Autumn in Beijing is one of the loveliest times of year. A favorite getaway for some Shunyi residents in these crisp months is nearby Luoma Hu, or Roma Lake. Only a three-minute drive from the ISB and BSB area, the lake gives one’s eyes a respite from all the grey we see around us. A stroll along the bank to watch locals fishing patiently makes for a refreshing change from the concrete jungle that we do battle in on other days. There are more and more dining options available, and now, two venues for shopping in a charming and non-commercial environment.
Yes, the lake is manmade and in some parts is not extremely clean. But with no intentions of ever taking a dip, it is a suitable enough body of water in these parts to gaze out at. The shades of blue in the water are soothing, and on good weather days, the reflection of the clouds on the water’s surface make you forget you are so close to the big, bustling capital. This is a popular fishing spot, with many a local grandfather type spending hours waiting for a catch. They come out in all seasons, these fishermen. Some are recreational fishers, others are here to supplement their income. In the winter, they engage in ice-fishing and that is an interesting exercise to watch as well.
With the recent opening of Radiance at Luoma Hu, more foreigners are discovering this quaint corner of Shunyi. Radiance has a wide range of merchandise, from small tokens and Chinese-themed home decor, to antique furniture that will set you back in the tens of thousands of red Mao notes.
A smaller, much less-popular shop is tucked away at the farther end of the lake. The Chinese characters on the storefront simply say shenghuo yijia huo, roughly translating to lifestyle goods. Inside is a treasure trove of bric-a-brac you didn’t know you needed, artfully displayed in thrift-shop style. There are mugs and mason jars, potholders and posters, doilies and duck-themed decor. No two things are alike and the whole shop has a homey feel. While we’ve spotted stores of similar ilk in the hip Gulou area, this is the first time we’ve seen something like this all the way out here in the suburbs. The shop opens, according to the owner, “chabuduo shi-yi dian”. Don’t rush to be there by eleven o’clock because if the Chinese give a rough estimate for an opening time, you will want to allot a window of thirty minutes to an hour before they actually get ready to do business. Afternoon would probably be a safer bet. Open daily. No telephone.
Radiance Café is a lovely place to enjoy a sandwich or a slice of cake. Sit among antiques in an art nouveau cafe and have a chat with a friend over a cup of their house specialty milk tea. Or come in to do some browsing or writing under a 1920s hurricane lamp. Clean bathrooms. Wifi available.
Elaine’s Vegetarian Restaurant and Malacca Legend are both popular lunch and dinner venues. While neither place has a specific kids’ menu you are sure to find something that the little ones will enjoy. Elaine’s makes a vegemeat sausage that won’t have your kids complaining, it tastes so close to the real thing. Malacca Legend has chicken and lamb satay, as well as a variety of noodle dishes that will please the pickiest little diners. Both have clean facilities and bathrooms.
More popular in the evening, Yuji Barbecue and Beer is a good place to go to get your chuan’r fix without worries for cleanliness. This is a relatively upscale barbecue place with prices of dishes nearly double of those you would pay at Houshayu. But standards are much higher too. This place attracts groups wanting to enjoy the home brew stout, but it doesn’t get too loud. The night we went there were several groups of foreign families with kids in tow, and as expected, the little ones got really friendly service from the waitstaff. Clean bathrooms. Wifi available.
Photo by Dana Cosio-Mercado
Dana is the beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Beijing in 2011 (via Europe) with her husband, two sons and Rusty the dog. She enjoys writing, photography, theater, visual arts, and trying new food. In her free time, she can be found exploring the city and driving along the mountain roads of Huairou, Miyun and Pinggu.