Thursday, April 4, 2013

CHAOYANG: 01 - Sanlitun


I had been to Sanlitun only once. Arriving late at night in Beijing, I roamed around that neighborhood with my luggage in tow, checked in at Sanlitun Youth Hostel, and left very early the next morning en route to Mongolia. I never really got to explore the place, which was ironic because, Sanlitun is where everyone would want to be if you are part of the party party population. I am not, so that is probably another reason. In any case, it so happened that Koryo Tours office, where the North Korean pre-tour briefing would be held, is located on that side of Beijing.


I did have a few minutes to snap some photos of the place before the briefing began. Coming from Tuanjiehu station, I first passed by the embassy area where representations of different states, such as India and Vanuatu, are located. On the other side of the road are shopping malls, the names of which I already forgot. What really caught my attention was that area they called Sanlitun Village.


Sanlitun Village stands out mainly because of the colorful Uniqlo building, with bright orange tiles that are hard to ignore even from afar. The whole area reminds me of the layout of Bonifacio Highstreet, where instead of housing all the establishments in one single and closed building, they are set up in individual blocks with the option for them to design their own facade. The Adidas shop just opposite Uniqlo opted for a metallic look while popular bookstore Page One chose a wooden theme.


One thing I regret for arriving in Beijing quite late is how I did not make it to Beijing Language and Culture University Printing Press. I was itching to get my hands on some HSK review books and more Mandarin learning materials in other languages. Did not happen. I am not that disappointed though because Beijing is fast becoming a hobby. I think it is the only city outside of the Philippines that I frequently find myself lost in, next to Kuala Lumpur, of course, though KL is more like a frequent transit point for me. So yeah, there is always a next time. I will make sure that there is a next time.


And so I made up for that by loitering at Page One. It is no Kinokuniya but it had some good collection of publications for young adults in Mandarin, which I could not really let go but had to because: a) I was overspending; and b) I no longer had space. After Page One, I just roamed around but since most of the stores did not appeal to my wants, I decided to call it a day. Like, seriously, what would I do in an Apple or Swarovski store? I would rather watch a movie, but I could also do that in Manila!


But before exploring Sanlitun Village, I was across the street camwhoring at Sanlitun Soho. If you have not heard of it, then all you have to do is Google it. It was rather popular a few months ago because of the unique look of the buildings. What is it then? I think it is a mix of residential and commercial spaces, although the real selling point of the place is, as mentioned, its design, which you can appreciate more if viewed from above. No, I did not rent a helicopter for that. I saw it online. The architecture still merits some oohs and ahs when seen from the ground. Since the place is new, not a lot of shops are open yet, which means there are many empty spaces where camwhoring would be suitable.



I also went to visit Bookworm, which is just within the vicinity. I was underwhelmed by their collection though, perhaps because I was looking for language learning materials, which is not what they are particularly known for. As a place to meetup people, however, I would really recommend it. Fancy ambiance and I think there is a mini bar in there too.


My meals were all at the hostel. I had to indulge on Yangchow Fried Rice, which I could have bought cheaper somewhere else but hey, I needed to save up energy for North Korea. No need for hassles! In any case, it is good that I still got to see another area of Beijing even when I was only in town for transit. The next time I go, the Summer Palace would be top priority. And Beijing Language and Culture University Printing Press of course!

CHAOYANG: 01 - Sanlitun

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