Given the fact that I grew up in San Diego and spent the past three years living and traveling in the tropics, experiencing the seasons change in Beijing has been a real treat for me. When I arrived here in late-February I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the cold weather. But it honestly wasn’t all that bad. I actually enjoyed the fact that I could wear warm-weather clothing again. And I loved the fact that I could wrap myself in comfy pajamas and wool socks in my apartment. Trust me, when you’re used to dealing with 80-100F degree weather on a daily basis, cold weather feels really good!
I was so nervous about the cold weather that it didn’t really occur to me that things start warming up really quickly in Beijing starting in March. It really seemed like it went from 20F degrees to 70F overnight. And with the rapid weather change all of the sudden the whole city was in full bloom.
All of the trees that had bare branches had started budding with green leaves and pretty flowers. And during the past couple weeks the air has been filled with these cotton ball-like things from all the catkins trees planted around Beijing – a bizarre annual phenomenon.
Spring might not sound exciting to some, but this is honestly the first time I’ve really experienced anything like it. Plus, catkins aside, Beijing happens to be a great place to be in spring. Not only does the city have great weather but it also has some amazing parks that are filled with pretty trees and flowers.
All I knew is that I wanted to glimpse Beijing’s famous cherry blossom trees in person. What I didn’t know is what an ordeal this simple act would end up being. It turns out one of the most famous parks in Beijing to see the cherry blossoms is Yuyuantan Park. Visitors flock to the park between late March and early May solely to see the blossoms. But being a newbie to Beijing, I didn’t quite understand what that meant.
I thought I had an original idea to visit the park so I could see these beautiful blooms in person – but it turns out I wasn’t alone. I’m pretty sure I picked the busiest day of the year to go because it was literally packed with people. When Aaron and I first approached the entrance and glimpsed an endless mob of people, we came close to turning around. But given the fact that we’d traveled for over an hour on a crowded subway to get there, we decided to suck it up and just go for it.
I know, I know, from the pictures it probably looks like this was the worst experience ever. But going on the most crowded day of the year ended up being kind of fun, not to mention memorable. I absolutely love people watching and this was the place to be for some good old-fashioned people watching.
Like many places in Asia, selfies are kind of a big deal in Beijing. And when you drop selfie-obsessed people into a pink and florally wonderland, it equals selfie central. Everybody was taking selfies from grandparents to little kids. But the best to watch were all of the teenagers who somehow knew how to pose perfectly.
Yuyuantan Park might have been a tad bit crowded but I’m glad I went. It was definitely one of those quintessential Beijing experiences!
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Would you have braved the crowds just to see the flowers?