From Movies to Beidaihe

Nicholas Quirke was beginning and ending his day siting the dark on 24 July 2020. The cinemas in Beijing were reopening and he had a ticket to see a 10.40 am to see a Chinese film ‘The First Farewell’ at a Wanda Cinema. It was in a mall in the west of Beijing which meant he needed to leave at 8.45 to take the subway and cycle to make sure he was there on time. He felt excitement at being in a cinema again after almost 8 months and he couldn’t imagine a more perfect film to see, a coming of age story f set in southern rural China. It was good to remember why he loved the cinema so much. Peng, who had cut his nose in accident and was looking like Jack Nicholson in ’ChinaTown’, was waiting for him when he emerged from the dark and they started the journey to Qinhuangdao and a weekend by the sea. The journey to the coast lay east and would take 3.5 hours of mainly highway driving. They were headed to the resort area of Beidaihe a popular holiday destination of Beijingers, particularly in the heat and temperatures they were experiencing. As they neared the destination there was a police check point where everyone was being stopped and checked however, Nicholas had to be taken inside for additional checks by the police. It seemed a huge amount of manpower for such a simple journey. They arrived at the hotel and check in was very simple and straightforward with someone around to explain him. The room had a great view of the Bohai sea which flowed into the Yellow Sea and they were keen to get out and make the most of the remaining sunshine. It was fascinating to experience the Seaside and to observe from his exclusively laowai presence the Chinese on holiday which clearly held the same attractions the world over. After paddling in the warm water, though water to wash the sand of the feet was noticeably absent, they walked along the front, enjoyed some snacks including sesame paste noodles and a desert before settling down with a beer and watching the sunset there was a surprising amount of ‘photo opportunity’ spots, mainly designed for wedding photographs, but it seemed everyone was happy to join a long queue to have their picture taken in a hot air ballon, in a fake church, in a bower of flowers, and each made the most of their moment to get the perfect photo. The evening ended with music and laser show, some of which, they were able to see from the comfort of the hotel room. It seemed a long way from his morning in the cinema to the seaside resort and the activities in between had left him ready for sleep.

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