It's been a reasonably quiet month as I settled into the job and neighborhood a little more. I did walk to the Lama Temple to take photos one morning but otherwise have avoided exploring overly much as the air hasn't looked very inviting.
My first guest helped me sort out what I need to be an adequate host and a dear friend, the Divine Ms. T, arrives Friday for a 10-day visit, during which we plan to visit the Great Wall (in a heatwave, no less, but will take plenty of water), see Cirque du Soleil, go to lots of markets and other tourist spots and eat great food. She also plans a trip to Henan to see the Shaolin Temple and the Longmen Grottoes - my weekends are already booked while she is here so I can't accompany her but I'm trying to talk other friends into visiting so we can do that at a later time. It sounds great - an overnight train trip, a driver/guide for a full day in Henan then back to Beijing on another overnight train.
Other friends from Jeju Island will also be passing through town during the next two weeks so I hope to see them also.
Which means I'd best finish up the Lonely Planet recommended Top 30 Experiences before venturing out to compile my own list.
26. Pingyao, Shanxi
This walled town is yet another of China's entry's on UNESCO's World Heritage List. (There are 45 sites on the list, so I'm not too surprised many of the LP picks are there.)
Unesco says it is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city, LP says there's not another city in China like it. I may need a few more reasons to put it on my travel plan.
27. Hiking in Jiuzhaigou National Park, Sichuan
Another Unesco site, would you believe, with a number of endangered species, including the Giant Panda. It certainly looks beautiful, as seen in the photo gallery with this National Geographic article (you need to join to see the full article but there is no fee). Even better, since 2009, eco-tours have been available to take you off the the tourist filled boardwalks. I prefer to hike without a guide but in a country as populous as this, appreciate the need to have a monitor in such a place.
I'll go here if I have the time.
28. Chinese Acrobatics
This is one of the suggestions I can take or leave, primarily because it's possible to see outside of China as well. There is a well-known theater not far from me so I may end up going there at some stage, but it's not on my must-see list. Perhaps the LP writers were getting a little tired at this point.
29. Cruising up Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
I love Hong Kong, but I don't necessarily need to visit it from Beijing, and it may be easier to do so from elsewhere. I've visited there a few times and am sure to do so again so don't need to try to fit it into my time working here (if only work didn't get in the way of my holidays so often).
30. Beijing's Hutong
These narrow alleyways can be found in much of inner Beijing and range from crowded shantytowns, many of which are due to be torn down and replaced, to upmarket areas with bars, businesses and eating places in teh restored one-story houses. Many expats choose to live in the hutong and a friend who has been here some time has promised to take me exploring those near where she lives.
So that's it - the LP recommendations perused, considered, accepted, rejected or put in the, "If I have time" file.
Stay tuned for more on the adventure as it happens . . .