Most bucket lists tend to be geared towards the individual, but why keep all the fun to yourself when could share it with your family? The second part of this two-part blog post will detail five more outings and activities that I think are unique to Beijing and can be adapted to include people of different ages. Check out the first part of the series here.
6. Learn How to Make Jianbing
Jianbing, the Chinese take on the breakfast burrito, can be found on many a roadside stall and is truly a street food staple. Find your regular jianbing lady (this is Beijing, you have to have a regular jianbing lady) and ask her to teach you the finer points of her craft. This is actually an item on my personal bucket list and one that I managed to cross off this summer. Be warned, it’s harder than it looks. I ate my crumbly creation with a fork, but relished every bite.
7. Take Family Portraits
In many ways, Beijing is the best place to take family portraits. Take the family to a studio and spend a day joking around in front of the camera. If the studio doesn’t provide you the backdrop you want (some can be garish and in bad taste), you can ask a photographer to come to your home for the shoot. You’ll have access to your own clothes, makeup and props in a familiar setting. You can also get family pets in on the action, ensuring that no one is left out.
8. Visit Panjiayuan Market
The “dirt market,” with thousands of vendors hawking wares ranging from beads to Buddhas is one of a kind. Even if you don’t want to shop, Panjiayuan is a great place to people watch and just wander around. Go early in the morning to beat the crowds and grab local food for breakfast. The market opens at 5am, but according to a vendor I chatted with, going early doesn’t necessarily get you a better price.
9. Walk the Grounds of Peking University
Even if your kids are too young to be visiting colleges, an exception should be made for a trip to Peking University (Beida). The grounds span more than 200 hectares and are filled with traditional Chinese houses, pagodas and other great examples of architecture. There are walking paths near the north of the campus where you can get a view of Weiming Lake and you should be sure to check out the West Gate, which is known for its painted ceilings
10. Watch a Guo’an Soccer Game
I lived in Beijing for ten years and never felt more connected to the city and its people until I attended a local Guo’an soccer match. Guo’an represents Beijing in the Chinese Super League and play all their home games at Gongti. There’s just something about joining the throngs of green-clad supporters streaming towards the stadium and screaming at the top of your lungs as a mediocre game unfolds (I witnessed the Guo’an score an embarassing own goal). Even if you don’t go for the soccer, go for the pride you’ll feel when the Guo’an somehow do something right.
Tips: Make the last leg of your journey on foot to avoid traffic. If you walk, you can also buy food and Guo’an paraphernalia along the way.
Heather Budimulia is a rising college sophomore, beijingkids’ intern and 北京人in progress. Though originally from Singapore, she spent a decade in Beijing and since she learned to bake and fell in love with publication there, considers it her home. When not in the office or storing sleep for college, she’ll probably be in a coffee shop with a good book, her journal or a stranger (or all three).
Photos: tom mascardo, epSos de, edwin lee, marco klapper and chumsdock (flickr)