Yesterday Steven Pinkert, his friend Peter Jiang, and Peter’s mother and father, took a drive to the northwest side of Beijing to visit Fragrant Hills Park. Fragrant Hills Park is located in the eastern section of Beijing’s western hills and is about a hour drive from Beijing’s CBD (Central Business District) – depending upon traffic which is frequently a nightmare in Beijing.
Fragrant Hills Park was begun in the 12th century by the Jin Dynasty and expanded by subsequent dynasties. There are paths up to the summit with an elevation of about 1800 feet and all the paths are full of cultural relics, beautifully preserved structures and some exquisite foliage. Although the author, Steven Pinkert, has been to Beijing some 40 times he has never see this fantastic park before this weekend in Beijing.
As it is an early Spring weekend the park had thousands of visitors – a mixture mostly of Chinese from all over China. Most people visit the park by bus and there is a large bus station adjacent to the park. Parking as in most of Beijing is extremely difficult so any alternative to driving is recommended. Taxis are a possibility but I have no idea how difficult it will be to locate a return taxi. The taxi ride will be quite expensive and locating taxis, particularly outside the Central Business District, can frequently be a serious challenge. During this past week Steven Pinkert typically waited over 30 minutes for a taxi from the hotel and from other locations!
After a long and exhilarating walk Steven Pinkert was a bit winded. The elevations of some of the walks are quite steep but there are also many level walks to choose from. The highlights of the park are the beautifully kept brightly painted structures against the spectacular mountain backdrop It was cool and sunny with an atypical Beijing blue sky. As the sun set the temperature dropped rapidly and so we headed to one of my favorite Beijing restaurants, Nala Restaurant.
Steven Pinkert Review of Nala Restaurant Beijing
Nala Restaurant, according to Steven Pinkert, is fantastic. There are three Nala Restaurants in Beijing, all owned by the same family for 30 years. The menu is varied seasonally but there is one particular regular item that must not be missed – by anyone visiting Beijing – the sugar fried shrimp. This dish is quite simple. Large shrimp are quickly fried in oil then a final fry in sugar syrup or molasses. This is truly one of the best dishes in all of Beijing and mostly unknown by foreigners. Steven Pinkert takes all his Beijing guests to Nala. There is a Nala Restaurant in Fragrant Hills Park area and another just a block west on the street behind the LG Twin Towers in the central Business District.
“Beijing’s Fragrant Hills Park and Nala Restaurant are not to be missed” promises Steven Pinkert.