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January Travels – Part 1

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Monday 18th January 2016, ~5:30pm

I have been travelling for a whole week now, and man, is it tiring.

I find myself on yet another train in China (this time, a nice high-speed one) bound for Guilin.

I left Shanghai last Sunday morning on a flight to Beijing, where I met Nafeesah who made her way up from Nanjing. We spent the afternoon wandering around the area we called home about three years ago, when we studied abroad at Beijing Normal University. Though there were some differences, it was a strange feeling walking around knowing where I was going in a place so far away from home and familiarity. I happily discovered one of the local jianbing makers was still there, and satisfied my craving for one of those eggy, crunchy, tasty snacks, but the day was miserably grey, gloomy and dull, giving me the feeling that the university was a ghost town. The whole afternoon was, overall, rather unpleasant, and confused me slightly as to what I had missed this place for!

Delicious Beijing jianbing!

Delicious Beijing jianbing!

Luckily, I met an old friend for dinner, which was lovely, brightening my evening and pretty much redeeming the day that had thus far been pretty miserable.

The next day was the Great Wall. I felt unsatisfied by my first visit three years ago to the most popular section of the Wall, Badaling, and wanted to visit a different section, bringing us to Mutianyu, a ~2hour journey from Beijing. In total contrast to the previous day, we got a bright sun and beautiful blue skies – a rarity for Beijing with its usually high pollution levels. The temperature remained below 0°C though.
Despite being semi-scammed on our way there, I was amused by our taxi-driver, whose response to the pollution problem was “Oh that’s nothing to worry about, the government is sorting that out right away!” – showing his innocent faith in the government.
Surprisingly, it was less cold once we were actually up on the Wall, but nevertheless, still cold, and very steep. Due to the time of year, there was little greenery, and even fewer visitors. This emptiness atop the Wall gave us some excellent picture opportunities, and luckily it was a wonderfully clear day, so visibility was high 🙂

My Wall

My Wall

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On Tuesday we visited Jingshan Park and Beihai Park, both very central, where we enjoyed scenic romantic walks through the parks, past pagodas, frozen lakes and over bridges. I also witnessed possibly my first real proper sunset in China.

View of the Forbidden City obscured somewhat by the trees...

View of the Forbidden City obscured somewhat by the trees…

Middle of Beijing

Middle of Beijing

 

Having fun in the cold

Having fun in the cold

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Frozen lakes: ice skating and sleighs

Frozen lakes: ice skating and sleighs

My first beautiful sunset in China

Catching some sun in below freezing temperatures :p

On Wednesday morning we left Beijing (and left China), on a flight to Macau. (Macau is not part of Mainland China).

Departing for Macau

Departing for Macau

To be continued…

A Nanjing Getaway – Part 1

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Sunday 8th November, ~5pm

I’m on a Chinese train on the way back to Shanghai, hopefully arriving in about 40 minutes. It’s been 3 hours so far on the train, where we played a game of Cluedo – which I won (it was Miss. Scarlett in the lounge with the revolver), and thereafter attempted to nap. Before the Cluedo game, a saleswoman was promoting some cucumber-slicing tool, by going around the carriage with a cucumber and peeling/slicing instrument, explaining how to use it and what benefits cucumber has on your skin. (Answer: it whitens it — skin-whitening is a huge thing in China). I guess she got excited when she came to our booth and found not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 foreigners; and so when I asked her what exactly it was she was selling, she responded by slicing me a thin ‘layer’ of cucumber, putting it on the back of my hand, and saying “it will make your skin white!”. (Yes! There is hope for me yet!)
She then proceeded to cut some for all of us, while I responded: “but I kinda like my current skin, I don’t wanna make it white…”, to which she chuckled, already halfway down the carriage, and won me turned heads and curious stares from about half of the carriage.

The de-browning process

The de-browning process

 

On Thursday, I arrived in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, on a high-speed/bullet train from Shanghai, which took under 90minutes and reached speeds of about 300kmh.

Bullet trains - 300kmh

Bullet trains – 300kmh

I met up with Nafeesah, we didn’t do much sightseeing that day, until nighttime, when we went in search of a night market with a famous reputation online, only to find out after arriving at the location that it had closed down a few years ago. Oops.

