Monday, October 18, 2010

Walking where emperors walked - Xiangshan park

Hello friends,

It's been two weeks since my last update, which can only be explained by the fact that all of the sudden life is taking over. Instead of sightseeing (or wishing you had time to do sightseeing), our weekends and weekdays are now all filled by school, work, (Chinese) study, birthday parties, grocery-shopping, and other mundane tasks. Much like our life in DC really.

Nonetheless, today I have for you some photos from a recent trip I took to Xiangshan park, which is also called "Fragrant Hills". (For once, I find the Chinese name easier than the English name, as "fragrant" really does not roll of my tongue easily.) It's a park on the west side of Beijing, and I found it to be some sort of weird cross-over between a city park (there were lots of paths, flowers, and man-made streams, ponds and buildings) and a hike up the mountains. It really was pretty beautiful, if you could manage to see it while hiking up hill among about a couple hundred other people doing the same :-)

As I was checking the Wikipedia page about the park, I realized I actually missed tons of buildings during our hike! I suppose next time I better check Wikipedia before I leave, so at least I know what to look for :-). The park was built (and rebuilt and rebuilt) various times for different emperors, and also severely damaged a couple times (in 1860 and 1900) by foreign troups. I suppose that explains why I didn't think the few buildings I did manage to see looked all that great. In any case, I went to see the park with a group of parents from Simon and Thomas' school, and we had a great time climbing the hill and then rushing back down again to catch the bus back to school.

Here are some pictures.

On the way up, we saw this man fold animals out of a long leaf. One of those dragons -- slightly more yellow and dried out -- is currently hanging out in our living room.

At the top, people were taking pictures...

...and tying red ribbons to the trees. (Presumably some sign of making it to the top? I don't really know.)

I didn't tie a ribbon, but I did make it to the top! Careful observers might notice a certain dragon in this picture.

On the way back I had a delicious drink of yoghurt. It was sweetened yoghurt, which you just drink with a straw from the cups shown here. And when you are done, you simply leave the cup in the recycling bin! :-)

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