Vocabulary of the day: piao liang, or beautiful.
This past weekend, our adventures have taken us to some of Beijing’s most beautiful landmarks.
Bright and early on Saturday, we visited the Ethnic Minority Park. Dedicated as a visual replica of the many ethnic minorities in China, and steps away from the Olympics District, this park serves to provide tourists and locals alike a look into the culture of China beyond Beijing and the cityscape.
Once inside, we saw “villages” showcasing over 50 different tribes, from the Han to the Tibetans. The park was like a trip through the rural countryside of China. Many of the structures are modeled after each minority’s traditions.
One particular photo that I took captures the perfect fusion of a transitioning nation. With Beijing’s Pangu Plaza Seven Star Hotel in the background and the park’s traditional temple, this image is the perfect example of what is occurring throughout Beijing: a city attempting to strike a balance between modernizing and preserving its heritage.
Saturday evening, we planned a night of activities to explore city life. First stop was dinner at Grandma’s Kitchen, a Western home-style restaurant that serves chicken fried steak and meat loaf. It was such a guilty pleasure to be able to have some hearty American food. This diner is mostly frequented by expats like us looking for some comfort food in Beijing.
After dinner, we decided to catch a symphony orchestra at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA). The building itself was stunning. Situated squarely in the Tiananmen area, the dome-shaped structure is an architectural marvel. Water surrounds the glass and steel dome, and as you walk down inside through the main atrium, you can see the water flowing above because the ceiling is constructed of glass.
The symphony orchestra we attended performed some of the great George Gershwin works: An American in Paris, Piano Concerto in F Major, and Porgy and Bess. It was definitely interesting to hear a Western work through an Eastern symphony orchestra. Luckily, one of our fellow SMU students, Jimmy, is a music major and was able to enlighten us with some of his thoughts.
After the performance, we decided to take an evening stroll through the Tiananmen area. The NCPA looked amazing at night, with its light reflecting from the water surrounding it. Strolling along, we continued on to the entrance of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Even at night, the life of the city is still vibrant: tourists snapping unforgettable photos, street vendors selling everything from umbrellas to key chains, and the bustling traffic that fills the streets with light and energy.
On the schedule for next week: Beijing Zoo, Pearl Market, and Temple of Heaven. Stay tuned!