Nationalities Park (Ethnic Culture Park)
Nice way to spend a day in Beijing provided you have extra time on your hands and you've already seen all other major spots of interest. This park is a kind of reader's digest for China and its diversity; sort of a quick info. What you'll get is a visit to very nicely arranged park area with examples of China's nationalities architecture/dwellings and if your timing is right you can also enjoy sing and dance performances typical for a given nationality. Some of the structures looked almost genuine while some had that plastic feel to them. I would have liked to see more information on every particular nationality instead of very modest information on the boards in front of their areas.
The park is divided into two areas and you can choose to visit only one or both and you pay entrance fee accordingly. There aren't many places to rest or have a snack so don't plan to have a nice meal inside the park. I found a place that only served Korean style dumplings. Also, avoid public holidays or weekends as it can get pretty crowded and noisy. Nice place to take your kids to.
Opposite the northern gate of the Palace Museum is Jingshan (hill of commanding views) Park. Covering a space of 23 hectares, this park was once an imperial garden during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) and was open to the public now. The Jingshan Hill, situated on the meridian line of the city of Beijing, Provides a panoramic view of the capital.
In Zhongsan Park, there's a grove of cypresses with trees said to have been planted in the Liao Dynasty. Seven of the trees are so large that it takes three to four persons with arms outstretched to encircle the trunk.
Strolling along this park gives you a wonderful experience. It is a beautiful park adorned with pretty tulip flowers. Entering through the main southern entrance, one comes to a large vestibular pavilion with long corridors running off to the east and west. In front of the pavilion is a white marble memorial archway. To the east stands a beautiful specimen of Taihu Lake stone. There is a peony pond, a wisteria arbor and, to the north, a grove of cypresses with trees said to have been planted in the Liao Dynasty. Seven of the trees are so large that it takes three to four persons with arms outstretched to encircle the trunk.
Ba Da Chu park have a long history which is a Buddha temple park. It locate at the west mountain in Beijing. There are eight antiqued architectures what make the park famous. In addition, "twelve landscapes" are nature view what give the park beautiful environment. The temples in the park were first built in Sui dynasty. One of the temples called Lingguang sacrifice Buddhist relics of Sakyamuni. However, the temples was destroyed in 1900 by invaders. Today, Ba Da Chu Park is one of the most popular parks in Beijing. Especially in fall, it is the most beautiful season where worth while visiting.
Just southeast of the Forbidden City lies Changpu River Park.
This park is an absolute lifesaver with it's water and beautiful landsacape and trees. It provides shade and rest on hot days as well as a welcome escape from the city streets.
It is a small narrow park, but it is really beautiful and very quiet and there is not many people considering it's central position.
The Coal Hill Park lies right to the north of the Forbidden City, formerly a private garden for the Imperial Family. Since coal was heaped out of the foot of the hill it was always known as Coal Hill.
Another interesting activity you will find in parks and gardens like the ones mentioned above but also around the summer palace or within tiny local greens in residential areas are some "Outdoor Fitness Studios". They are a mixture of playgrounds for kids and muscle training machines for adults and they are commonly frequented by guys and ladies of all ages. Usually people dont wear sports clothes and just practise a little bit in their every day wear. The funny thing is that mostly faces look quite unmotivated and you are not sure if the person is doing these activities for fun, for muscles, for boredom or just because he she happened to pass by.
However, I found that sports is a good activity to start a conversation with people. When you watch two people in a park playing Badminton or another ball game, it might happen easily that they ask you to join or try it for a few minutes. Also in these muscle-playgrounds it is easy to get to know some local persons.
You are in a park. You hear some music. You walk to where the sounds are coming from. You notice that there are several groups of people playing different kinds of music and they are all sitting close to each other. The result is an interesting (dis-harmonic) symphony of Er-Hus (traditional Chinese instrument), old ladies singing opera songs, men drumming and some playing violin. But it is very cute to watch that they like to stay with other people to share their music and to not be alone. So they prefer a mixture of sounds. It is incredible how much joy is radiating out of many peoples eyes - despite the rollercoaster Chinese history many of them have gone through. If you find skilled players, an Er-Hu concert can really be a treat. For these music "performances" on the week-ends, I found the park at the "Temple of Heaven" south of Tian an men a good place.
The garden is built according to a famous Chinese classic novel -- A Dream of Red Mansions. It's about a tragic love story between Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu in Qing Dynasty. It also has a reputation as the eastern version of Romio and Juliet.
Please see more photos in my photo album.
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