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  • Writer's pictureCristina

A lake in the middle of Beijing

Updated: May 16, 2023

Beijing, China, October 2014

We landed after a ten-hour flight and decided to leave our suitcases behind and venture into the Hutongs, Beijing's traditional alleys. Unfortunately, almost nothing traditional remains today. In fact, the hutongs in the Shichahai area are a very touristy place, but they are still very charming. There are bars, souvenir shops and plenty of people. Numerous colourful doors attract our attention. The rickshaw men shout to attract customers, the smell of meat skewers and street food wafts through the maze of alleys. Suddenly a lake materialises in front of us. Never would I have imagined finding a lake in the heart of Beijing's hutongs. It is Houhai Lake, an artificial lake built during the Yuan dynasty. Nearby you can find Beihai Park, the drum tower and the Lama Temple. It may be that it was the first place I saw in this huge metropolis, but it stuck in my mind. Whenever I wanted to take a break from chaotic Beijing, I found myself strolling on the pavements along the lake, or in one of the many bars drinking a beer or hot tea. Beijingers also meet, play, fish and fly kites here. When I returned to China in the winter of 2018, I immediately ran to see how my lake was. I found it all frozen over. So I rented skates at one of the many little bars that had sprung up like mushrooms and experienced the thrill of skating at sunset on a real frozen lake.


Rickshaws for tourists

Up in the sky kites

Beihai Park in the distance

Sunset skating

Houhai by night

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