Ritan Park on a Sunny Day

The air and skies in Beijing tend to spend most of their time horribly grey, dustry, and polluted.

However, every great once in a while, you get a gloriously sunny day, such as today. We took advantage of the opportunity to head down to the local park we hang at most days and take some lovely photos.

It's called Ritan Park (日坛公园), which mean "sun altar" or temple.

The park costs 1RMB (== 12¢) to get in (a monthly pass costs 3RMB, 37¢), and is entirely worth it. It's an oasis of nice in a rather gritty and grey city.

[Click on any photo for a larger view]
Entrance booth, where the nice ladies give you the tickets.
There are a lot of rules to the park, however. Too bad we can't read any of them.
There are a tonne of trees here, and the leaves are new in the last couple of weeks. When we left for Sanya, there was absolutely nothing.
Oooh, bathrooms. Plug your nose first.
Ooooh, foo-foo yoga centre!
This is the "slaughter pavilion". They used to kill the animals that they would eat in this place. Pretty swanky.
Now there's just a couple of nice benches. Have a nice reeeeesssstttt.
The pagoda-like buildings in this country are, of course, quite cool.
We never have been here at night, something that might be worth checking out.
On a nice day, there are tonnes of people here.
One of the cool things they have all over the city are these little torture-parks.
They're basically places with machines and contraptions for various types of exercise. You can stretch muscles, get some cardio workings-out, and otherwise keep in shape.
And -everybody- uses them here. They're usually packed, especially first thing in the morning.
I constantly see old ladies and men here stretching their legs up above their heads. Awesome.
They're all simple mechanical machines, and every bit as effective as the 1000$ machines in any western gym.
This is my favourite: It's the SPINE-INATOR. You just "do the twist" on this, and your back gets all crackly. Oooooh.
There's a rock climbing wall here too, although it tends to only be open on the weekends.
oooh, look at this manly man working his way up without any safety ropes.
Lots o' pretty flowers and things this time of spring. This is, apparently, wisteria. Isn't that like a bad Def Leppard album or something?
The telephone booths here are like cool insects.
Plenty of helpful signs telling you where to go.
Next stop, the Circular Mound Altar, which is a giant circular enclosure with a mound-y-like altar in the middle. (go figure).
Kite flying is all the rage in this country, and the big open area makes a great place to do it.
That's the altar-y thing in the middle.
Here's a crappy panorama I took of the whole circular enclose while standing on the altar.
Ima have to come back and try my hand at kite flying one of these days. They're quite cheap, and it's usually quite windy here.
They have quite luscious gardens here, and there's a constant army of people working at keeping them nice.
Cool cart.
This giant rock thingie is pretty sweeet.
There are a couple of man-made hills with pagodas on them.
This is the largest and highest of the pagodas.
Springtime rocks.
There were a bunch of restauranteurs here today taking an English lesson. Learning such key phrases as "the cake contains peaches", and more!
It's kind of like being in a park in New York or Tokyo -- it's completely quiet and peaceful, but there's a huge bustling city just outside the walls.
We're in the Chaoyang district, which is where many of the Olympic events will be, and construction is simply insane here.
The sad thing about Chinese writing is that there are four or five ways to write any given character (different styles of writing, calligraphy, etc). So even if I know what a character means, if it's written (like these), I have no idea how to read it.
Weird elephant like bug !!!
There's even a man-made pond in the park.
With a cool little rock formation thingie.
It's relaxing place to hang, evidently.
The fishing here is pretty funny -- you pay then to put a huge fish in the water for you, and then you go and catch it.
There's also a nice overpriced café here.
And a few restaurants.
That's a mural of the king praying to the sun gods.
More ponds, this one with little gold fish in it.
There's an amusement park for children here, also only open on weekends.
Coool kite!
MmmMmmm ... gelato! (冰激凌 in the local lingo).
With so many kites flying around, and with strong winds, this park is also where old kites come to die.
The park is also a nice place to just come and do some homework.
Cool round door. This used to be a bell tower, but is now a yoga centre.
And we've completed our circle. What a nice walk.