Friday, however, was a beautiful, hot day; we visited the famous Purple Mountain Scenic Area (紫金山). The first stop was a shuttle to get to Sun Yat-Sen’s Mausoleum, where we climbed and climbed to reach a not-incredibly-interesting statue of Sun Yat-Sen, but a pretty view, albeit a rather foggy one. The pictures make it look foggier than the reality, though.

Starting point

Starting point

 

First glimpses

First glimpses

 

Halfway up

Halfway up

 

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From the top, looking down

 

There were ladybirds EVERYWHERE; on our backs, arms, faces, heads, shoulders, bags, everywhere. Black with red spots, red with black spots, orange with black spots, all the colours.

Count the ladybirds

After going back down, we bought tickets for the cable car, met a Chinese guy whose English name was ‘Relax’, and who was also visiting the site, so we headed to the cable car area together. After walking through the trees for about 20 minutes, he declared that it was another couple of kilometres, and wasn’t really walkable, so we got in a taxi, made it to the cable car boarding spot and man – it was a scenic ride.
The leaves on the tress were in full Autumn colours: reds, oranges and greens that I thought I wouldn’t be seeing this year!

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We reached the observatory spot, but didn’t realise we were just meant to lift up the metal bar ourselves and let ourselves off, so we continued up to the top of the line, disembarked to admire the view and be attacked by ladybirds left, right and centre, and all of the other 16 directions. We tried to walk up the hill that claimed to lead to the peak, but ended up at a green gate, for military personnel only…. Seems dodgy.

On the cable car down, we jumped off ourselves this time at the only other stop, to visit the Zijinshan Astronomical Observatory (Purple Mountain Observatory). There we saw samples of rocks that had been found around China, as well as other countries, that had come from space. Apparently. I must admit, I wasn’t entirely convinced by most of them, but I guess I wouldn’t know what a piece of the moon looks like up close. I just didn’t expect it to look like a marble tile like this:

On display as a piece of the moon...

A piece of the moon on display…

It was made more ‘believable’ by the prices of some other rock pendants that were on sale for only 50RMB per gram…

Convincing

Astronomical pendants

 

We saw some interesting astronomical instruments, enjoyed the truly beautiful view from the rooftop and decided to ditch the cable car, and walk back down.

This is an armillary sphere. It was used for determining the positions of celestial bodies in ancient China. Don't ask  me how.

This is an armillary sphere. It was used for determining the positions of celestial bodies in ancient China. Don’t ask  me how.

 

And this is a 'gnomon', or so the sign said.

And this is a ‘gnomon’, or so the sign said. The shadows produced supposedly indicate when it’s the solstice.

 

View from the top of the Observatory

View from the top of the Observatory

 

Incredible autumnal colours

Incredible autumnal colours

 

By the time we got down, it was getting dark and we found a bus going back to the city, went to meet a friend at the railway station who was joining for the weekend, grabbed some dinner and headed back to the hostel after an exhausting day.

 

On Saturday morning the weather surprised us; the 12⁰C cold was far from the 25⁰ we’d experienced the previous day, but we continued with our plan to visit Xuanwu Lake, which I absolutely loved. It was so quiet and peaceful inside the park, a welcome break from the bustle and noise of city life.

Xuanwu Lake/Park

Xuanwu Lake/Park

 

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A little bonsai collection

A little bonsai collection

 

Inside the park we saw a man practising Taiqi to his own little music player, and the whole scene just made me feel so peaceful. It was the kind of thing you might imagine China to be like from inaccurate movies etc, which depict everyday life in China as being tea-drinking, Taiqi-practising, country life in beautiful green surroundings.

People's wishes, dreams and prayers hanging on red strips

People’s wishes, dreams and prayers hanging on red strips

Someone representing!

Someone representing!

If it had not been cold and wet, we would probably have gone on those huge hanging swing rides 😀

The lake/park area and the Purple Mountain are places I wouldn’t mind coming back to. After lunch, we went to the Presidential Palace, which was nice enough, but not exactly riveting in my opinion, as I feel like it’s very similar to all other such places I’ve seen before. We had planned to visit the Confucius Temple after the Palace, followed by the famous night market around it, but by the time we were done at the Palace, daylight hours were almost up, so instead we headed straight to dinner and then the night market.

You can never evade the Chinglish

You can never evade the Chinglish

 

Inside the Presidential Palace

Inside the Presidential Palace

 

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Not so secret anymore...

