Bad air; part trois

More smoggy air greeted us on the morning of October 7th. The temperature was pleasant but it would be nice to see the sun.

We started our day by checking out the local market near Lucille and Curtis’s apartment. I don’t remember what they were looking for but it was a pretty varied market.

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Unlike them, I found something to buy. Now I had something to carry, luckily, we were heading back to the apartment before we went for an early lunch.

The market was located along the river so it was a nice relaxing walk to and from.

There was a lot of activity along the river. People were exercising, others were set up to cut hair and I think there were even some dentists there as well.

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A hairdresser in the park gets her tools ready for customers

As we headed back to the apartment I took some photos of Lucille and Curtis’s neighbourhood.

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Zoom zoom

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The new location for Tonic – Lucille and Curtis’s apartment in the background.

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Note the stairs

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Original Tonic just across the street from the apartment – stairs to balcony missing.

After we dropped of my parcel we headed over to the mall for lunch at Element Fresh.

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The tan coloured bricks are for the blind. Good luck following it.

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Just a little tight

We arrived at the mall.

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The mall wasn’t very busy but it was way busier than Element Fresh was.

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Lucille and Curtis said they weren’t all that hungry so they had something small (I got their olives)

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Their lunch

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My lunch

Since it was just lunch time and I was starving I decided on an omelette. It was delicious.

Lunch finished, we took the subway and bus to Beihai Park.

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Bicycle lane

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On the bus

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Funny looking Beemers.

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Beihai Park is a former Imperial park located just northwest of the Forbidden City. (I didn’t know that while I was there as we used the subway so much I hardly ever knew what direction I was facing).

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Beihai Park surrounds a good size lake and there was a lot of activity on and around the lake.

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Boats for rent

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All my ducks in a row

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The White Dagoba

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We walked around the park finding things to look at. We found the 9 dragon wall. I’m not sure what it’s all about but it was pretty cool.

DSC018429 Dragon Wall Panaorama

As we walked we found a nice quiet little area.

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It was quiet as apparently we weren’t supposed to be in it. We saw a few people working in an office and no one seemed to concerned about us but we saw a Chinese couple get chased away from the same area. We went down to the lake to blend in.

Soon we  were walking through the beautiful Five-Dragon Pavilions.

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I think I found the Ogopogo.

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Came across an interesting diorama.

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We finally made it to the west side of the lake.

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Fall colour

Two thirds of the way down the west side of the lake is a water taxi to the island. As we walked along we realized we’d have to take the taxi or walk all the way back as the park ended. Taxi it is.

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The White Dagoba on the island.

The taxi holds about 16 people and once enough people are there, you board and go. The route to the island is a straight line of about 1/2 a kilometer or so and our driver made it seem like we had the right of way. As we were leaving the dock he bumped into a rental row boat as the people in it were putting their oars in the locks and almost threw the lady in the lake. On the way across; not one but 2 boats had to change course so not to hit us. When we got to the island we bumped into another rowboat that was apparently in our way.

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Our “menace to society” water taxi driver

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This family dodged death

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Our taxi leaving the island

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Maybe the visibility was the problem

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Dodged the rowboat on his way back

We walked around the base of the island for a bit.

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Soon it was time to head up to the top of the hill.

Oh look; stairs.

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We aren’t at the top yet but at least it’s flat.

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That is a lot of prayers

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I guess that could be talking politics

More, steep stairs to the top.

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I suspect that the view from the top can be stunning, not so much today though.

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I love how the roof tiles are in different colours.

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Seemed bigger from down at the lake

As we walked around the top of the hill I notice the really cool looking trees. The bark looked like it was some kind of birch tree with a puzzle pattern to it. I thought they were beautiful and judging by how many of them are propped up with steel poles they must hold some significance.

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Since I couldn’t just stare at the trees all day it was time to start making our way back down the hill. We took a different route back down the hill and found a few interesting things.

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Roof detail

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The gate to nowhere

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Not sure what it is but he looks happy

It was time to say goodbye to Beihai.

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Leaving the park

We walked through a hutong on our to our next stop.

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Soon we were at Jingshan Park.

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Jingshan Park is due north of The Forbidden City.

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Another celebration of the end of WWII

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The gate by the west side entrance

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I liked the colour of the reflection

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A walk in the garden

Jingshan is one of the smaller parks we’d been to at only 57 acres but the amount of gardens in it is stunning. In the spring or summer it would be well worth the 2 RMB admission.

Found an interesting piece of art.

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It was quite big so….

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We found the spot where the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty hung himself in 1644. Amazingly, there was no tree there.

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We continued our walk through the gardens. I might not be seeing any fall colour but at least the flowers are still around.

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By this time we had made our way to the south entrance.

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The Forbidden City’s north gate from inside Jingshan through the south gate

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Looking up Prospect Hill

It was time to climb the 150 foot hill to see what we could see. More stairs. I didn’t take any photos of the stairs – you seen 1000 stair; you’ve seen them all.

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North gate of the Forbidden City from the top of Prospect Hill

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Forbidden City Panorama from the top of Prospect Hill

With all the smog The Forbidden City didn’t look anywhere near the size it is. I checked other directions to see if visibility was any better. (It wasn’t)

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Zooming in made it worse

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Upped the contrast to see if it helped

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Beihai is hard to see and it isn’t very far

So visibility sucked in all directions.

There are 5 peaks to Prospect Hill and the building were hard to photograph so I took pictures of a few of the plaques.

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We started down the hill on the west side and I still like the look of the trees.

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As we got near the bottom of the hill we saw another interesting sign.

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By now it was getting to be late afternoon so we headed out of the park to go in search of food.

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Would be easier to park in the lot to recharge

We walked through another hutong. I really liked walking through the hutongs as you got to see people going about their lives without a care of who was around.

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Across from a school. Their yard was paved – not a blade of grass to play on

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Suspicious characters eyeing up the bicycles

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Supper was at Yaodianzi Sichuan Restaurant. I didn’t take any photo of the food but it was pretty good. The shredded potatoes tasted like hot chips. It was good and spicy food.

Once we got home we played a round of Chinese Checkers on the board game I’d made a few years ago for Christmas presents. I was pretty happy to win.

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Lucille looks impressed

We turned the board over and played a couple games of Aggravation – I lost both. (That 1 game of Chinese Checkers would be my only glory during game nights).

By now it was bedtime. Tomorrow Curtis would be going back to work so Lucille and I would be without our tour guide. We’d done 21193 stairs; I mean steps today.  Not bad at all.

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