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A Beidaihe Native Returns to the Seaside Resort after 20 Years
2008-07-28 10:27:44     Xinhua

This photo taken on July 19, 2008, shows the main gate of Dove Nest Park in Beidaihe District, Qinhuangdao, northern China's Hebei Province. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/Wang Yiliang]

Beidaihe is a seaside resort in the northern Chinese city of Qinhuangdao. It is about 300 kilometers east of Beijing on the Bohai Gulf. I was born in Qinhuangdao and lived there for six years. During that period, I went to Beidaihe almost every week, especially in the summer. As I remember it, this famous resort was full of visitors, but the seawater and beach was dirty. In a word, I didn't like Beidaihe at that time.

Twenty years have passed, and this July I had a chance to return to my birthplace.

The heat in Beijing had been almost intolerable when we left, but when we arrived at the Qinhuangdao train station, the weather was cool and humid. The temperature there was in the mid-20s.

We took a taxi and rushed to our destination - Beidaihe District. On the way to our hotel, I noticed that Beidaihe had changed a lot. The streets were much wider and cleaner. Because the city had already imposed an even-odd system based on license plate numbers to keep vehicles off the roads on alternate days, the traffic conditions were very good. We could feel the gentle wind and smell the salty air which made us carefree and joyous. Then we saw a large park with trees and a huge sculpture, and later found out it was the Beidaihe Olympic Avenue Park.

Beidaihe was originally popularized by European diplomats, missionaries and businessmen around the turn of the century. About half a century later, late Chinese leader Mao Zedong visited it and liked it so much that he acquired a residence here. In subsequent years, Beidaihe became very popular as a summer getaway, and many government organizations and companies often choose it as a destination for meetings and conferences.

Middle Sea Beach and the Tiger Rock Park

After walking for about 20 minutes, we got close to the sea.

Middle Sea Beach attracts the greatest number of tourists since most of the bathing places in Beidaihe are located around this area. Visitors also are drawn to its soft sand and even tides.

Tiger Rock Park is in the center of the city. Founded in 1994, it occupies an area of 33,000 square meters. "Tiger Rock" refers to a group of variously shaped clusters of reefs along the seaside. Climbing on Tiger Rock gives you a grand view of the tide's ebb and flow. When the tide is getting high, most of the reef is immersed in the water. With the warm and humid seawater nearby, you will have a kind of special and strange feeling.

The middle beach has a broad area of sand on which you can have fun and amuse yourself to your heart's content. And at the same time you can watch tiny grains of sand slip through your fingers. It is a precious experience.

In the park, we saw a large number of visitors swimming, basking in the sun and enjoying other beach-related amusements, such as sailing, riding in motorboats, surfing and playing beach volleyball.

My friends asked me to jump into the sea. At first I refused, because I doubted that the water was clean. However, when I put my feet into the sea, I found the water to be limpid. A few strands of seaweed gently stroked my instep. Then we enjoyed a happy time of about three hours at the seaside.

The entrance fee was only eight yuan (about 1.20 U.S. dollars), but you can spend a whole day in the park. Lots of visitors were still full of enthusiasm when we left around 9 p.m.

Olympic Avenue Park

On another morning we visited the Beidaihe Olympic Avenue Park, a great place open to the public free of charge.

Walking in the park, you find yourself immersed in a strong Olympic atmosphere. Forty-five Chinese Olympic champions, including Zhuang Xiaoyan, Deng Yaping, Tian Liang, Zhang Shan, Gong Zhichao and Wang Junxia, left their fingerprints and footprints on flagstones here. Twelve Olympic champions planted maidenhair trees in the woods, and sixty-three sculptures that portray different Olympic sports events are located in every corner of the park.

The park's most spectacular structure is a 312-meter-long wall decorated by 254 relief sculptures. The granite carvings form three themes: the ancient Olympics, modern Olympics, and China and the Olympics.

Wang Jinfei, a local tour guide, says visitors like the park very much and would like to stay much longer.

But visiting the park during the day was not a good idea because of the bright sunlight. As a result, we went to the park again around 8 p.m. on the same day. This was a better idea. Most local citizens visit the park after supper. A music fountain show, which started at 8 p.m., excited the visitors.

Dove Nest Park

A famous attraction to the east of the town is the Yingjiao Stone - a steep, 20-meter (66 feet) rock shaped like an eagle perched on a cliff. Because groups of doves nest in its cracks, it is also called Dove Nest Park. The Yingjiao Pavilion sits on top the rock and is a famous place to watch the sunrise.

Birdwatchers can observe an array of migratory storks including Oriental White, Red-crowned, Hooded and White-naped storks as well as some Siberian Cranes every spring.

Visiting the park in summer is wise. The long coastline is very beautiful especially when evening comes and it fades into darkness.

The entrance fee at Dove Nest Park is 20 yuan (about 3 U.S. dollars).

Seafood

Beidaihe is notable for its shellfish, especially crabs, lobsters, cuttlefish, pike and scallops. The first day we went to Biluota Bar Park, a very famous restaurant, for a seafood barbecue. But I was disappointed, because the food there was not as delicious as I imagined it would be.

My friend said, "The most delicious Beidaihe seafood only exists in your memory!" I agreed with her.

Another day, we tried some seafood dumplings. I really loved them and ate a lot! The squill dumplings were the most delicious dumplings I had ever eaten. They came as a pleasant surprise to me, because I did not expect such a "bonne bouche."

Three days later, we left Beidaihe. The summer resort left me with a very good impression. It was not only my birthplace, but also one of the best choices for my vacation.


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