Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Beijing by Foot

It was love at first sight when I first set foot on Shicha Hai (什刹海) early autumn this year. I did the touristy thing...a rickshaw hutong tour. I didn't particular enjoy the ride as I prefer to take my time walking along the banks of the lakes. So, I made a promise to myself that I would revisit this scenic spot again, by foot.

Located in the north of central Beijing city, the Shicha Hai area is made up of 3 man-made lakes - Qian Hai (前海, Front Lake), Hou Hai (后海, Back Lake) and Xi Hai (西海, West Lake). During the imperial eras, these lakes were part of a system used to transport grain by barge from the Grand Canal to the Forbidden City. In recent years it has become famous for its nightlife as many popular restaurants, bars, and cafes now lined the shores of Hou Hai.

After a late lunch at the QuanJuDe (famous for it's Peking roast duck), we took a slow stroll from Qian Hai, before heading north to Hou Hai and back to our starting point at Qian Hai.

Picturesque Qian Hai (前海) in winter...I am no good with words, all I could say is, this place has transformed from a gorgeous young lady in autumn to an elegant ice beauty in winter. (这里的风景有如从一位娥娜多姿的少女演变成一位优雅的冰山美人, 个有个的美!)

Sugar blower at Qian Hai, blowing animal figurines with caramel sugar. It took him less than 2 minutes to blow a tiger and about 1 minute for a snake figurine. We were very impressed with this traditional handcraft. I first saw this art from a travel documentary, it is never the same when you see it with your own eyes. I bought two Chinese zodiac signs from this sugar blower, later that day I noticed others are selling at half the price I paid.

Someone has left a fresh stalk of rose on the frozen lake...I wonder why?

Seeing double? The reflection on the lake was more vivid than the real scenery.

Hou Hai in the afternoon...

endless row of willow trees along the shore...

My kids were very amused when they saw this half-naked man jogging along Hou Hai.

At this recreational area, residences are either kicking colourful shuttlecocks...or

having a friendly game of table tennis...

and the few brave ones, taking a dip in the icy lake...

Many small booths and cafes offer yoghurt served in traditional ceramic bottles...and yes, with a straw.

This signboard at a tiny shop says "Number One Smelly in the World"...

people are queuing up its stinky or smelly tofu...

deep fried fermented tofu, which didn't taste as smelly as I had expected.

It was only four in the afternoon but the sun was calling it a day.

We were greeted with a beautiful sun set. Before the night fell, we took refuge at a nearby Starbucks from the cold, before heading out for more street food at the night markets at Wangfujing. It was a leisurely 2 hours walk along the lakeside, and I have to declare that it was the best walk we took in Beijing.


  1. what an lovely set of pictures, i loved the yogurts, great photos, cheers from london

  2. Thanks for sharing your visit to Beijing, sound like a beautiful place to visit!

  3. This is such a beautiful post!! I enjoyed the walk with you all, too!!

    Did you get to order Peking roast duck!!?? I've heard so much about 全聚德 ... Yet, never ever get to experience that myself ... =(

    "这里的风景有如从一位娥娜多姿的少女演变成一位优雅的冰山美人, 个有个的美!"---Well-said, friend! Love it!

    I felt sorry that you actually paid more for the same thing! What a bummer! But, those creations are indeed lovely artwork!

    Hmm ... I'm also curious about the pretty pink rose in the midst of a frozen lake!

    When I saw the half-naked man, I couldn't stop chuckling! I've seen that a lot myself each winter in America! Some local students organized some events whereby participants swam half-naked in the frozen lake beside our campus! LOL! The worst, we still couldn't figure out why some people persisted having their cars parked on the frozen lake! =S

    I personally don't like 臭豆腐! The smell of it can already send me to unconsciousness ...

    Thanks, HHB!! I really enjoyed the walk with all of you!

  4. looks real is the temperature like? negative 10 deg?

    Enjoy ur trip...and keep posting : )

  5. Wow, awesome Pix! Never knew China can be so beautiful place. Thanks for sharing....

    Merry Christmas :)

  6. Your Fan :-)24/12/09 8:20 a.m.

    I love to read your blog. It is so interesting - full of recipes and your photography is good. You write very well too :-)

    You are a great homemaker. I can see that you are great in taking care of your family. Your husband and children are so lucky.

    I guess you made the right decision when you decided to be a homemaker in 2006 :-)

  7. “圣诞节快乐!!”

  8. Hi Happy Home Baker,

    Merry X'mas and A Happy New Year to you and your family. :)

  9. Hey, Merry X'mas & Happy 2010 to you & family!!


  10. HHB, wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2010 ahead!

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful pics!

  11. Hi, my English is not good so bare with me please. I am in love with your blog but this is the first time I leave a comment. I loved Steam Bun but could'nt find it anywhere in KS. Please give me any advices regarding to flour. Sincerely .

  12. Hi michael, I use Hong Kong pau flour to make the steam buns.

  13. Can we substitube Hong Kong pau flour to cake flour? B/c I can't find HK flour anywhere in Kansas.

  14. michael, yes you can use cake flour (low protein flour), but the skin will be not as white compare to HK pau flour. Hope you have fun making those steam buns :)

  15. Have you tried dumplings and roast ducks? They are the famous and traditional Beijing dieshes. And also bird's nest soup? Its a delicacy in China.

    Enjoy your days~~~