Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shichahai District

During the week I spent in China for work, we stayed in Shichahai, which happens to be a famous scenic spot in Beijing. Just outside our doorstep were 3 lakes surrounded by shops, food stalls, craft vendors, bars, and restaurants. The lakes provided the perfect area for a morning run and for an evening stroll. There was always something happening and it was a great place to watch the Chinese go about their daily lives, as it was very rare for us to see a non-Chinese person in this area unless it was someone in our traveling group!
This spot was just a minute or so walk from our accommodation!
Sunset on the lake
A "regular" performer on the lake. We saw him several times, working out to music with crowds watching.
The lakes were a popular place to be during the day and at night.
Nighttime iPhone shot!
Surrounding the lake there were scattered pieces of exercise equipment where we would often see Chinese people exercising, and sometimes we would join in ourselves!

Who needs a foam roller?!
The Shichahai District is a popular one for rickshaws. A rickshaw is basically a bicycle with a carriage-type thing on the back that can seat 2 people. Often they are used for tours, but they can also be used as a mode of transport. On the tour, rickshaws will take people around the lakes and also through the hutongs, which are basically alleyways with shops and restaurants. Apparently most hutongs used to be made up of family homes, but many homeowners decided to sell their homes in these prime locations to businesses wanting to earn money.
Lined up and ready to go for the next group of tours...
...and they are off!

Walking through one of the hutongs in Shichahai.
There was an open square-type area next to one of the lakes where there was always something interesting going on, particularly at night. One night we returned to a large group of locals playing hacky sack and they were insisting that we join in on the fun. On the last day we indulged in massages on the square overlooking the lake. Our 15 minute massages cost about $3.

I think we were extremely fortunate to have stayed where we did for this work trip, given all of the cool things to do within walking distance of our accommodation. Mixing in with the locals provided us with a chance to see the "real Beijing", as opposed to the crowds we saw at some other more traditionally touristy places during our time in China.
Enjoying some gelati on our walk back to the sports school!

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