Home : China Guide : Beijing : Shicha Lake
Shicha Lake, to the southwest of the Drum Tower, was called the Great Lake (Dapozi) in the Yuan Dynasty. Weeping willows line its shores, and rowboats fill its waters.
It's seven pm on a summer's evening by Shichahai Lake, central Beijing. A welcome breeze whispers across the lake, and the ruddy vestiges of sunset linger on roofs and treetops. A low hum emanates from bars on the lakeshore packed with young people chatting, drinking and generally relaxing as wood pigeons coo overhead. In the past two years Shichahai's bars have multiplied from three to a dozen, making the place as well known a night spot as eastern Beijing's Sanlitun bar street in the embassy district. But in contrast to the thoroughly trendy Sanlitun bar street just five kilometers away, Shichahai still has the ambience of an ancient city, despite its modern setting.
The view from any Shichahai bar resembles a watercolor. The lake waters ripple and glitter around the many lotuses floating on its surface. Willows line the bank like a misty green curtain, as a trickle of people cross the 1,000-year-old bridge. The high walled, narrow lanes resonate with the evening bustle. Behind them are the silhouettes of the former residences of historic personages, and of the bell and drum towers.
The traditional way of life and culture in Beijing has in the past decade been superseded by the drive to get ahead and compete with the West. The tempo of life in the capital has generally accelerated, and the majority of hutong -- the narrow alleyways synonymous with urban Beijing -- have been demolished to make way for tower blocks and highways. Those remaining often appear incongruous against Beijing's metropolitan backdrop. Shichahai has, however, retained its original outlook and atmosphere. Dating from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the cluster of palaces, temples, guild halls and civil residences around the Shichahai waters remain largely intact, thanks to consistent maintenance and repair.
|Beijing Tour Packages