I saw many young mums with their little ones again as well as some old people strolling around, one gentleman pointing with his stick at the characters on a stone as he mouthed the poem to himself. On the sports field, some young men and women 20 years old or so were jumping over skipping ropes in giggly groups, like 10-year-olds in a British schoolyard. Some other young men, extremely disciplined and dressed in army fatigues, were jogging round the racetrack in unison under the supervision of a sergeant major. As usual in outdoor Beijing, uniformed workers in conical straw hats with a broom and a dustpan on a stick kept coming along to sweep the pavement. I felt I was seeing little vignettes of Chinese life on this campus. It is a lovely place to walk around on a fine May morning, under the avenues of leafy trees and past the fragrant flowers.

Chris orders a coca cola
Chris met me back at the hotel; we lunched at the street round the corner from the Gaoliangqian Xiejie, returning to the comfortable restaurant where we'd dined on our first evening here and were served a bubbling bowl of chicken remains, including all the bones and the feet, with whole garlic and a sort of dumplings, kept hot by a small flame, and another tasty dish of beans and other things in strips. I've no idea what were were eating or what it was called, or what the restaurant was called, but it was a decent meal. Our visa card didn't work in their credit card machine so we had to resort to cash, as is often the case in this country.

No worries about supper because Howard and Henry had offered to treat us. We were to meet them at the junction of Lines 6 and 8 at Nanluoguxiang station (a bit of a mouthful to pronounce), which is so new that it does not appear on my map, but we worked it out from first principles, and realised that, once there, we'd be within walking distance of Jingshan park. Chris wanted to relax on park benches again this afternoon, so that's where we headed after coming up to ground level at Exit B. This area, remarkably popular with non-Chinese tourists, is also not far from the Qianhai and Houhai Lakes and Beihai Park, so I didn't think we'd get too lost.

Western couple on the slopes of Jingshan
The park was at the end of another leafy avenue--I was really grateful for the shade, even though today was cooler and fresher than yesterday. Then, because there was the inevitable big red wall round the park, we had to ask where the entrance was and continue round the corner. This park's name means Mountain with Landscape View, or something like that, and when we went in, it was idyllic, with graceful dark cypresses round the base of the mountain and rocky steps up the shady side. We encountered a non-Chinese couple here who asked us to take a picture of them; I think she was American and he was British. He was preparing to run a marathon tomorrow ... along parts of the Great Wall! Anyhow after chatting to us for a few minutes, they climbed the Jingshan nimbly enough. We sat and rested on the ascent, where it was quiet, and again at the top where it was not quiet; crowds of other people stood pointing at the formidable view of the great city skyscrapers to the north, similar to our views from high places in Tokyo, and on the other side of the roofs and whole extent of the Forbidden City.

This is a very famous view. It strikes me that the similarly extensive, strictly guarded Zhongnanhai compound behind the long red wall on Fuyou street today is not so very different from what this Imperial compound of old China used to be. The earth and rocks from the moat excavation around the Forbidden City, by the way, were used to create Jingshan, this "mountain" on which we stood looking down.

There's a gigantic golden Buddha in a temple at the summit of the Jingshan, to whom people were being encouraged to pray after the purchase of incense sticks and rosary beads. One lady I watched refused to pay for the extras but having stood and muttered with her fingertips together and having dipped her forehead to the cushion at the Buddha's feet, did slip him a 10-yuan note under one of the boxes of offerings. People of many different nationalities were sitting on the wall and benches or chatting in groups, including a large group of people who were Asian, but definitely not Chinese. I'm guessing Burmese, all the ladies in identical long golden, lacy dresses, some of them also wearing Mandarin hats bought from the gift shop. They and their menfolk were in a cheerful mood.

As we climbed back down the mountain we stopped to listen to a musician on a saxophone accompanied by an accordion player, entertaining a group of American and European students with a medley of music of their countries. He had an impressive repertoire, from the Marseilleise to Funiculi-Funicula.

Typically chaotic afternoon traffic near Nanluoguxiang zhan
Supper with Howard and Henry
We took our time wandering through the bottom of the park then walked back to Nanluoguxiang station to wait for Howard and Henry at Exit B. They showed up dead on time at 5pm and we set off walking again: supper was at a Korean restaurant on Qianhai Lake. We ate at an outdoor table under the willow trees, the Beijing men doing the ordering, fortunately. We shared all the dishes. My drink was a surprisingly good, frothy tomato juice and Chris got two bottles of the beer he likes. While we dined, lines of tourists went by in groups following their leader who held up a flag. Howard said he could “feel” that some of them were southern Chinese. After the meal we did a slow circuit of the lake, past the street vendors selling massages, kites and so on, constantly offered rickshaw rides and seeing the sunset over a distant mountain. Before it was quite dark a taxi ride with Howard and Henry took us back to the hotel, past Ping'anli and under the intertwining Xizhimen road bridges.

