Sunday, April 15, 2007
Beijing: Hou Hai Area
We ended up going to the beautiful Hou Hai area a couple times throughout our trip.
Upon arriving in Beijing, we took a nap at our hotel that ended up a lot later than we expected. By the time we got out the door for dinner, it was about 9:30pm. Our guidebooks recommen- ded this hip area with funky bars and restaurants cozily packed around Hou Hai Lake. It was a chilly spring weeknight, so it wasn't the hopping nightlife we had expected, but we could definitely imagine how fun it would be to spend a hot summer night chilling out on one of the hundreds of outdoor patios that each restaurant and bar had!
So caught up in the scenery and exploring that we didn't realize that by the time we found a place to eat, it was almost 10:30pm! But upon seating us at the table and handing us the menus, the waitress harshly told us that the kitchen was closed! We were confused for awhile (the language thing, and also, umm, so why did you give us a menu?!? Blood sugar was nearing the "dangerous" low point, so we feigned ignorance, and they reluctantly took our orders. The staff gave us dirty looks the whole time, and shut off the lights zone by zone until it was just us. We wolfed the food down as quickly as we could, but even after all that, I have to say that it was one of the best meals we've ever had!
Finally satiated, we were able to wander around and find a bar to relax. We ended up sipping colorful cocktails at Lotus Blue (somehow it seemed like half of the places at Hou Hai had the same name) and watched a funky band perform.
Going back there in the daytime a few days later, we were able to appreciate the natural beauty of the lake! There were billowing willow trees shading the cobblestoned pathway, people paddling by in boats alongside the ducks, and offbeat shops selling jewelry, vintage clothes, and hip clothes. Of course, Starbucks found its way there too!