I have just come back from a week in Beijing – my daughter is there learning mandarin and doing voluntary work. i didn’t plan on visiting but due to last week being a national holiday – golden week – moon festival, she had a week free, so off I went to visit her. I had only been to southern china once before, back to visit my grandmother, so it was all new and exciting. fortunately alice has been there for 2 months already and so planned the whole week ahead – and when I say plan, I mean day by day, hour by hour…… so I am going to be posting about all the eventful days that we spent discovering the city, its beautiful parks, historical sites and the best restaurants and food that we shared; normally I do this as I am experiencing it, but it was quite difficult in china to get access to websites, blogs, Instagram – I had to install express vpn which basically hides where you are based, so that you can access your Instagram accounts or even google things in English – all these things are barred in china, as they have strict laws, but this app seems to help.
considering that my mother is Chinese, I realised how westernised I have been brought up and so being in china definitely opened up an intrigue into the culture and traditions of china. early autumn is a perfect time to visit, as the climate is very changeable, hot in the summer, freezing in the winter – apparently all the lakes freeze over so that you can skate. my first day was spent in Jinghan Park – a park close to the famous forbidden city (palace) which apparently in Feng shui protected the palace from evil spirits. it was a lovely start to my trip, a gentle walk in a park on a Sunday, with its temples climbing up to the peak with a view over Beijing – the top temple housing a giant gold buddha. I love that young and old congregate in the parks – partaking in tai chi, or a traditional dance and a song, playing cards, or exercising – there were definitely more old than young…. a short walk away is Houhai lakes – a bit more touristy, its a series of lakes with boats that you can hire surrounded by restaurants and bars and shops. a few of the shops were worth visiting, a lovely kite shop, a museum shop selling beautiful ceramics… its a pleasant evening place to visit where you can get a bite to eat. the downside for me going at this time, is that it seemed most of china was in Beijing enjoying the national holiday, so ideally this is a time to avoid, but we took this in our stride as it was our only time together.