Written May 15th, 2015
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.
|Entrance to Jiao Tong University|
|Graduates of Jiao Tong Da Xue|
|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
|Chris orders a coca cola|
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|
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.
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.
|Typically chaotic afternoon traffic near Nanluoguxiang zhan|
|Supper with Howard and Henry|
|Sunset and tourists at Houhai Lake|