|Mural and ATM at Beihai Bei underground station|
Chris went to work today, met by 3 young men in the lobby at 8:30am who accompanied him to the large, white Science building on foot. The day was cool, but rapidly warming up. Half an hour later, I set out myself, solo this time, and headed to Xizhimen zhan, the tube station, over the dangerous pedestrian crossings. I tried getting cash from an ATM but my card was rejected, probably because I tapped in the wrong PIN--some keypads are differently configured here. Then I also made the mistake of going through the security check at the entrance to the trains before buying my ticket (Everyone has their bags scanned, and in other places, the ticket machines are beyond this hurdle.). In my rudimentary Chinese, I had to explain to the security guard I'd have to repeat the procedure, but like most people in Beijing he smiled at me, mei guanxi, no problem. I was returning to Beihai Park, because I hadn't seen it all yet and thought it would merit a second visit. This time though, I took a far easier route to get there: Line 4 to Ping'anli, 2 stops, transfer to Line 6, 1 stop, and out at Beihai Bei zhan, which was almost diagonally opposite from the North Gate of the park. On the northern side of the road is the entrance to the “Hutongs” (old alleyways) near Qianhai lake which we'd visited in 2011 with our daughter-in-law-to-be, Sha.
|Teaching their grandson to fish, in Beihai Park|
|Communist sculpture in Beihai Park|
|Bridge to the island|
Dagoba" at the top of the steep hill, some 160 steps up. There was an extra charge to see it at close quarters so I contented myself by looking at the views from the lookout points, could make out the three unmistakable skyscrapers with their curved tops where Xizhimen is, Beijing's TV tower, and many traditional-looking roofs in the near distance. At close quarters, their eaves are decorated with symbolic rows of dragons and Imperial personages. Back at lake level I walked right round the island, on one side of which is a long, curved outdoor corridor with red pillars, its ceiling painted very thoroughly and beautifully with flowers, birds, landscapes and story pictures. Pity I don't know the stories!
|In the long corridor|
|In the long corridor, detail|
|The corridor is a place to take a rest|
|"Qiong dao chun yin"|
I sat on a stone step--the benches being fully occupied--to eat an improvised picnic from what I'd found in a supermarket this morning, including a tub of yoghurt with integral spoon. Dairy products are generally not so popular, but the Chinese do seem to like yoghurt. I'd failed to find any cheese; they prefer tofu. Then I slowly retraced my steps to the North Gate, leaving the cacophony behind (one man on a saxophone was teaching his fellows to play Auld Lang Syne ... over and over again) and the gentleman with his spinning top on a string, and the park's cats, sparrows, swallows and magpies, for the cacophony of the traffic on the street beyond the wall.
We'd walked so far yesterday that today my knees had started to hurt; I decided to take the tubes back “home” with a long stop at the Costa Coffee shop on the way and this time did manage to withdraw some more cash from an ATM at Beihai Bei station. In the mall, I also managed to locate the restaurant called "Tasty" whose advert Chris had noticed yesterday and where we ate tonight: steak and salmon, served in a very posh way, with a bread basket, vegetables, fruit tea, beer for Chris and desserts for us both, this whole meal costing the equivalent of a light weekend brunch in Ottawa, about $30. And they don't expect any tips.
Chris, having had a demanding but apparently satisfying day working with intelligent people at the university is in bed, fast asleep, as I type this. It's not yet 9:30pm.