Lost in Beijing
This past July I took off for China to attend the BNU Philophy Summer School in Beijing. It was my first time being in Asia, so visiting a city like Beijing was twice as majorly exciting. We had classes on campus everyday and made lots of visits to cool places. After two weeks of lectures and excursions with about 30 other students from several different countries, I can positively say it was an experience of a lifetime. Besides eating way too much ice cream and admiring fashionistas of all ages, one of the other non-scheduled things we did was getting lost in Beijing.
Technically speaking, it was more of a spontaneous decision to go explore the urban jungle. After a long day, we decided to take a walk through the park. We had seen this little stretch of park every time we had gone to the Jishuitan subway station and the night lights made it look almost irresistible. We passed the guards, a sight I usually wouldn’t associate with a park entrance, and walked right in. It was full of quaint little bridges, moderately drunk people, pretty pavilions, and lit-up ponds with little fish.
We left the park and got a little bit lost in a network of residential streets. We had a go at some of those public fitness thingies (I wouldn’t call them machines) that you find everywhere across the city. I’ve been told me they were put there to combat the country’s growing obesity rates, but they are actually quite fun. I’ve seen many older people making good use of them too. After a while of strolling around and enjoying the sights of all those colourful street food stalls and ice cream fridges, we recognised the streets again and all got back to our hotel.
In short, getting lost in Beijing isn’t a bad plan at all. It’s actually really relaxing, during summer nights anyway. I’m not too sure about getting lost during cold and snowy winter nights, probably not the best of plans. In summer the streets are alive 24/7 and the city lights make everything look like metropolitan magic. Just make sure you’re not alone (although Beijing is pretty safe) and already within walking distance of wherever you are supposed to end up!