Beijing Day 3

After some restful sleep, we were ready to hit the streets running for Day 3 in Beijing. Leila, Nathan, Lina and I had a whirlwind day of hitting up sites around the city.  6 hours of walking and 10km later,  I think I gained a whole new appreciation for this city.  The previous days were spent in the predominantly westernized areas of Beijing.  Today we got to see some of the real Beijing.  The day went something like this:

Lama Temple  is the Palace of Peace and Harmony.  It is a Tibetan style Buddhist temple in the northeastern portion of the city.  It was full of breathtaking architecture, cultural artifacts and incredible people watching.  It was extremely packed with people, which only added to the excitement of this place. It was filled with the smoke from incense where people were offering their prayers to Buddha. While some might think prayer is a peaceful experience, this was anything but that. The scene was chaotic.  Thousands of buddhist and tourist alike wielding flaming incense sticks as they offer prayer.   Even Leila and Nathan jumped in to the experience. But even with this chaotic scene, it was such an amazing experience to be a part of. This was my first time in a Buddhist temple and it was a memorable one.

Hutongs – Hutongs are alleys in Beijing which was how most of the city lived prior to the tall skyscrapers. Some of them have been around for a 1000 years. The Hutongs are being razed by the government with the hope of providing  more modern living quarters.  However, there are some that are being restored for tourism.  You sort of find yourself in a time where there are still the traditional alleys with the locals living as they have for 100′s of years, alleys transformed into tourist shopping strips and razed hutongs ready for massive new buildings. All of this is within a few blocks of each other.  The Hutongs are filled with housing and shops along skinny little alleys. From furniture to culinary toads, these little alleys had it all.  Some of the memorable stops were a food market, pet bird store and my favorite : a local restaurant which Nathan dubbed “Grandma’s Restaurant”.  The food was amazing.  We had spicy green beans, cabbage , eggplant and beef and cabbage dish served in a spicy broth.  I believe it was my favorite meal in Beijing yet.  This was a place where I feel like I got to really experience Beijing life.

We also got to visit the Northern Lakes call Huo Hai , which is a bustling area along the lakes. The Huo Hai is little tourist enclave (foreigners and chinese alike) with Bars and Restaurants lining 3 lakes. I can only imagine what this place looks like in the summer.

After all of this, we made it back to Nathan’s for a home cooked (and delicious!) Lasagna meal courtesy of Leila.  We passed out shortly afterward. What a day!

I hope you all enjoy the photos.

Click here for the slideshow