Saturday, August 4, 2012

On My Bike

Satisfying day cycling around Beijing's southern hutongs and a couple of parks I'd not been to before. But first, find a bicycle repairman - or in this case, woman - to mend that puncture. Then off to the Beijing Ancient Observatory, one of the world's earliest, founded in around 1442. It's now a modest museum, set into and around the remains of the old Walls. There are various bronze astronomical instruments, armillary spheres and sundials dotted around, and in one of the three galleries is a photo of a visiting Tony Blair. He's got that silly grin on. Why he ever went here I'll never know.
Continued along to a corner section of the Wall which has a huge watchtower, within which is the Red Gate Gallery. It's an odd but impressive location for what is China's very first privately-run gallery, set up by Australian Brian Wallace in 1991. Before that, he had organised exhibitions in other exotic locations, including the Observatory I'd just been to. A mildly interesting exhibition of Chinese contemporary art was on show.
I then cycled through the Chongwen hutongs, eventually emerging by Tiananmen Square. It felt strange pedalling around this massive, open, history-laden place; years ago it would have been pretty much all bicycles but now it's cars cars cars. I came here to explore two parks, in-between the Square and the Forbidden City. Most people walk straight between them on their way to the FC, missing them altogether. Zhongshan Park, on the left, is a large pleasantly laid out affair with a temple dedicated to Sun Yat Sen in the middle, as well as the Forbidden City Concert Hall and a curiously small and archaic looking bumper car rink. And to the right is the park of the Workers Cultural Palace, again with an impressive (even larger) temple in the middle and a lot of very old cypress trees.

1 comment:

  1. I do a lot of traveling with my bike, and I'm always surprised at the neat places I find because I'm riding. I was in China a couple years ago - crowded, but a great place to ride!