© 2010 notworkrelated - David Rutter & Helen Roscoe. All rights reserved. notworkrelated Beijing2

China – Beijing – 9th-11th November

Posting a blog post everyday which involves writing a mini diary and editing through copious amounts of photos takes up lots of time. Therefore we have decided that as we are a few weeks behind we are going to try and condense the posts into multiple days. Also here in China we have access to most websites that we need for general use, however there is no Twitter or Facebook, so we will be very quiet on these social networks until we leave China in early 2011.

So here we go…on our second day in Beijing we were on a mission to find out about trips and local sights aside from the more obvious ones. We obtained a street map from Templeside that gave us pretty good bearings on where we were located plus Frank had informed us of the nearest tube stops, bus stops and the like. What we didn’t really think about was the distance it takes to get from one block to another on foot. We had intended to go to the China Cultural Centre (CCC) to find out about trips and cooking classes on offer but several tube stops later, one taxi journey and a walk 20 minutes in the wrong direction we redirected to 798. We had intended to visit the 798 Art district early on in our visit here anyway so it wasn’t too much of a change of plan.

Although we feel that the many art critics and cynics out there would refer to 798 as art tourism, it still offers an eclectic mix of contemporary art and culture that isn’t so apparent anywhere else in the city. 798 is an old factory complex that has been renovated into around 70 or so art spaces, galleries, studios, cafes, quirky gift shops and restaurants. We thought it was pretty cool, although perhaps not all of the art on show is to our taste and perhaps some is trend for trends sake it does take you away from more traditional aspects of Chinese art and culture and perhaps brings it more inline with the graffiti lined walls of Berlin city. We do love Berlin though so that one is always going to be tough to beat!! But in our minds it did the trick and we quickly forgot about the directionless walk around the city. We picked up a mandarin phrase book which we think will come in very handy indeed whilst we are in China and we photographed buildings, spaces and art on show. (Copyright isn’t really an issue here as you can pretty much photograph any piece of art on show). The photography gallery showcased some interesting compilation work and we liked the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, although it seemed much of the space was closed off for an event. We did manage to find our way back to our new home that evening and cooked ourselves our first meal in the Hutong.

The next day we decided to stay a little more local and our first port of call was to visit the Peking International Youth Hostel. Helen was determined to pick up some information from a hostel and we also wanted to print out some information and directions to show taxi drivers. As a general rule they wont stop to listen to where you want to go but will look at the map or if you have where you want to go in Chinese written down bingo you’re in luck! Sometimes even if you speak Chinese but look western they wont listen!! So with that in mind we had some printing to do and our reason for going to the hostel was that we feel by being in the apartment, yes it’s great because we are in with a local community but you don’t really get to meet other travelers or get the best kind of advice. So if you can find out where the nearest YHA is often they will have the info and the passing travelers to meet!! We went away with our print outs, some info on tours and enjoyed an amazing ginger honey tea!!

Within walking distance of the YHA is Beihai Park. It costs around £2.5 to get in and there are a few temples and pagodas in the park. It was a really sunny day and the sky was pretty blue so the white pagoda on the top of the hill really did shine. It was a really enjoyable walk up through the temples and to the top where you have views across the Forbidden City, Beihai lake and beyond. We spent the best part of the day here and also came across the Chrysanthemum exhibition. Something of an anticlimax but it did offer some great photographic opportunities and the low afternoon light was perfect for this.

On our third morning at the penthouse apartment (he he) we ventured to the very local farmers market to pick up some fruit and veg and to generally take in the atmosphere that contains the place. The market sells not only fruit and veg supplies but household cleaning products, gas cookers, bikes, meat, fish, tea and clothes, alongside which was street vendors selling food to eat there and then or noodles to cook, meat off the bone and so on. It’s a very local place and it was loads of fun buying our grocery shopping. We were amazed at how cheap the fresh fruit and veg is to buy. for less than 20 pence we bought a bulb of garlic, one green pepper and two chili peppers…they have money that looks more like monopoly money for values under 1 yuan. We were moaned at for only buying 1 or 2 of any item. Still we went away filling our fridge with good quality fresh food. We explored the local hutong further before heading back for more catch up time on editing.

(Leica M9, Summicron-M 50mm f2.0 & Olympus PEN, 17mm f2.8 & 100mm f2.8, processed in Lightroom 3)

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One Comment

  1. Shimul Haider
    Posted 6 Dec ’10 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely stunning images – the colours are incredible and I love the candid shots of people and poodles!
    Is this the work of the Leica camera?
    What an amazing synopsis of your trip so far.
    Can’t wait for the rest …. it’s bookmarked as my favourites now.

    Keep up the good work, enjoy and safe travels.

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