Tianjin(天津), a city located somewhere to the East of Beijing was quite the city. Last October 10, me and my friends decided to take a spur-of-the-moment one-day trip to this place. Though not really a tourist spot, Tianjin was a wonderful place to spend a one-day trip with the company of friends. From Beijing, we took the subway to this train station (connected from the subway) and took our 30-45 minute bullet train. This was my first time taking the bullet train, so I was quite excited. Funny thing actually, me and my friends almost missed the train. We were heading down the elevator, me and some friends ahead of our other friends, and when we got down to the platform beside the train (amazed at the train and everything, taking pictures and whatnot) we noticed that the departure time was about the same time as our watches. We frantically ran to the cars that corresponded to our tickets as we weren’t all on the same side of the train.
Cost of bullet train (one way): Around 58rmb [don’t quite remember if this is the student price]
Upon our arrival in Tianjin, we took a bus to a stop near the quite famous tower. From the stop, we could see the tower clearly, well besides the foggy sky. I heard from a friend that this tower has a revolving restaurant, so if ever I go back to Tianjin, that’s something I’d like to try.
After a few pictures, me and my friends made our way to this popular place called 水上公园 (Shui Shang Gong Yuan), which is a pretty big park popular with both couples and families. It has lakes, boats, and various other infrastructures within it that makes it an amazing place to visit and to enjoy. With no entrance fee included, you could check out the various available enjoyments one can do while there.
The park was filled with so many different kinds of flowers. Also, there are various fountains located across the entrance of the park. Deeper into the park, you can glance at the beautiful trees that decorate the old Chinese styled infrastructure within the park. There’s even a kids’ town area where kids can go to have fun. There’s even a ferris wheel at the garden park with a line of small pavilions decorating the lakeside as families and friends go to enjoy the view.
It’s definitely a place to bring your family and friends to when visiting Tianjin. The atmosphere is also quite calming and the environment is definitely cheerful. As it was a Sunday, we saw many family members enjoying the park with their small children. Young teens and adults were on the other hand enjoying the place with their friends. At this certain area of the park. we got to see children and adults on roller blades, practicing and enjoying each others’ company. I think some of the more advance skaters were even giving free lessons. They were demonstrating how to go around a line of cups placed on the ground, it was amazing. Another part of the park, which is a bit more intimate, was an interesting site. There were a lot of couples in bridal wear (gowns for the girls and suits for the guys). Me and my friends were wondering if they were shooting for a magazine or maybe having their wedding photos down, but it was beautiful. You could see women in gowns, on the grass, posing with men in suits. We saw more than 5 couples strewn across the grass in the area with various photographers and assistants in tow.
For lunch, me and my friends went to this food place. It was a fairly large building with 4 different entrances. Inside were various restaurants, food stalls, offering different kinds of food. Since Tianjin is located somewhere beside the sea, there were a lot of seafood available there for sale, or for choice of food for restaurant. There were also lots of small snacks for sale (not the usual ones of course), and even souvenir items. With about 2 floors patterned like a cross or a road intersection, there were really lots of choices. Unfortunately, I can’t recall the name of the place so I can’t really mention or recommend this place. But if you can find a local who is familiar with the place I mentioned above, maybe you can make a visit here to see if the place is a good place to enjoy good food as well.
After our lunch, we made our way to this certain area in the city that had a lot of stuff for sale. It was something like an old Chinese town area, like a market. They even had some of those infrastructures you see in old Chinese movies where there’s a long road with buildings put close to each other on each side, people selling things on the road side and where you can go in for tea, or for food, or for entertainment. People there were selling so many items, from sets of calligraphy brushes, to those Chinese stamps, to very Chinese-looking souvenir items to jade, it was really its own mini-Chinese market. There were also food stalls selling cotton candy, and even one to two stalls selling hand-crafted edible food. You ask them to make a design like a fish or dragon, and with this yellow sticky substance, they outline the thing you want drawn. And afterwards, you get to eat it! Of course, that’s after everyone has seen the very artistic work the artist does. There was also a small temple shrine inside.
After our marketplace experience, we took taxis to another area of the city with various European architecture. It was heaven for me! This certain area of the city had streets full of European houses (not the big ones, but lined one after another), some were residential houses and some were restaurants and even hotels. We went to this one place that was renting out various vehicles. You could take a nice horse-drawn carriage ride, or you could take a two or four person bike, and there was even this car-ish like vehicle. The price was around 50-100rmb/hour (if I remember correctly) depending on which vehicle you took. One hour is enough to go around the neighborhood. The store even offers a map of the area, though it’s pretty confusing to go around the place, and one has to watch out for cars because they just come in and out of the roads. Also there’s one part of the map that covers a main road that heads into the a busy city street so people on bikes and such have to be wary.
By the time we finished, it was already evening. We went to this long river area where they had a ferris wheel. For 50rmb per person for 30 minutes (one whole rotation), you can take a ferris wheel ride on this really huge ferris wheel. It’s about 6 people per carriage, though people who are with their special someone can buy a ticket worth 300rmb which allows you to rent one entire carriage instead of sharing it with (possible) strangers. The view is not so majestic as there are no gardens or parks beside it, but you get a good view of the long river. Plus it’s fun to see yourself rising into the sky because you can see other parts of Tianjin that you might not see on foot. Our trip on the ferris wheel was well-timed because somewhere in the distance, there was a fireworks display so from where we were, we had a pretty good view of the fireworks, without the obstruction of buildings and such.
Cost of the ferris wheel ride: 50rmb/person
We weren’t able to take the boat ride as we had run out of time, but it looked to be an interesting experience from our point-of-view above.
After a whole day’s worth of going around, we made our way back to the train station to take the bullet train back to Beijing. Across from the place where we bought the tickets, we were able to appreciate this wonderful set of buildings, European styled (?) that was lit up! The pictures I took give this place no justice, it was really a beautiful sight. Lots of people were just there in the square, either enjoying the company of friends, or waiting for their trains to arrive since this place was just across the train depot station.
Tianjin was really an amazing place. Not a tourist destination like those famous places like the Great Wall or Three Gorges, but it was still an amazing place to see, especially within China. Not everything in China is traditional or modern, it’s great to be able to see how a culture and a people who have a history that has lasted for more than a thousand years can have a mix of these different things within their cities. Not only is it just a Chinese-only kind of environment, there are mixes of other cultures whose influences have seeped through over the years. Things like this make you realize just how amazing China is, that all these places at one point in time (and even until now), continue to come to China to seek so many things. Merchants who in the past talked very highly of China, and the people who lived here, and presented back to their people the amazing items that the East had to offer, to modern society which continues to praise China and the people and society that continues to grow despite the various obstacles that it’s had to go through over the years, I can’t help but still be amazed.
If one is in Beijing for a while, with no other places to go to in the City, why not take the time to visit Tianjin. Less than an hour away (one-way), it’s a great place to enjoy yourself for a day. And you can come back to Beijing within the same day, so it’s really a place to consider heading to!