Not so secret anymore…

 

Night market things

Night market things

 

5:45pm – I think we’re almost there so Part 2 will follow soon!

Xinjiang: Urumqi, Day 1

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It’s been a while since I posted. Again. As mentioned in my last post, my laptop has been totally unusable from a few days after final exams finished, then I was off travelling, and then the last week in China was pretty hectic anyway. Yes, I’m now back in London, but I can still say that I was in Beijing last week! That’s something, right?! I arrived back last Friday evening, and… I already miss China. It feels very surreal (still), and I have this feeling like I’m still supposed to be going back. I can’t be staying here, like, permanently now,  can I…?

Don’t get me wrong, London is an amazing place to live and I love it (don’t talk to me about prices, don’t talk to me about prices, don’t talk to me about prices….) but my year abroad in China has been full of so many amazing (and some less so amazing) experiences and I am 100% glad I did it. No regrets whatsoever. More of that later, maybe. But for now, I’m gonna go back almost a month to the 11th of June – the start of my travels to China’s far West: Xinjiang.

During our travels, I wrote the old-fashioned way, on paper – so here goes typing it up and inserting pictures, of which there are many!

Arrival in Urumqi

After landing at the airport in Urumqi, one of the first things I noticed that I thought was pretty cool was seeing signs in Chinese, Uyghur AND English.

Good English, as usual…

We made it onto a shuttle bus into the city, on which the only seats remaining were one right at the back squashed between luggage and the men to which the luggage belonged, and one seat up at the front next to the driver. Coordinating where we should get off wasn’t made any easier this way, shouting across the minibus, earning us stares from the other passengers. Nevertheless, by the time we got off somewhere on the road our hotel was on, both Beth and I already loved the city. Unfortunately, local buses still confused us, after getting on two that didn’t get us to the right place, we took a taxi…which drove about 2 minutes back up the road, and dropped us off opposite our hotel.

After dropping our stuff, we decided to go to one of the city’s main parks which wasn’t too far from us, Hongshan Park (Red mountain park), named for a red pagoda at the top of a hill inside the park. As soon as we left the hotel and made to cross the road, Beth grabbed my arm and shouted “CAKES!” and started pulling me towards a little shop she’d noticed just a couple of doors away from our hotel. Of all the little bakeries and similar places I’ve seen in China (mostly Beijing) this one was by far the best…it could win on one factor alone: It was clean.

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The fact that the cakes/biscuits were tasty and looked delicious was just a bonus 🙂

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We bought a few each, sat down and ate, at which point I counted all the different baked goods on sale and panicked when I reached 30, realising that would mean eating 10 a day if I wanted to try them all before we left Urumqi. Yeah…they were that good.

This little bakery was where we learnt our first word of Uyghur: Thank you – which is pronounced ‘rahmet’.

As we were entering the park, we saw a guy selling yoghurt…and decided to buy some. We realised that if we wanted to keep eating this way, we might as well forget set mealtimes. Who needs mealtimes anyway, when you have so much to choose from all the time… and so little time to actually choose?

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A cooling yoghurt snack/drink

He filled cups with cold yoghurt out of his mobile fridge, added sugar and nuts on top, and only half-smiled when we said ‘rahmet’. But when we asked if he could tell us how to say ‘tasty’ in Uyghur, he smiled more and replied: I don’t know, I’m not Uyghur, I’m Hui.
Oops.

Hongshan Park is lovely: white picket fences, plenty of shady greenery, a bit of a fairground inside, including but not limited to a ferris wheel, from the top of which we had a (clear, unpolluted!!) view of most of the city. From the top of the hill where the pagoda stood, there was this sign on a railing, beyond which was a rocky drop down to the main road…

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Beyond the railing

The sign on the railing

The sign on the railing

I don’t think anyone who wanted to cherish their life would willingly try to cross that road…from up there.

On another part of the railing, there were countless padlocks crammed onto any free space, engraved (scratched, to be more accurate) with the names of friends or couples… Beth correctly pointed out the romance in what the padlocks symbolised in terms of relationships.

After the park, we tried to find the well known International Bazaar because the hotel reception desk had told us that the Wuyi Night Market (famous for its many different food stalls) had closed down, something we  had not come across in our research. We found another small bakery on the way to the bazaar, got caught in a torrential downpour and incredible winds that pretty much forced us back inside the shops, which were selling headscarves and abayas! That’s not what you think of when someone says China, right?

