Hegezhuang Village is tucked away on the border of Shunyi and Chaoyang. Over the years, it has developed from a nearly barren patch to an area bustling with services and attractions. Once, Hegezhuang housed mostly migrant workers in poor living conditions. However, the village committee started renovating houses into courtyard spaces in 2007 and helped local residents lease them out. The idea took off and attracted artists and other creative types who were looking to build a community. Hegezhuang’s proximity to 798 Art District was a plus, but the area’s uniqueness can be chalked up to its countryside feel despite being so close to the city. An immersion in both contemporary and traditional Chinese art forms, this combination walking and driving tour will leave you feeling positively cultured.
Start the day at Art Base 1; you can’t miss the big sign on Shunbai Lu. Sister to the larger 798 community, this area is much less touristy (and less-crowded) than its Dashanzi counterpart. There may be no souvenir shops selling trendy art-inspired merchandise, but you’ll be able to take in contemporary art exhibits at a leisurely pace. As you pull into the main courtyard, you’ll recognize several sculptures identical to those in 798. Take your time; it’s a great place to play “I Spy” with younger kids.
La Plantation is a gallery worth visiting. It features paintings by Chinese and international contemporary artists. Membership is available; inquire at La Plantation for rates that include access to special presentations, themed events, and invitation-only exhibitions.
When the children have had their fill of the main courtyard, step out towards the main road, turn left and walk down the street until you reach the side entrance of the 318 Art District compound on the left side. Enter through the path, and on the right, you will see Gallery Mun, another venue with dynamic contemporary art exhibitions. Gallery Mun doesn’t currently appear to have a phone number, but you can join their mailing list to be informed of future events (including several for children).
Give your feet a break by ducking into a massage parlor. Head back to the main road, Shunbai Lu, and you will see one on the corner to your left. Hanfang Yangsheng Baojian does a basic foot soak (pao jiao, 泡脚) for RMB 58 (30 minutes), or a foot soak and scrub (zu yu and pao jiao, 足欲和泡脚) for RMB 98 (70 minutes).
Once you’re all rested up, head to the left until you reach a big red brick structure. The aptly-named Red Brick Museum is an imposing 10,000sqm space that features artworks by foreign artists. With its factory space, Red Brick can host a huge selection of artworks and installations.
All this gallery-hopping will probably have tired out the littlest art fans by now, so it’s time to pop into a Hegezhuang institution: The Orchard. You’ll know it by the red lanterns at the gate and the apple orchard by the gravel path. Featuring an extensive Western menu and a relaxed atmosphere, there’s sure to be something for everyone here. After lunch, let the little ones loose in the playroom; older kids can explore the grounds safely. Peek into The Orchard Gift Shop for trinkets, accessories, and a small selection of furniture and home accents. A table outside holds second-hand books from Roundabout. The Orchard is closed on Mondays and serves lunch from noon to 2.30pm, so plan your trip accordingly.
With a full belly, make your way to Beidong Floriculture Garden. Get back into the car and drive east on Shunbai Lu until it intersects with Jingmi Lu, approximately 800m. Turn left on Jingmi Lu and drive 2km until you see Beidong on your left. The outdoor area is crammed with kites, terra cotta warriors and horses, other figures from Chinese and Western history, and pots and vases of all sizes. Vendors worth seeking out include Sunny Yang at Sanni Art for whimsical paintings with Chinese themes, Diana at Huali’s Antiques for furniture and household accessories, and Liu Lei Framing Shop for all your framing needs. Stalls also sell seasonal items like Halloween, Easter, and Christmas decorations. The vendors in Beidong Flower Market deliver in Shunyi for free. Most are helpful and speak English.
Finally, wash down the day’s adventures with a cup of tea at The English Tearoom. To get there, exit Beidong, turn right, go down the street about 100m, and enter a set of wrought iron gates. Turn left at the path and look for the red London phone booth. Reward your kids with afternoon tea, complete with mini-sandwiches and yummy scones.
Art Base 1一号地国际艺术区
Daily 10am-7pm. Hegezhuang Village, Cuigezhuang Town, Chaoyang District (6433 6920) 顺义区崔各庄镇和各庄村
Tue-Sun 10am-7pm (gallery and art shop), Tue-Sun 10am-11pm (bar). Area D, Art Base 1, Hegezhuang Village, Cuigezhuang Town, Chaoyang District (6433 6920/13) 朝阳区崔各庄镇何各庄村1号地艺术园D区
Daily 10am-5pm. Unit 6-1, 318 Art Complex, Hegezhuang, Shunbai Jie, Chaoyang District 朝阳区和各庄村顺白街318艺术区6-1
Hanfang Yangsheng Baojian 汉方养生保健
Daily 10am-7pm. Hegezhuang, Shunbai Lu, Chaoyang District (6431 1092) 朝阳区顺白路何各庄
Red Brick Museum 红砖当代美术馆
Tue-Sun 10am-5.30pm. Hegezhuang Village, Cuigezhuang Town, Chaoyang District (134 2645 1523) 朝阳区崔各庄乡何各庄村
The Orchard 果园西餐厅
Tue-Sun noon-2.30pm (lunch), 6-9pm (dinner). Hegezhuang Village, Cuigezhuang Town, Chaoyang District (6433 6270) 朝阳区崔各庄乡何各庄村
Beidong Floriculture Garden 北东花卉市场
Daily 8.30am-6.30pm (summer), 9am-5.30pm (winter). Shunhuang Lu, Sunhe Xiang, Shunyi District (8459 3093) 顺义区孙河乡顺黄路
Daily 10am-6pm. Beidong Floriculture Garden, Shunhuang Lu, Shunyi District (135 2118 6292, 135 2047 2749) www.sanniart.com 顺义区孙河乡顺黄路北东花卉市场
Huali’s Antiques 华里古董
Daily 8.30am-6.30pm. Shop 29-30, Area B, Beidong Floriculture Garden, Shunhuang Lu, Shunyi District (Diana: 136 6136 2681, Frank: 133 8137 7369) 顺义区孙河乡顺黄路北东花卉市场B区29-30店铺
Liu Lei Framing Shop 刘磊设计
Daily 9.30am-6pm. Shop 6, Area Z, Beidong Floriculture Garden, Shunhuang Lu, Shunyi District (133 9156 1561, 134 2621 1686) 顺义区孙河乡顺黄路北东花卉市场Z区6店铺
The English Tearoom 英国茶房
Daily 10am-7pm. Inside Chuangyi Yuan, 1A Shunhuang Lu, Sunhe Township, Shunyi District (8459 4407, 158 1099 8410 English and Chinese) www.englishtearoombeijing.com 顺义区孙河乡顺黄路甲1号创意园内(近赛特奥特莱斯)
Photo by Judy Zhou
This article originally appeared on p30-31 of the beijingkids July 2013 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com