Saturday, February 21, 2009

In Search Of Yan Bei Yuan

As we've undoubtedly mentioned, right across the street from the front entrance of Yan Bei Yuan (our xiao qu, or apartment complex) is a wall denoting the boundary of Yuanmingyuan, the Old Summer Palace. For months, we have wondered why there isn't an entrance to the park right there, within steps of the homes of thousands of locals. We keep imagining how the park would come to life, with walkers, chess players, dancers, and others taking over its open spaces.

Our sense of wonderment especially holds since the nearest entrance is something like two miles away. (Yes, that's how immense the place is!) So, as kind of a little pet project, we headed off the other day to walk from the main entrance all the way to Yan Bei Yuan, or at least as close as we could get before running into the inevitable barrier.

It turns out that the barrier wasn't the other side of the wall, right across the street from where we live. No, we couldn't even get within about a quarter mile of Yan Bei Yuan. For some reason, the entire northwestern corner of the park is blocked off to visitors. It appears to be a beautiful area of little rolling hills, trees, and grasslands. If you look way in the distance (blow the picture up), there is the elusive Yan Bei Yuan.

So we didn't succeed in penetrating another Chinese barrier (we seldom do, it seems!), but at least we had a great walk out in the fresh air, so close but yet so far from the throngs of our neighbors...



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