And what about this scene? (The picture doesn’t do it justice, take my word for it: it was beautiful!)

Beautiful scene

Beautiful twilight scene

The stormy weather meant that we found a little underground market, but didn’t find the actual International Bazaar. I went into a mosque to pray, the first time I’d done that in a long time. Trying to avoid the storm meant that it had become quite late by the time we got back to the hotel. Lots of places started closing what we thought was quite early, but maybe this was because of the weather, rather than the time?

By the end of Day 1, or even halfway through the day, Beth and I have both already decided that we are coming back to this city. That’s gotta say something about the place.

Beth’s input
“I want to live here forever. I want to get a padlock and go with my hypothetical boyfriend to lock the padlock onto the railings in Hongshan Park and then go back after I’m married to find it. And therefore I have to live in Urumqi when I’m older!”

Good logic there.

Attempting to describe Urumqi, I’d say it’s definitely much greener than expected, we both expected barren deserts or something, it’s definitely much greener than Beijjng, there are way less people, it’s hilly (Xinjiang is a mountainous region) and the air is fresher! There are less people smoking, less dogs (in fact, I can hardly remember seeing any today), no spitting spotted yet, and there are dessert places! Yum! Urumqi is a city with a totally different look to any of the other Chinese cities I’ve visited.

Nuts, raisins, chocolates – clean and tidy!

A painted electricity box, showing a woman holding Xinjiang’s famous ‘nang’ (naan)

It’s a lovely city with a friendly vibe, beautiful weather, a bustling lifestyle and plenty of small cake shops to satisfy those sweet cravings 🙂

Bakery no. 2!

To positivity!

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Well, what a difference a day makes… A few days, even – because over the last few days, I’ve definitely reconciled myself with the fact that despite the approaching deadlines being such a bad way to end a year abroad on, and despite the fact that so many of us are just looking forward to going home, myself included, there is no escaping the fact that time is running out, and it’ll never come back. So seeing as going back home is determined for that date, why not really go for it and actually ENJOY what time is still left? Because I’m sure before I know it, I’ll be back in London, full of regrets for having let those last few weeks slip by, and well, in the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.

I started out saying that this blog would include my feelings and thoughts while in China; if it’s the case that my feelings and thoughts happen to be negative and that’s what I want to record, so be it. I’m not going to censor out the bad and only include the good, if that’s not the case. I want it to be a true representation of how I feel/felt during the course of my year abroad. There have been good and bad times in equal measure… definitely more good than bad actually, but the bad tends to stick out, doesn’t it? However, the current of melancholy that’s been running through some of the more recent posts ends now.

Besides, there is still so much more to tell, I still haven’t written about some major tourist spots, such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City (from way back in October, when my parents came!, and which I don’t remember details of clearly now… ), or the more recent trips from the Labour Day holiday, when I went to the Olympic Forest Park (beautiful) and Happy Valley Amusement Park (let’s not try summarise this in a single bracket just yet…)

Anyway, London exists in Beijing too…

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There’s no phone inside, but let’s continue pretending you hadn’t noticed…

Photos taken at the ‘Water Cube’, Beijing’s National Aquatics Centre, constructed for the 2008 Olympics.

Optimism is an attitude that will serve me well for the next few weeks!
To positivity! Ganbei! (Cheers, in Chinese 🙂 )

Adventures on the bus

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The original plan
Pick a random bus, ride it all the way to the end, and then get off. Find yourself in some new, unexplored and fascinating part of Beijing. Wander around, and get to know this exciting new place, before finding another bus and repeating the process. At some point, think about finding your way home.

What actually happened
As planned, we did find ourselves in a new and unexplored part of Beijing. Fascinating, however, was something it was not. We proceeded to wander… soon got bored of the motorway, found another bus stop, and tried again.

Yes, it was totally unplanned – but that was the idea! Spontaneous, impulsive…and possibly a little stupid. And alright, so we didn’t find the most exciting places, I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I’m glad we did it anyway!!

I was telling a friend back home about what we planned to do, who replied: “Ahh you’ve taken so long to do that. Most people do that within the first few weeks!” Strange. In my first few weeks in Beijing, taking a random bus and essentially, getting lost, was not at the top of my agenda. (In hindsight though, knowing the city a bit better, as we do now, makes this better anyway!)

