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Lesson 56 Beihai Park

Chinese Lover



























(Opening scene: Renhao and Xiaojie at Beihai Park)

Xiaojie: (runs along by herself)Dad, hurry up. Come over here.

Renhao: Mmm, it hasn’t changed here at all, the white tower, green trees, red walls. It’s just like being back in the old days.

Xiaojie: Dad, did you used to come here often?

Renhao: Sure. When I was little, I used to come here and row boats all the time.

Xiaojie: Really? Beihai Park was around back then?

Renhao: Don’t be silly, this place has almost one thousand years of history, although back then it was the emperor’s personal garden. Ordinary people couldn’t come in.

Xiaojie: Oh, that’s no fun. I love hanging out with my friends.

(in front of the nine dragon wall)

Xiaojie: Dad, look (counts)1, 2, 3……the wall with nine dragons. I think I saw a wall like this the last time I went to the Forbidden City with mum.

Renhao: Xiaojie, this is called the nine-dragon wall. The one in the Forbidden City is also called the nine dragon wall.

Xiaojie: Hmm, mum says the emperors in ancient China all liked dragons, is that true? Then why do they have to have nine dragons engraved on them?

Renhao: Dragons have always symbolized the emperor in China. Nine dragons not only show the power of the emperor, but some people believed they would bring luck to the whole nation.

Xiaojie: Look, dad, the nine dragons all have different colors. That’s really pretty.

Renhao: Come on, Xiaojie. Let’s go up this way to have a look. (they climb the stairs)

Xiaojie: Dad, how about the white tower? I saw it outside the park. Let’s go up and have a look.

(at the platform in front of the white tower)

Xiaojie: Dad, the view here is so beautiful. Look, people are rowing boats over there. Let’s go too.

Renhao: Let’s take a break first. I’m a bit tired from all that walking.

Xiaojie: Dad, come on let’s go, I’ll row. You can sit there and rest.

Renhao: Hey, Xiaojie, how about I take you to eat at “Fangshan”.

Xiaojie: Fangshan, what kind of place is that?

Renhao: In the old days when the emperor dined, it was called “yong shan”. “Fangshan” (Imperial Style) is the name of a restaurant in Beihai Park. Supposedly they serve what the emperor used to eat and some imperial snacks.

Xiaojie: Imperial snacks?

Renhao: That’s right, snacks that people used to eat in the palace. Like pea flour cake, bean rolls, mini buns, mince stuffed sesame pancakes……

Xiaojie: Oh, please stop. I’m hungry; let’s go there now.

Renhao: So you’re not in a hurry to go boating? (joking)

Xiaojie: Not yet. Let’s go and eat some yummy stuff first. (grabs her dad)


1)仿佛 as if


Looking as these old photos, it’s as if I've gone back to the past.


He looks a lot like his father. Looking at him, it’s just as if you’re looking at his father in his youth.

2)近 almost, up to


China has almost five thousand years of cultural history.


He is almost fifty years old.

Sign Posts

Beihai Park

Beihai Park has been a playground for emperors for hundreds of years. Some attribute this site to Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan and founder of the Yuan Dynasty in China. The island at the southern end of the lake is said to have been created by excavating the lake on the orders of Kublai Khan, and this location is associated with his great palace. This would have been the centre of Beijing before the Forbidden city was build in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Unfortunately, all that remains of the Khan’s palace today s a large jar made of green jade.

Dominating this island, known as the Jade Islet, is a 36m high white dagoba, originally built in 1651 and then rebuilt in 1741. This is one of the most famous dagobas in all of China#

Stupas of all kinds appeared in China with the import of Buddhism. In Chinese, these are all known as 塔, including all styles of stupas and pagodas. Initially, stupas were said to contain some sort of Buddhist relic or ashes of a saintly Buddha. Other times, stupas were built to safekeep holy scriptures and various ritual implements. This leads to the terms 佛塔 Buddha’s pagodas or 宝塔 treasure pagodas.

The dagoba is a pagoda of Tibetan style and is sometimes called 喇嘛塔 after the Llamanist school of Buddhism. Mongolians have also been followers of this school, which originated in Tibet. So it makes sense that Kublai Khan would set about building a large dagoba in Beijing after selecing the city as the capital of the Yuan Dynasty. It was hoped that the dagoba would symbolize the regime’s divine power and keep the nation at peace.

Another attraction in Beihai Park is the 9 Dragon Wall 九龙壁, sculpted in 7 colours of glazed tile. Screen walls were common in traditional architecture for giving privacy to an entrance as well as serving as a symbol of rank. The number 9 and the dragon are both symbols of the Emperor. The screen wall in Beihai Park is considered the most splendid of three similar walls in China dating from the Ming dynasty. So the wall in Beihai Park is definitely worth seeing when you visit.

Substitution and Extension

1)一口气 the action happens continuously


He was too thirsty. He drank a whole bottle of water at once.

2)顾不上 can't pay attention to


When he starts working, he forgets everything else. He often even forgets to eat dinner.