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Houhai and the Paddle Boat Traffic Jam

11 Jun

Morgan and Brett at Houhai

After what felt like the longest and coldest winter of my life, I was ecstatic when spring finally sprung.  Brett and I could not get outside fast enough to soak up some Beijing rays (I believe it is actually called smog but beggars can’t be choosers, right?) and enjoy a cold Tsingdao (local beer) at a fun rooftop bar.

Many of our local and expat friends recommended a park area in the center of the city called Houhai, and we decided to give it a go. Unfortunately for my feet, the park was a “little” larger than we anticipated.  Nevertheless, it was my first opportunity of the season to sport a new pair of platform sandals, and I didn’t want to miss it.  Truthfully, the shoes were inappropriately high for a day at the park and even though my brain knew better…fashion overruled.

Traffic Jam View from Rooftop Restaurant

My good friend, Giant Festering Blister, showed up soon after our arrival.  Thankfully, Brett was a true gentleman and flagged down a rickshaw to take us around the area. We overpaid like total newbies, but sometimes it is just not worth the time to haggle over $1USD!  The ride around the park was actually quite charming and pleasant until the traffic jam.  That’s right…a rickshaw traffic jam.  Only in China can a rickshaw traffic jam exist.  Check out the crazy cluster in this photo.

Other than crazy Chinese rickshaw drivers, the area is entirely lovely.  Numerous cafes, bars, and boutiques surround the Houhai Lake which once served as the terminus of the old Beijing canal system.  We found a quaint rooftop spot overlooking a bridge where we could watch Chinese paddle boat mania.  Seriously, paddle boat traffic jams?  I really shouldn’t be surprised – human traffic jams exist here.  I swear there is no courtesy, right of way, or any semblance of order in any form of transportation in this country.  I am making a concerted effort to find this amusing rather than frustrating, but the fact is that our driver had to tell me to calm down after I shouted at an extremely rude cabbie two days ago.  This clearly demonstrates my lack of progress in the matter. I should also take this opportunity to openly reveal that I am a horrendous driver.  There is no judgement here – only amazement.

Paddle Boat Madness!!

The truth is – Houhai is a lovely spot to spend a sunny Beijing afternoon.  We will definitely go back.  I am not sure that we will ever have the desire to partake in the paddle boat madness, but we will definitely watch from afar with cold beverages in hand.  Bravo to those forward thinkers who turned this once low-rent part of town into a buzzing hotspot.

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4 Responses to “Houhai and the Paddle Boat Traffic Jam”

  1. Cynthia June 18, 2010 at 7:38 am #

    M – you look SO very happy! I love the Blog!!

    xoxo,
    CB

    • morganharbin June 18, 2010 at 11:08 am #

      Thank you so much! I am happy! Great to hear from you.
      xoxo,
      Morgan

  2. Mama Jean June 22, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    I love the blog and I love you. Keep your stories coming! Bet you can’t wait for Mom to come over. u

  3. Mama Jean June 22, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    Your dad loved the present. How thoughtful of you!

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