Most of the time, ‘beautiful” is not a word commonly used to describe the city of Beijing, my adopted home. It’s overcrowded. The architecture is out of control– ranging from Stalinist to classical Chinese, and often to some variations of the two. The traffic is terrible, and the sky is normally varying shades of grey or white. I have a friend in the States who recently bought a new car that is greenish grey. When I first saw it, I said “Beijing Sky! That’s the name of that color.”
But every once in awhile a strong wind blows through and drives out the muck and clears the skies. When that happens, the mountains come out, (Lots of people live here for a long time and don’t even know that there are mountains around Beijing.), we pleasantly discover that Beijing can actually be quite a lovely city, at least from certain vantage points.
Yesterday was one of those days, and so when we saw the crystal blue skies, a friend and I grabbed our cameras and headed into the middle of the city, to a hill called “Coal Hill.” It’s a man-made hill (all physical features in Beijing – lakes, hills, rivers- are man-made) built just to the north of the Forbidden City, home to Chinese emperors since the 13th century. It’s not very high, but higher than anything around it, so is a great spot from which to view the city.
This picture is looking to the northwest, toward The Fragrant Hills. The lake in the foreground is in Beihai Park. (click on the photo to see the larger version)