Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 2 - Part IV Venturing out - the park...

And into the park...

But we did, at last, arrive at ChaoYang Park.  It struck me as Central Park if Walt Disney designed it, but wasn't so picky about the architecture - or it lasting.  The Sino-Thai friendship pavillion is already crumbling at the ripe 'ol age of 6 years old. 
All this damage, despite the signage.

     Specifically aimed at children (and seniors), you pay admission, there is a map of ChaoYang park at the entrance, and lots of direction sign pointing your way to attractions.  The landscaping is "naturalistic" and yet, is signed for, among other things, a place for people to gather in the event of mass disasters.  Yes, the government permanently has signs up showing you where they've made plans to set up emergency shelters.  (I know all my emergency planning friends are a bit envious)

There are a few pieces of cool IKEA like (yes there is IKEA Beijing, no we didn't go.) exercise equipment.  Tavin demonstrated all the ones he could figure out how to work.  This included the "Gazelle" of late-night infomercial fame, a treadmill that makes you think of the rollers at the front of those X-ray machines at the airport, A largely resistance free "eliptical runner," sit-up benches, some round things, some things for stretching on, some other things, and a ladder of sorts.  

From there we went to seek out "ice skating," as we were told it did exist.... 2km away at the south end of the park.  Undaunted we started off.
With the winter sun bright, but low in the sky it was easy to keep track of whether or not our path was leading us south, since "ice skating" was listed nowhere on the signs.  And with 2 km to go we might as well do some sight seeing along the way.  

We saw the "Wedding Palace," and it looks just about like what it sounds - if you want to have as ostentatious a wedding as you can afford for 500 or so of your closest family and friends in the gaudiest place you can conjure in a Vegas meets Atlantic CIty sort of setting.  This is it.  
    At least from the outside, built in classical georgian victorian federalist english-country roman gothic style (really) it moslty comes down to a 3 story cube with a dome on top with more or less appropriately placed fluted columns, and porches leading out of the corners of the four corners.  A horseshoe shaped  trellis garden leads out to 2 piers into the frozen lake.  

What can I say... it screams Wedding Industrial Complex.  Now there's an area of know-how we could export.  I've seen some of the wedding shops, and tons of the ads, including the ones projected on the walls of the subway tunnels outside the car windows (Yes - even if you attempt to avoid the commercial onslaught of the subway car by gazing at the dark, blank walls between stations - that is no longer an escape.), and Modern Bride has a market wide open and waiting.  Though Martha Stewart has made her way into Japan.

We left that monstrosity and crossed a cool little draw bridge.

  There Tavin and I saw something neither of us had ever seen before:  A fish frozen in the ice.

answering, sort-of, an age old question....
  Since someone had already wiped the Beijing dust off the ice earlier, we were not the only ones fascinated by it.  
On the other side of the draw-bridge was a copy of a Roman-style arcade.  

An impressively hardy couple was taking advantage of the clear, sunny, but cold (-4C) weather for some wedding photos.  Whether they were models for advertising or a real couple I couldn't say, but the guy's white tux with black accents was eye-catching.

 Next - the amusing amusement park.

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