Beijing '10 Day 13 - Tripping Through the Olympic Green, Bird's Nest & Forest Park

July 17, 2010 (Saturday)

The hottest and latest buzz about Beijing was the 2008 Olympics. I have been to the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube [H2O3] during my last visits but I’ve never been to the Forest Park (SenLinGongYuan) 森林公园 along the Line 8 after the Olympic Green. Imagine a lush green forest in the middle of an overly polluted Beijing, what a breath of fresh air. I was out by mid-morning and ate a full lunch over at the No. 1 BLCU Cafeteria. For this meal, I spent only 4.75RMB in card money for rice with 2 viands. 

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I also got an instant 30RMB (the deposit when you first purchased a card) when I gave up my extra cafeteria card. 

I decided that the best route to take was by subway so I won’t have to worry about the heat and traffic. Line 8 was probably the most well maintained and decorated of all the subway stations and even locals frequent these sites especially on weekends. 

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The subway stop exit leads directly to the south gate of the Forest Park and the entrance is free as of now.

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Much to my dismay, there was nothing to do at the Forest Park at first glance. I might have had an overly active imagination of bamboo trees or flowers complete with hiking trails and even getting lost while it rained. First of all, there was not rain but super hot and sticky weather and the giant trees are in fact just shrubs everywhere. Yes, this is why there is the word Park after Forest. 

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This is a good place to drive or bike though and I would recommend this place for a great exercise. Before renting one of those battery-operated or pedal buggies though, I would think twice first if I can return them in 30 minutes because it costs a lot per half an hour and the area is so huge.

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I was lazy but I wanted to give the place the benefit of the doubt so I boarded a shuttle that takes you around the whole park for 20RMB. The bad thing about this ride is that you cannot take pictures but then there is nothing to capture anyway. You can hop off in one of the many designated stops along the route but you would have to pay 20RMB again and wait for another shuttle if you want to ride again until the last stop, the south gate, which is also near the beginning stop. 

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I have seen much of this place in the short 15-minute ride and I would not come here again unless it was to ride one of those buggies with a friend.

Adventurous and frugal as I was, I decided to skip the subway to save that 2RMB and walked all the way to the Olympic Green stop, which housed the infamous Bird’s Nest and Water Cube. It was a long, long walk and I felt so dehydrated with the terrible heat. 

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There was nothing to see at the Olympic Park, just some statues and Olympic music playing over and over. 

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I was thrilled when I saw a sign for a sunken garden and an underground mall but they were not yet developed (2010). 

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Finally, the next subway stop direction began pointing to the direction I was walking instead of pointing back to the Forest Park stop. 

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Skipping bus stops was more manageable but skipping subway stops was really, really stupid just to join a credit card contest and to get a single picture with the Bird’s Nest. I began to see signs of people although the Bird’s Nest was still not visible in the heavy smog. Eventually, I got what I came for and left without hesitation onto my next destination.

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I planned to do some last minute bargain shopping over at XiDan 西单 but I was so tired and went there just to see if I could buy some original CDs or cheap DVDs. Surprisingly, an exit led me to a very big bookstore called DuShu DaXia 读书大厦. I wondered why the place was familiar and I suddenly remembered that I knew this place from before because I came here once or twice and spent some time in one of the floors just choosing books to take back home. It also had a big audio and video collection so I found the exact same CD of Ryuichi Sakamoto that they played in one of the coffee shops in the 798 Art District.

My last attempt at shopping ended as always in a supermarket where I find some last-minute food that will serve as take home gifts. Before Carrefour, I decided to checkout the Gateway Mall beside it for some window-shopping. All the big brands are already here in HuangZhuang 黄庄 so you won’t have to go all the way to The Village in SanLiTunr if you live in WuDaoKou 五道口. The Auntie Anne’s was affordable so I bought the original Lemonade and it did not disappoint.

Finally, I hopped on the bus back to WuDaoKou to go to the U-Center to pick up my Bee Cheng Hiang barbequed pork order. I rushed back home to my roommate for some hangout time before I head back home. I was taken aback when we arrived at the Nali Patio in SanLiTunr 三里屯. It was the best venue ever to spend this lovely night and it was definitely a white and elegant big patio filled with candles and restaurants. This must be the foreigners’ retreat here in Beijing and I would describe it as homey and romantic and really, really nice. We ate delicious Beef Quesadillas for 45RMB at The Saddle Cantina. Mexican food never tasted this great and perfect before. It was also a great place to meet some new friends from all over the world. For dessert, we walked to The Cold Stone Creamery in The Village and I got my self a well-mixed soft Coffee Ice Cream with Marshmallows with a Crispy Waffle-Like Siding for 27RMB. 

The long day ended with another discovery, the secret FuBar Bar. It is well known because of the numerous awards it received from The Beijinger but not many people know where it is. It is hidden in a hotdog store inside the Workers’ Stadium (GongRenTiYuChang) 工人体育场, which is also a short walk from The Village. Go around the back inside Stadium Dog and a secret automatic door is waiting for you. 

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