Sunset and tourists at Houhai Lake

Day 5 in Beijing: Olympic Park and hutongs

Written May 14th, 2015

Pond and tower at the Olympic Green
Chris finished giving his training course today and will spend the morning with one of the profs tomorrow morning. In the afternoon we'll be able to go out together again, not far, as it gets awfully hot in the afternoons, when I come back to the hotel room for a rest and the thermometer says 25º, which feels cool. I didn't fall asleep today, watched some of Gone with the Wind on the DVD-player instead.

This morning I decided to see something modern, the Olympic (Ao Lin Pi Ke) park, which is accessed by three well spread out tube stations; I chose the middle one, Olympic Green. To reach it, I had to take Line 13, the railway on stilts, giving me a view of hutong demolition below, the slums everywhere giving way to tower blocks, to Zhichunlu, two stops to the north, then transferred to Line 10 along a long passageway, then at the fourth station along that line to Line 8, two stops. Line 10 used to be our nearest tube line when we stayed at the "Hornki Great" Hotel four years ago, so as I went through Mudanyuan station I thought of Sha, George, Rob and Sally who had been with us then.

At the Olympic Park, with IBM building

Bird's Nest Stadium with future athlete
Imitation Bird's Nest lamp

Surfacing at Olympic Green is quite a thrill, because you're immediately surrounded by wide, clean spaces and futuristic architecture and art installations. There's also a big pond that I remembered seeing on the way to George's 2011 astronomy conference dinner. It had waterlilies and boats in it. I walked by the side of the pond as far as the entrance to the Olympic plaza which seems to be inspired by Tian'anmen Square, being so vast and rectangular. Ai Weiwei's Bird's Nest Stadium is on one side and the Water Cube and wiggle-topped IBM building on the other. I could have ridden in a little train-bus like the sensible people, but I chose to zigzag the whole length of the plaza on foot, which I estimate to be at least 3 kilometres, so by the time I'd reached the Olympic Sports Centre station at the far end I'd really had enough walking for the day. The heat was already intense and it was not yet noon.

A long walk through the Olympic Sports Centre

Rickshaws waiting for passengers at Shichahai
Too early to return to the hotel, I had time to return to another interesting place on our previous visit to Beijing: the district known as Schichahai near the central hutongs. Sha had taken us to a wonderful teahouse there, but I didn't go inside this time. It had been too precious an experience to repeat by myself.

In the Yandai alleyway
The lakesides were still fun, although rather more tacky than I remember. I walked the Yandai (tobacco pouch) alley again in both directions, jam packed with people, didn't buy anything except postcards, and dodged the rickshaws and bikes coming at me in all directions, with the drivers shouting, “Lady! Rickshaw!” My lunch was another rip-off: 95 yuan. It was quite a good imitation of a Hawaiian pizza, but that price was ridiculous.

What I enjoyed most was veering off the beaten track to see what the hutongs were like behind the scenes. Scruffy in the extreme, but more genuine.

Qianhai Lake
Chris sent me a text message to say he was finishing work mid-afternoon, so I made my way home from Beihai Bei as I'd done the day before yesterday, easy once you know how. None of it feels so strange any more. I checked out some more dining possibilities in the big shopping mall and we ended up at a very good restaurant called Sizzlers this evening, packed with young Chinese trying out the knives and forks, before another stroll round the university campus, where 60,000 people live. We saw a warbler-like bird I didn't recognise, fluttering in the fir trees. The rose beds look lovely. Children were playing round the central pond, among them two little boys with toy spades, doing some gardening.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Day 4 in Beijing: Wangfujing and Zhongshan Park

Written May 13th, 2015

Chris had a productive day today, meeting the “Director State Key Laboratory of Rail Traffic Controland Safety,” Mr. Tang, for lunch at the campus hotel (Hongguoyuan) with all four of the local QNX men. They had roast duck plus dozens of other dishes, apparently. Chris' training course is going well; they'll probably finish the training half way through tomorrow, but then Chris will spend some extra time with the university people.

