September 2018. It was a warm, lightly smoggy morning in Beijing and I was staying with my old friend Temperance in Chaoyang district. I had quite the day planned, with a hit list that included stops at Galaxy SOHO Mall, Tiananmen Square and Friends Café. But before all that I decided to kick off the day with a stroll around Chaoyang Park, which was right on my doorstep just across the road from Temperance’s apartment. The poor girl had to work, so it was just my thoughts and I as I entered Beijing’s largest public park through the north gate.
September 2018. Think of all the world’s great capitals and their big parks are household names: take London’s Hyde Park, New York’s Central Park and Madrid’s Retiro Park. But for some reason Chaoyang Park doesn’t really register, despite Beijing’s giant strides in recent years as a heavyweight world capital. Indeed I found my morning walk to be a very understated affair with very few people about and little going on other than the great natural beauty on offer. Which suited me just fine! This shot was taken during my walk through the park’s Ecological Valley.
September 2018. Aside from the odd jogger and wandering couple it was eerily quiet that morning. The few souvenir shops, snack stalls and fairground rides I came across were all closed. I did stumble upon this cheeky family stealing sour apples from the trees. They weren’t messing around either, with about 3-4 plastic bags between them. That’s the grandmother up in one of the trees!
September 2018. The park’s centerpiece is Lotus Lake: undeniably beautiful even in the smog and home to Zhongxin Island Theater, a 5000 capacity arena that holds traditional live events like opera and dance. You can also boat on the lake in a variety of vessels for a range of prices. The cheapest option is a four-person pedal boat for 50RMB an hour (£5.60/€6.20/$7.30). The photographer dude pictured became very chatty when he saw me and (bizarrely) spent some time complimenting me on my wildly inferior Sony Cybershot camera. He got even more excited upon discovering I was from London, waving his cigarette in my face and chattering excitedly about The Queen. He then started asking me questions about English cheese, but my Chinese wasn’t good enough to grasp what he was on about.
September 2018. Chaoyang Park (also referred to as Sun Park) is open daily from 06:00-22:00. To see it at its liveliest come on weekends, or for an evening stroll at around sunset. Entrance is 5RMB (£0.55/€0.60/$0.72). The park is served by a number of subway stations, including Zaoying, Chaoyang Park and Jintailu, all on Line 14.
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