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Plan But Let Fate Take You Where You Need to Go

Beijing Longxi Hotspring Resort. Photo credit: Beijing Tourism

That's been my motto with traveling for years now: Plan when necessary (lodging, transportation) but let fate take you where you need to go. That's where the magic happens. That's when events spring into your inbox. And that's the mindset I had last week while visiting new places and/or revisiting some of my favorite places in Beijing.

As I was planning this journey, I knew of things I wanted to do, and things that sounded cool but perhaps I wouldn't do. As luck would have it, my work center had already planned a Team Building Event at Longxi Hot Spring Resort in South Beijing, the same week I would start this project.

Therefore, I took advantage of resort and spa services available. After relaxing in one of several hot spring pools, I watched the pool games from the sidelines. But before my massage, I spent a few minutes in the fish pond, which are sometimes referred to as a fish spa or having a fish pedicure.

The process: dip your feet in a pool of water that's filled with small fish. As you try to relax, the fish eat away the dead skin on your feet. It supposedly leaves newer skinned exposed. But honestly it felt like someone was tickling my feet the entire time! I lasted five minutes.

Afterwards, I treated myself to a milk and honey massage from the spa. Just as it implies, my entire body-- drenched in warm milk and soothing honey. As the masseuse pushed, pulled, stretched and kneaded my body, I couldn’t help but think, “This feels oddly amazing.” Before rinsing off though, I sat in the sauna for awhile; which allowed the mixture to penetrate my pores. It left my body totally moisturized and full of softness.

Come midweek, I went to the Most Girls Smell Good event at Yue Space -- a café, bar and live house venue near Bexinquao. I got an invite from one of the DJs. It was a two-year anniversary celebration of a feminine collective called Real Private Network featuring Beijing-based DJs playing mostly house-influenced sets. Local favorite Dirty Dishes opened the night, followed by alternative R&B songstress Fish Doll (dj set) – while Sohan mixed it up with some funky-house sounds, and Chloe and South African DJ JustSYD closed out the night.

Former Residence of Lao She. Photo credit: Beijing Tourism

Now, the official start of my ’60 in 60’ journey took me to the Lao She Memorial, former residence of 20th century writer and dramatist, Lao She (born Shu Qingchun).

The Chinese author wrote over 200 books, plays, articles, an opera, lectures and keynotes. He lived in the U.S. for a spell on a cultural grant in the 1940's, while lecturing and overseeing the English translations of some of his work. He lived at No. 19 Fengfu Hutong for 16 years before his death.

Located in West Dengshikou, the museum is a 10-minute walk to Wangfujing, the popular shopping street. After leaving the museum, I stopped at the Foreign Languages Bookstore to check for Lao She books. They have English versions of Cat Country, Mr. Ma and Son, and Rickshaw Boy. I will be adding Rickshaw Boy and Cat Country to my collection soon.

After that, quickly walked through Wangfujing Snack Street and was properly reminded of how chaotic it is. Full disclosure: I have had the fried scorpion; tastes like a dried chip.

Temple of Heaven Park. Close by Danbi Bridge (or Vermilion Steps Bridge)

On Friday, I spent a bit of my morning at Temple of Heaven Park. It's pretty amazing to have a park of this stature available in the city for less than five U.S. dollars to enter. Temple of Heaven once served as a “stage for solemn rites performed by the emperor of the time – known as the Son of Heaven, who prayed here for good harvests and sought divine clearance and atonement (Lonely Planet).

Think about it: Temple of Heaven is where emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) held Heaven Worship Ceremonies. I'm in awe every time I visit. I've been to the park numerous times: to relax, to write or to people watch. It's a peaceful oasis in this grand city. It opened to the public as a park in 1988.

Fast forward to the weekend: Attended an early birthday celebration for a friend who will be spending her special day in Malaysia. Think: Bowling party with requisite libations and trash talk at East Gate Bowling Alley. Then ending the night *cough* … morning at Club MIX. Friends and MIX is par for the course in Beijing.

And on Sunday, celebrated the birthday of another friend with a get-together after work. Followed by dancing and club hopping until 3am. Full disclosure: By the time I got into a taxi that morning, I literally applauded myself. I had been awake for nearly 48 hours with about three hours of sleep. That said, bring on week 2!


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