Today, my day was going to be shopping, but it's never my favourite pursuit, so I lingered in a park again.

I set off straight after breakfast with good intentions, buying a tube ticket that would allow me to reach Wangfujing station (a ¥4 ticket) on Line 1, change at Xidan. The trains were crowded today, but twice I was politely offered a seat by a young man and accepted gratefully both times. When you arrive at one of these stations you need to pay attention to the map of the exits and choose the right one for your purposes, or you could find yourself the wrong side of an 8-lane highway. The exit I chose this time brought me up to ground level in the middle of a huge department store, so finding my way out took a while. Wangfujing Dajie is the Oxford Street of Beijing, wide and largely pedestrianised with booths selling soft drinks in the middle. It sells clothes ranging from Prada outfits to kitschy straw hats and plastic flip flops. There are two enormous bookshops, both of which have English novels for sale, precious art books, computer manuals and maps of Beijing, and a huge children's books and toys section, but of course most of the shelves are copiously stocked with Chinese literature. In the corners of each floor they sell souvenirs––tea sets, bangles, placemats and such. I browsed through these big stores, wasting time rather, because I didn't find anything that appealed to me. A friend in Ottawa had asked me to try to find a plate-display stand for her, a sort of wooden easel. I found some, but they weren't for sale without the object to be displayed, so the shop assistants wouldn't let me buy one. I am too embarrassed to describe my attempts at making myself understood in Chinese; in the end I gave up. I went into an Emporium too, tried and gave up again, but bought a fan and a silken tissue box cover there. I should perhaps have bought more things made of silk, but being a poor and uninspired shopper, I didn't.

Yi wan kung pao ji
Many things on the Wangfujing Dajie are expensive; many are rip-offs. The fan I'd bought in the Emporium was the twin of the ones I saw in a souvenir shop further down at a fifth of its price. Rip-offs annoy me, so I cheered myself up (?) by going to look at the alleyway selling the unforgettable scorpions on skewers as snacks. Some were still wriggling, I'm afraid. The alleyway was indescribably noisy, scruffy and crowded. I could also have bought some baby octopus legs with spring onions. It was getting extremely hot and smelly--the temperature rose well into the 30s today--and I needed lunch, so I left the shopping area for a side street where there were restaurants and sat down for a fast bowl of Kung Pao Ji with rice, along with crowds of young office workers on their lunchbreak, five of whom shared my window table.

That's enough, I thought, I'll walk back to one of the stations near Tian'anmen Square and then go back to the hotel for a siesta. I found a walk through flowerbeds and trees beside a canal on one side and on the other a row of exclusive looking, sealed-off hutongs, a residential area for VIPs, I think.

Tiananmen Square from the northern side
In order to walk across the north side of the famous Square (more of a rectangle, really) I had to join the queue to have my bags scanned. “Please accept the Security Check for your own and other people's safety.” The young girl in uniform ran a wand over my legs too. Soldiers and police were posted everywhere again. Once through the barrier and past the street vendors frantically trying to sell rainbow umbrella hats and Chinese flags, I could pass the grand entrance to the Forbidden City with its stone lions, flagpoles and Chairman Mao portrait still prominently central. I liked the roses planted in front of the forbidding walls; they softened them.

Inside Zhongshan part
In the mid-day heat haze (smog that can be smelled) I was heading for the Tian'anmen West station, but on the way came across a nice surprise: another garden I hadn't seen yet: Zhongshan Park. This place, named in honour of Sun Yat Sen, is combined botanical garden and place of refuge, with an ancient “altar” to the gods of land and grain in its centre, with a square of five different coloured soils, symbolising all the earth below heaven that the Ming Dynasty Emperor ruled. The building behind it was hundreds of years old, and so were the giant cypress trees. I sat in various corners of this park, including a bench by the moat (tongzi he) that surrounds the Forbidden City, watching the hired boats go by, and at an outdoor table by a drinks booth, drinking a very sugary drink; because I was so thirsty, anything would do.

Moat round the Forbidden City, seen from Zhongshan Park

A respite from the city in Zhongshan Park
This evening, after the inevitable sleep on the hotel bed, Chris took me for a walk round the Jiaotong university campus to an obviously popular restaurant he'd visited for lunch yesterday, where we ate some more roast duck. We had a glimpse of the life on campus, people doing all kinds of sports on the sports field, indulging in a dance class, or cuddling in the courtyard pavilions. Looking through the upstairs windows of their halls of residence we observed that the students sleep in dormitories, in bunk beds.