Aside from the marvelous planning work that all us interns are doing, we do manage to sneak away from the office from time to time to explore all the lovely things that China has to offer. Last weekend was no exception, and I went to Shi Du Nature Park to explore. Shi Du actually means “10 ferry crossings” and is named because it supposedly takes 10 river crossings to reach the town. The Juma River winds and snakes through town, and creates some lovely karst formations. For the uninitiated, a visual and a little research might help. Wikipedia has a lovely entry from their “karst” page.
This particular formation is from Guilin, China in the southern part of the country. Shi Du is often referred to as the “Guilin of the North” because of its resemblance, and is unique because it is one of the only places in northern China that boasts karst formations. As I’m sure you can imagine, I was ready to take in some natural beauty and escape from the hustle and bustle of Beijing. You know–see the real China, not just the chaotic metropolises…
After a few mishaps on the bus ride down (who knew that the 917 bus had more than one route?!), we finally managed to end up at the 9th crossing as per the recommendation of the bus attendant. When we got off the bus, we were in for a real surprise. Right alongside the steep mountain cliffs were… you guessed it! MERRY-GO-ROUNDS AND BUMPER CARS. WITH FLO-RIDA BLASTING IN THE BACKGROUND.
Oh, dear reader, we were not anticipating that.
For better or for worse, I did not do a ton of research into this trip, and relied more on my colleagues who suggested it. I would like to think that my travel smarts would have steered us away from such results, but it seems the theme park additions were all very recent and tripadvisor reviews were not quite recent enough to properly inform us of the developments. While it wasn’t quite what we were hoping for, this actually informed my understanding of China and its rapid development.
This article points out that because China’s middle class is growing considerably, they have more disposable income to put towards things like amusement parks. While I grew up with fair rides and games, I’m sure most of my Chinese counterparts did not. I can see how adding and amusement park would be a nice feature, and perhaps it would even be considered silly not to include such things. In addition, it also seems that conservancy is still in its nascent changes, as is the concept of hiking and “roughing it” for a few days.
Alas, that weekend, I did not have the quiet retreat from Beijing that I was hoping for. However, I observed a slice of life that many Beijingers take part in. In addition to Shi Du, I experienced a 4 hour bus ride with limited air conditioning and my seat-mate (a young Chinese lady) falling asleep on my shoulder! I mean, if that’s not the real China, what else would it be?