I’ve been back from Harbin for a good week now, and the Beijing weather which we considered to be so cold before is now feeling nice and warm in comparison to last week! The air has been fairly clear of late, although it currently seems to be turning a turn for the more smoggy – the current state of air quality is a common point of conversation among our group, and is usually measured by the visibility of the building which stands around 200/300m from the window of our flat.
So making the most of the free time and nice weather last week, we headed into the city centre to Jingshan Park (景山) and Beihai Park (北海 – meaning “northern sea”). There is a long north-south axis cutting through Beijing (with the Olympic Park at the northern end and the Temple of Heaven park at the south), and Jingshan Park is situated immediately north of the Forbidden City. Beijing being a totally flat city, the views from the top of the artificial hill in the park are amazing (and really, on a clear day, they are amazing, and you really get a sense of the sprawling mass of urban area). The skyscrapers extend as far as the eye can see in every direction, and you get a good idea of the city’s overall layout. The view over the Forbidden City’s roofing is definitely the highlight, though. It was here on this hill that the Chongzhen Emperor hung himself from a tree at the downfall of the Ming Dynasty. Right next to Jingshan Park is Beihai Park, a former imperial palace, with lots of pavilions, a large lake (which gives it the name Beihai) and all sorts of other Chinese things. They’re both pretty nice places, but Jingshan is definitely more impressive with its views – you often forget that the Beijing scenery sometimes does have a certain charm about it at times.
My classmates have now arrived back in China and we’re back into the grind of routine at the university (with 4 exams this week, hence the fact I haven’t got round to writing anything this week). An exciting activity coming up is this Friday: we’re going skiing! Nanshan is a resort to the north of Beijing and claims to be the best resort in China (although, of course, this claim would be held by quite a few resorts). I’ve never been skiing before, so I’ll be taught by some of the others and hopefully it’ll be great. None of us are really sure what a Chinese ski resort is like, but we’ll see.
I’ll keep everything posted up on here in the next week or so, providing the Internet in our flat doesn’t keep on throwing tantrums like it has done this week. Since I have to connect to WordPress with a VPN (which is basically by-passing the Chinese internet censorship, because it doesn’t like blogging), the connection is painfully slow so I’ll at some time get round to putting pictures up on the posts.