Summer Palace - Ditan Temple Fair
27.01.2011 - 14.03.2011 11 °C
We've had a real blast in Beijing, we hope that theres more great times ahead.
Heading off to Harbin tomorrow which is located further north and alot more freezing then here.
Yesterday we went to the Summer Palace.
For some reason we couldn't find any information on how to get there besides getting a cab or a bus, but you can get off at Xiyuan station and walk 10 mins west. I assumed that this place would've looked better during Summer or Spring than in the bitter winter. The sun dissapeared behind the clouds, the skies turned grey as we ventured around Kunming Lake. We didn't get too far until we discovered an area where we could jump down to walk on the icy lake. I don't know wether this was a good thing or not, It probably took us longer to slip and slide our way across then to actually stop and visit the sites. Nevertheless we still continued to head to the other side.
You could probably spend a whole day there, the kind of day you would bring snags to have a bbq... but in china you would bring tea and noodles.
After crossing the lake we realised we missed most of the sites so we took another route and found more temples. You can go in to some of the halls and see their ancient costumes, jewellery and other intricate work, so it shows a fair bit of history than the other places we went to. We also managed to see the, 'Tower of the Fragrance of the Buddha' haha.The iconic Octagonal tower watches over the rest of the palace and stands over 41 meters high.
On the way home we decided to visit the Hutongs, most of them were destroyed to make rooms for the new beijing but a few are still scattered around the city. Hutongs are long narrow small roads where Beijingers use to live. The place is like a maze and got kind lost until we saw train station signs again.
As it was Lunar Eve, we could already hear the firecrackers and smell the sulphur in the air. Even though we'd been hearing fireworks since we got here. We decided to head back and relax before the partying began.
It was nearing 10pm so we thought we would head out and celebrate the welcoming of the year of the rabbit.
Looking out from the Hotel we could see fireworks from all over the city.
We'd been asking around and eventually decided on Sanlitun St. Apparently this was where all the nightlife was at...and where all the foreigners went.
We thought we would buy some fireworks since it was the season to do so. We didn't have a place in mind but ended up in a place where there was drunk chinese girls dancing. We stayed because Luke bought 6 beers for 60RMB or $10AUD. I drank a couple more cocktails and soon it was go go gadget. Met a couple of expats and ended up hangout with them for the rest of the night. We had to go back to the Hotel to get more money and seemed it had just turned midnight as the whole city felt like a psychedelic warzone. Which ever direction you looked there was fireworks going nuts.
It was probably the best taxi ride of my life! Going down the streets and seeing all different types of fireworks lighting up the sky. Sometimes people would just put them near the road so it would go off infront of cars. It was awesome.
Headed back to Sanlitun to continue down the street. I couldn't remember the name. Gentle, the Nigrian guy who we had met took us to a club where they were serving free drinks till 5am. You can imagine how packed the bar was while the two bartenders casually poured the drinks to the random chosen.Trying to get a drink almost turned out to be a big fail until some guy had helped me get my long island ice tea. I thought it would be watery like their beer, but it did not disappoint.
Now I don't want to sound racist or anything, but as I was absorbing the atmosphere I noticed that over half the people were black. It was not because they were black, it was because we were in a black club in beijing celebrating chinese new year that it hit me, I am wasted!
Needing some air, we took a break and went outside. It was probably below 0 but couldn't feel a thing. Right out the front door they were exploding dozen of fire crackers, we found everything hilarious at that stage. Maybe someone spiked our drink, who knows... all we knew was that we were having the time of our life.
It was getting late, 6am to be exact. We still had plenty of things to do the next day, so we decided to head off. We thought a taxi would be hard to come by, but good ol Beijing is plentiful with them. As we were getting in, three black guys start running towards us liked a crazed maniacs calling out "taxi taxi". The driver spoke his chinese words which we interpreted, "hurry the hell up and close the door". So we slammed the door and watch the three men disappear into the early morning.
We woke up 1pm today. Dammit! Missed out on the Temple of Heaven.
We decided to go to Ditan Park Temple Fair while it was still light. These fairs are always held during the spring festival, and are pretty much what you would expect any fair to look like. They must been really keen on that Angry Birds app as there was stuffed toys of them everywhere. One place offered a scarf beanie for 80RMB and didn't want to bargain, but when I went to another person, she was selling them for 35RMB for the same scarf. pffft
Damn you two currency system!!!
We were hungry and decided to eat somewhere nice. There was restaurant near our Hotel called Da Dong which serves Peking Duck so it sounded like the best option. The chefs in the middle were surrounded by roasting ovens on each corner and a koi pond around them made a nice setting. They carved up the duck infront of us and we wrapped it in our little pancakes. During this time, a lot of restaurants give you small little red envelops which are gifts. I think mainly they are for money, but we got fresh fruit and fairy floss. It was a lovely.
After dinner we remembered we still had our fireworks from the night before. We went into the street near our hotel and lit them up. It was a fitting way to end our stay in Beijing.