An interesting thing about Beijing is that no matter where you may be, there is an oasis of relative tranquility nearby. The neighbourhood around the Jianguo Hotel is a good example.
The hotel is located directly on Beijing’s main thoroughfare, Jianguomenwai Da Jie. The 8 lane “street” bisects the city on the east/west axis. Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City are smack in the middle while our hotel lies about 5 km to the west. Five kilometers =40 minutes travel time in this car-loving city (I read in the China Daily yesterday that an average of 1,900 new cars are sold every day in the City!).
All along Jianguomenwai are huge skyscrapers. Yeah, huge. The footprint of one of these complexes would approximate the same footprint made by all of the towers on Ottawa’s Queen Street.
And it’s crazy busy. Tens of thousands of bikes, cars, trucks, buses and bodies. You have to see it to believe it. And you have to be VERY careful crossing the street. Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way and a car will NOT stop for you. Ever. Picture Stephen King’s “Christine”. Now picture 10,000 Audis, Mercedes, rickshaws, motorcycles and bikes. Get the image?
But away from all of this is a little place called Ritan Park within which is the temple of the Sun. I was commenting to a colleague on the weekend about the lack of children in the area. Well, I found them. They were all at the park playing games or spending a quiet Sunday afternoon with their parents or grandparents.
There were old men playing cards or some ilk of a checkers game. Others were playing musical instruments and others were practicing Tai Chi. All very refreshing for the mind and the mood.
Oh, and the last one is for Torii.