Eek! Sure has been a while since I last updated, hasn’t it? The internet in my hostel is super unreliable, so today I hightailed it over to Sanlitun to soak up some free, air-conditioned wifi. Sanlitun is (have I said this already?) an area in the eastern part of Beijing that’s popular among foreigners. Cue montage of Shit White People Like: a giant Apple store, bars that serve Guinness, an Italian restaurant with live jazz, etc.
Here I am, laughing with a blond woman:
￼ A kindly forest gnome sold me bottled tea out of his Mario-esque tree shop: ￼
At Queen’s Cafe in Sanlitun, you can eat a lot of tiny cakes or one large cake: ￼
Sometime (yesterday? last week? it’s really all the same when you have 0 jobs & 0 classes taking up headspace) I walked north from my hostel to the Yonghe Temple, drawn by rumors of a mega-giant, award-winning statue of Buddha. I wasn’t wrong! ￼
Not the best quality picture, but can you tell how massive this statue is? 18 meters, to be exact, & carved from a single piece of white sandalwood! He’s in the Guinness Book of World Records, y’all! ￼
The temple had a number of these pavilions, each with smaller statues of figures important in Tibetan Buddhism. In front of each pavilion there were areas set up for prayer & offerings, complete with burning charcoal fires to light your incense & cushions to kneel on. I didn’t partake in that aspect of the temple, but did enjoy reading about Tibetan Buddhism in some of the pavilions that were more museum-y than shrine-y. The whole area had a calming energy to it, & the smell of incense smoke was everywhere. Once I walked deep enough into the temple grounds, I couldn’t even hear the Beijing traffic. There’s a power to be felt in the hustle ‘n’ bustle of a giant supercity boasting a population of 22 million, but sometimes all I want is some peace & quiet & giant protective metal lions: ￼
More protectors, this time at the Jingshan Park, directly north of the Forbidden City:
￼ Looks suspiciously like Tiny World, am I right? With a lil m~g*ck BIOWOM leading an army of LITTLE ZOOPY EVILS!!! The ultimate pro Smegs.
Jingshan Park is AWESOME, by the way. I went there randomly for lack of anything better to do, not expecting much. Turns out, it’s well known for having the best view of the city. How? Beijing is flat as a board & the air quality’s so bad you can’t ever see more than a few blocks in any direction. Luck was with me though, y’all. I ended up in the park, at the top of one of the only hills in the city, on a day of rare visibility & low humidity!
Those are mountains, off to the west. I hear Beijing gets sandstorms sometimes, & winds whip sand all the way from the Gobi Desert, across those mountains.
This was my first time seeing the Beijing skyline.
I also went spelunking? I guess? I dunno. If you paid 2rmb you could walk through a small network of caves built into the side of the hill I stood atop earlier. I…don’t know if these caves were naturally occurring or what, but I do know they were terrifying. It was dead quiet & I was the only person in there. Well, almost the only person…
Hundreds of lil warrior statues watched me grow more & more distraught until I stumbled back out into the heat & sunlight of the Overworld. I got the hell outta there & walked on over to Beihai Lake, where happy families puttered around in tugboats, completely unaware of the underground army that had nearly claimed my soul.
I’m really enjoying it here, y’all. I’m not about to get trite & sappy, or pretend I understand everything about this city & the people who live here, or deny that I get bored & homesick & lost sometimes, but I *will* say that I’m happy I moved here. Maybe it’s the giant iced coffee I’ve been guzzling while writing this, or the fact that I recently bought a phone all by myself, or the Dinosaur Jr. album I’m blasting in my headphones, but I’m feeling pretty safe & confident right now. And it’s only going to get better! Because:
My job starts next week. Summer camp!
I’ve found someone foolish enough to agree to live with me & we’ll start hunting for an apartment soon!
I’m gonna buy a bike! Can’t wait to fly around this city, eating jian bing & taking pictures!