We had a vague idea of what area of Beijing we wanted to head to, which was the southwest, since we’re in the northwest corner of the city (yep, just like home :)) and we’ve been to places in all the other vague directions. So yesterday (Sunday), at the bus stop outside campus, we stood and analysed the bus routes of those heading south, and picked one that went through Niujie (Ox Street) which is the Muslim area, and ended somewhere even further down. The bus came, we got on, and indeed, headed south. In a totally straight line. On a completely straight road. For quite a long time. We got overly excited when the bus made a right turn! And then turned north… and then west again, before continuing south. By this point, we were passing through Niujie. It was much smaller than we remembered, though to be fair, we had been walking the last time we’d come here. However, I hadn’t realised how strong the Uighur influence was here, until I saw a little China Mobile shop, with Uighur script on their shop front!
We finally got chucked off the bus at our unplanned destination, and the first thing we saw outside the stop was a Wu Mart (supermarket). We thought we might as well head in, because… well, supermarkets are adventures in themselves. Something amusing I found inside:

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Am I missing something here? What is the connection between forks and batteries?

We walked a bit further, and then admitted that we weren’t particularly impressed by the place we had ended up in. There were a few shops, and buildings, but mostly just road. And nothing that really caught our attention… apart from another bus stop. And this very pink blossom tree:

If this picture spoke a thousand words...

Just what we came to see..

Again, we inspected the bus routes at the next bus stop we came across, and chose a bus that went west and then north from where we currently were, and ended up further northwest from where we’re based. We decided we’d get off before the end though (cos that hadn’t really worked well for us the first time), at Haidian Park, firstly because we didn’t really want to go all the way out to the end, and secondly because not only would a park be nice compensation, Haidian is the district of Beijing in which we live.

Because this is China and our plans don’t work out (I’m not complaining, this is kinda how I’d imagined this day to go in the first place!), we got off at the stop named Haidian Park… and didn’t see any park. We walked all the way around the block, and realised that we actually knew where we were! If we walked further out, we’d end up near the Summer Palace. This actually pleased me: knowing where we were after having got off the bus at a random stop. It made me feel like I was actually getting to know my way around this huge city! We knew this because we’d come to the Summer Palace a few weeks ago – courtesy of a bus that had very recently put a new stop outside Nafeesah’s accommodation. Clearly, that bus was to be our ticket home. We enjoyed a nice walk to the nearest stop we knew, and actually, I was happy. Walking around seemingly aimlessly and then realising that you actually knew where you were going – not a bad feeling! If I can replicate this in other areas of the city, then I really will feel like I’m able to say to people that I lived in Beijing for a year, and yes, I do actually know my way around! (Because, really, I should know my way around a city I’ve been living in for a year, right? Let’s conveniently ignore the fact that I don’t know my way around London at all, regardless of the fact that I’ve lived there for 19years).

On the bus home, the aircon fan above us:

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“Only offering to open”

Well, that was the end of that ‘adventure’. As I said, not quite what I expected, but then, what should I have expected? We decided that we should plan this spontaneous and impulsive activity better next time (yes, there will be a next time!). I also decided that I want to go visit some other universities, especially the more famous ones like Peking University, and Qinghua University.  It might sound strange and boring, but it’s quite common practice here, and some university campuses are actually really nice! My ulterior motive, though, is to check out the competition in terms of Muslim canteens 😉

Only in China

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Just a couple of amusing ‘Chinglish’ pictures.

Something I’d seen in Chaoyang Park:

Oxymoronic, much?

Oxymoronic, much?

Walking home from uni one day:

Please, keep your pet pigs to yourself, thank you.

Please, keep your pet pigs to yourself, thank you.

Would you ever, ever see that in London?

T-shirts on sale in the night market:
(Poor picture quality is because I took it on my phone)

dgs

No comment.

 

And, please! There’s gotta be something against this:

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Wannabe Ferrero Rochers?!

Brrr, where’s Summer??

