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  • Writer's pictureElena Stoeva

Beijing China, Day 9 - Plein Air and Alba Cafe

I woke up at 7 after going to bed at 1. Contemplated whether I want to sleep more, but got up and started packing. My destination was a park 30 minutes away by bus to do plein air (paint outside) again. In search for inspiration. It took me 30 minutes to pack. Paint supplies, snacks, water, extra clothing to cover up from the sun. I also brought two folding chairs. One to sit, the other to put my paints on. When I left home I was loaded to the point that if I fell down, I wouldn’t be able to get up.

I got to the park quick. The bus ride was nice, it passed by some well off neighborhoods and government buildings. It was 10 RNB = 1.60 USD to get in the park - Badachu.

I thought I would find just trees and green grass, but I was surprised by 9 Buddha temples and many gardens! Wasn’t prepared to walk at all. The ropes of my back back, were digging into my shoulders and it was starting to hurt. I was also carrying my purse and the two folding chairs. I had to see the temples. They weren’t too far apart and it took about an hour. Walking and carrying something heavy, actually gave me a sense of being grounded and secure. A bit odd feeling, I know. I switched carrying my backpack to the front and the ropes changed their digging position, so this was some 'relief'.

Finally, I got to a small river, walked on the rocks and set up my paints in the shade and away from people. I was relieved to sit down.

After painting for an hour I got hungry and got up, looking for food on the main alley. …..and I found a Russian store! I got so excited, but of course they didn’t speak Russian, nor English. I got some Russian bagels, at least I could read the ingredients and knew what I was eating for the first time in China!

When I got back to my spot, the sun had moved and it was burning hot. I sat down and tried to ignore the heath, covered myself with a t-shirt to protect my head. After 15 minutes I started to worry. What if I pass out from the heath and no one finds me? A few tourists walked by while I was there, so I wasn’t completely isolated. I got up and sat in the shade to clear my head. Decided to pack up and leave. Packing was also hard as it was so hot that I had to hide a couple of times in the shade. It was like being inside of an oven. Not that I have ever been.

After I took a cold shower and a nap at home, I headed to town to meet my roommate and a couple of her Australian friends for drinks. It said that the bus will take 1 hr 26 mins to get to the Cafe but I didn’t believe it was that long. It took 1hr 40 mins.

Alba had real Western food! I ordered a sandwich with beef, salami and ham + salad in a honey mustard dressing. And a bourbon. The trip was worth. The Australians were super fun to hang out. And I understand everything they say! They are very much into social politics and they don’t miss any related event. They were also up at 4 am to celebrate the national Australian liberation day at their embassy, so the night ended early, at 10 lucky for me.

We took a cab for the way home.

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