Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Day at the Park

After a lunch that included a big dessert (an ice shaved mountain drizzled with condensed milk topped with big black tapioca pearls and beans), my friend took me to a park just south of the Forbidden City to walk the calories off.

It was a nice warm day and luckily the park wasn't too crowded. It's called Jingshan Park and used to be a garden for the emperor. There's a big hill in the middle and according to my guidebook, it was created from the dirt leftover from digging the moat around the palace. On top of it is a small Buddhist temple that has a fantastic view overlooking Beijing.

The climb up isn't too arduous, with a pavilion in the east and another in the west along the way giving visitors an opportunity catch their breath.

The top was swarming with visitors taking pictures of the yellow-tiled roofs in the palace and beyond them red flags flying on the State buildings on Chang'an Avenue. The National Grand Theater, or The Egg, is also visible, a giant dome that looks incongruous with the boxy buildings to its left.

In the south there are views of Beihai and a bit further south west is Houhai.

Beside the views, there were many opportunities to do some people watching at the park. An elderly couple were dressed in imperial clothing like an emperor and empress for a portrait; a casual trombone and saxophone group played some tunes to curious onlookers; and a singing teacher armed with his accordion accompanied a group of female singers.

The park also has a peony garden which already has buds sprouting out. I'll have to come back in about a month and hopefully see these gorgeous flowers in bloom.

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