Art and More Palaces – Beijing Day 4

pavilion beijing

Our last full day in Beijing started with something that I really wanted to do and that was to visit a place with a lot of contemporary art. Chen Guo suggested the 798 Art Zone in north-eastern part of Beijing. It is a large compound of all kind of buildings, but the main feel is sort of industrial, because there are a lot of warehouses and exposed piping.

Art Zone 798
Street in the Art Zone 798

There were a lot of little galleries and workshops for all kinds of artists. But art was also outside on the streets, a lot of sculptures and graffiti (a bit like Metelkova in Ljubljana, but much bigger). There were also some food places, but most of them had western food, I couldn’t really find anything traditionally Chinese.

Cooks in Art Zone 798
Two cooks in Art Zone 798 taking a break

I went into some china shops, because I love tea and everything to do with it. I didn’t buy anything because it was 1.) too expensive and 2.) too much choice for the little time I had. I am not good at making fast decisions. But the teapots and the cups were nice to look at nonetheless.

Cat in art zone 798
Fabio looking at a cat

It was a very eclectic place – all kinds of things thrown together. If I lived in Beijing I could definitely see myself frequenting the 798 Art Zone and buying some art occasionally.

looking at a bird in art zone 798
Some guy admiring a bird
sculpture in art zone 798 beijing
Big sculpture of a person

We spend the most time in the Baiyaxuan 798 Art Center. Their main exhibition were paintings from around 5 or 6 different painters. Each had quite a distinct style and it was interesting to compare different paintings of the same artist. I couldn’t take any pictures, obviously. We talked to a girl who worked there and was really nice. She was from Henan and I asked her to recommend some places to visit there and she gave me quite a big list. She used Hanzi (Chinese characters) so I haven’t deciphered it yet, but I’m going to!

Baiyaxuan 798 Art Center
Entrance of Baiyaxuan 798 Art Center

After visiting the Art Zone, I thought we could visit The Temple of Heaven which is not far from the Shichahai lakes, but the Chinese can be quite “aggressive” hosts and when they decided they want to take you somewhere, they don’t budge. So instead we went to the Summer Palace in the north-east of the city.

Summer Palace
Summer Palace in Beijing

The Summer Palace is not only a palace, it is a huge park with lakes and hills (and palaces), which the royalty used for their summer retreat. After the entrance there is soon the rising palace. When you reach the top of the palace, you also reach the top of the hill, from where you can see the big Kunming lake.

summer palace lake
Pavilions at Kunming lake

Someone (Alex) immediately decided we need to borrow a boat and that’s what we did. It was a little motorboat with a roof and place for 6 people. It couldn’t go straight, so we had to zigzag to get anywhere.

boat at summer palace lake
Alex, Fabio and Lin Gege on a boat

The bank was filled with weeping willows, which looked amazing in the wind. They also produced a bunch of flying white stuff, so you had to be careful not to get some in your mouth and other face orifices.

lake in beijing
View of the lake

In the featured photo you can see a pavilion which stood on the barrier to one of the west lakes. We returned the boat, went back up and down the hill and returned to the hotel.

The last day we had a really good breakfast 5 minutes from the hotel (baozi and egg soup) and then we had to go to the train station to return to Guangshan.

I think 4 days is not a lot to visit such a big city, especially if you don’t only want to see the tourist spots, but it was very illuminating for me either way. I wish we got more time to just walked around though. As I said in the previous post, it wasn’t at all what I expected, and I hope that by the end of my stay in China I get to visit it again. If I can manage that or not, I will return some other time for sure. Big thumbs up for Beijing!

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