Another Beijing commute

A few months ago, I posted pictures of my Beijing commute from home to my language school. Since then, I have moved from my old apartment in Beijing’s northwestern university area to an apartment within the city’s Second Ring Road. The Second Ring traces the line once drawn by the imperial moat and city walls, so I am now living in “Old Beijing” — you can find my alley (or hutong) on Qing dynasty maps from the 18th century. In addition to a new flat, I also have a new commute destination in the city’s Central Business District (CBD) on the East Third Ring. I am blessed with perhaps one of the city’s most pleasant commutes, as it takes me along the old imperial lakes (Shichahai/Houhai), around the back of Jingshan Park to the northern end of the Forbidden City, and then east-southeast past Chaoyangmen to the Third Ring. According to Google Earth, the total route is 9.43km/5.86 miles. Here is a map of the route.

Since taking these pictures, I’ve discovered an alternate route that takes me through one of Beijing’s pleasantly leafy embassy areas. It diverges from the following route after I pass the massive Chinese Foreign Ministry building, and in a happy coincidence takes me past the North Korean embassy. I’ll try to post pictures of that route soon.

And now, the pictures!

Out the front door!


Don’t hit the nice ladies on the way out the front gate. Right out of the gate…


… and left down here.


Along the hutong.


Down to one of the many local public toilets and right. Even now, some of the houses in the hutongs don’t have plumbing, so public toilets are a common sight.


Down this way…


To the left…


There’s an intersection of two hutongs that turns into a lively market in the morning and evening. This man was selling what looked like pork. Unfortunately, the picture of the mule-drawn fruit cart didn’t turn out.


A man hauling coal for heating homes. This sort of very low-grade coal is partly responsible for Beijing’s terrible winter air pollution.


Across a leafy street and after the car down another hutong.


Moving right along…


Most cars can’t get through this part. You have to be careful of people stepping out of doors to the right.


Almost down to the lake. Left at the intersection.


Now heading along the lake-side road.


Pretty morning lake.


Token Dahon/pedalling shot.


There’s been quite a bit of construction on this road recently. I have to make way for a line of tourists in bicycle rickshaws.


One of many bars along the lake. Unfortunately, it’s closed — I’ll have to do without my morning Heineken today.


On the right is Yindingqiao, a pretty little bridge marking the border between Shichahai and Houhai. You can read more here.


Moving along…


Pretty lake. Does not feel like I’m in a city of 15+ million.


Coming up to another bridge. I actually go over this one, but I don’t know its name.


There it is!


Quick, slightly blurry shot from the top of the bridge.


Down the other side and we meet with a roadblock. Not to worry! I can take the pedestrian walkway along the lakeside!


Pedestrian walkway.


Pretty shot from the pedestrian walkway. Sometimes China can look so Chinese it’s ridiculous. I like those times.


Back on the road.


Blurry, but I wanted to keep this one in. The colourful things are public exercise machines. There’s always a group of older people here exercising in the morning — you can see them blurrily waving their hands in the air. Every time I see them, they’re exercising and laughing. We wave at each other when I ride by.


Past a line of bicycle rickshaws waiting for the day’s tourists.


On a big street now. Waiting for the light to change so I can cross.


Crossed, heading east.


A bit of a bicycle jam at the traffic light. I go around them because I’m turning right…


… down here!


Moving along… left at the end, which is the north end of Jingshan Park (also known as “Coal Hill”).


Along the side of the park, and right…


… down this way. If you can find a fearless and speedy rider, electric scooters are great for drafting in a big headwind!


Another blurry picture that I left in because it tells a story. The men sitting on the benches are there with their songbirds in cages. I love the sound as I ride by.


Waiting for the light to change. The Chinesey-looking building is a tower at the northeast corner of the Forbidden City.


A better picture of the tower.


Looking back through the trolley-bus wires at Jingshan Park/Coal Hill.


Continuing along. The road curves a bit to the north here.


And from here it’s pretty much straight east.


Well, actually from here it’s pretty much straight east. This part of the ride isn’t so exciting, but at least there’s a nice big bike lane.


A woman talking to a crossing guard. These guys are tough, and shout at anyone who so much as thinks about trying to walk/ride on a red light.


A pretty shadow and my foot (in riding shoe).


Aforementioned big bike lane.


This store is holding a sale, and there’s been a massive queue every morning for at least two weeks.


Another crossing guard, and a man looking at the funny guy with the camera and the folding bike and the helmet.


“People’s Representatives chosen by the People, People’s Representatives for the People”. It sounds better in Chinese. I don’t think it measures up to the red banner on my last commute, but such is life.


New buildings. The one on the right is the headquarters for CNOOC, the Chinese National Overseas Oil Company. The one on the left isn’t finished and I have no idea what it is.


The absurdly massive Chinese Foreign Ministry. The alternate route that I mentioned in the opening comments starts after passing this building.


But today we’re going straight!


Through a big intersection and heading southeast.


Into the Central Business District, a rather desolate place and very much under construction.


Token Old China/New China photo.


Right down this way.


None of these buildings were here five years ago.


Left across the street here…


And there’s my office building!


But we have to go around… The cranes you see are building the absurdly massive (but extraordinarily cool) Rem Koolhaas-designed Chinese Central Television headquarters.


Up to the main door…


… a quick fold and we’re done!


Hope you enjoyed the ride.


6 thoughts on “Another Beijing commute”

  1. This looks a hell of a lot nicer than your previous commute mate. I was almost hit by a bus on that intersection on photo 42! We were jumping in a CNN hired van that didn’t quite fit the number of people we needed it to and it had no where to stop so it halted in the middle of traffic to get us in and lots of those Nazis in the pale blue uniforms shouted at us. Good stuff mate. Glad you are doing so well.

  2. I love houhai forever!
    The bridge you don’t know named “DI An bridge”,cos that place named “Di An men”.the name was written on one side of the bridge.

    and the pic about traffic jam have a ad. board named “秋栗香”in it. their chestnut tastes very delicious. recommend it to you.

  3. Your pics reminded me of when I lived in Houhai.
    We’re pretty lucky; the weather’s been mild lately, but did you hear how the authorities are warning Beijing residents to stay indoors because of the pollution level? Hope you wear a mask! Trouble is, it’s hard to breathe through mine, and after 15 minutes the thing’s soaked with perspiration (or rather respiration)..
    Like the map; would have liked to have known how to make a route planner as you did when I was still teaching Geography…

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