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I feel like we’re in a position right now of just waiting, waiting for the weather to get better. Apart from the freak snow about three weeks ago now (it was 10days ago when I started writing this…oops), the weather’s been pretty cool but not absolutely freezing. It’s not yet quite nice enough to go and enjoy the parks, which are really a Summer thing, but we’ve counted out how many weeks we have left in Beijing and we really, really just wanna make the most of it now.
So, two weekends ago, we somewhat impulsively decided to go to the Summer Palace, partly also because that was the last week of low season prices; from the beginning of April, all the prices of tourist places go up, to the summer high-season prices (which, in this case, isn’t actually that much higher). Due to the day being pretty polluted and smoggy, meaning that we couldn’t see that much, we actually spent a lot more time there climbing  the rocks leading up to one of the main palace buildings,  obeying the rules posted on signs:

I wonder what that sign says..

I wonder what that sign says…

I’m sorry, but they were just made for climbing. I actually had a lot of fun 😀

We didn’t really go and look at or appreciate all the must-sees of the Summer Palace, i.e. the 17-arch bridge, and all of the actual Palace buildings, but I’m going to attempt to justify that now. I think that it’s a benefit of living here as opposed to just being tourists here, because while we also want to do the tourist stuff, we can go to a place like the Summer Palace and not feel pressured to have to do it all in one go.  Ultimately, we decided we’d come back to the Summer Palace when Summer actually hits. I accept that it sounds a bit inefficient, but it’s not as if we started out with the intention of going back; it just so happened that the weather wasn’t satisfactory to allow us to enjoy the rest of the Palace. (Also, I admit, it’s not called the Summer Palace for nothing…)

Here are some pictures to act as evidence of the amazing time we had at the Summer Palace, not in the Summer.

The Long Corridor, Summer Palace

The Long Corridor, Summer Palace

hh

Not only are we supposed to help protect this ‘cultural relic’ of which there is no description, we are also supposed to help protect the railings. Okay, China.

The weekend before, we went to Chaoyang Park, and whereas the Summer Palace day was a really grey day, the day we went to Chaoyang Park was much brighter and sunnier. (An aside: it’s amusing when I hear stories of people’s holiday – “The water is so clear, we can see the fish through it!”. My response is usually quite tight-lipped: “That’s really great… I’m so happy for you! It sounds amazing :)” When what I’m really thinking is “We can’t even see people through the air in front of us”)

Chaoyang Park, like a lot of Beijing’s parks, is huge. There is an amusement park within the park grounds, and for anyone who doesn’t know, I LOVE amusement parks. There are three in Beijing, as far as research has told us, and we’re leaving what we think seems like the ‘best’ till last. I sincerely hope we are correct in our judgements, because I’m really expecting better than this next time. Although there were a couple of rides that looked like they could be decent, I felt that they were way overpriced for what they were. There was one roller-coaster that included a loop-the-loop, but I’m not sure if it can even qualify as a roller-coaster, because that’s pretty much all it did! When you pay 40yuan (~£4.50) for a single ride that lasts all of about 30 seconds, and lacks that thrill, you can’t help but feel a bit ripped off.

We went on a grand total of three rides, the third and final one was this ride, which looked fun from where we stood on ground level…

We're actually in this picture ^

There we are, in one of only three occupied seats (if I recall correctly) on the whole ride

Not only were we just dizzy, being spun around high up in the air, the cold air meant cold wind blowing in our faces, eyes watering, noses running, face freezing… And while we thought the other two rides were over much too quickly, this one seemed to drag on. Still, it was fun.

Here are pictures of the freak snow we enjoyed! It was much better than any other times it has snowed in Beijing, not only was there a lot of it, it made Beijing look really very pretty!! I’m also convinced that the air seemed fresher and cleaner, clear blue skies were definitely visible!  (Speaking of, a few days ago, the pollution level was down to a PM2.5 level of 30!!  Compared to the extremely dangerous levels of 500+ recorded earlier this year, this is extremely good news!)

Winter Wonderland, right outside my building!

Winter Wonderland, right outside my building!

Walking to uni for 8am class was just made so much better

Walking to uni for 8am class was just made so much better – just look at those trees!

Someone tell me that's not a pretty sight :)

Someone tell me that’s not a pretty sight 🙂

If only London dealt with snow this well..

If only London dealt with snow this well..

Bicycles on campus

The icing on the ca…mpus bicycles.

This was a sort of catch-up post, talking about the weekend before last, and the one previous to that. Next post, covering last weekend (Tomb Sweeping Day) coming soon!