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‘Apec-blue’ waters

Updated: Feb 25,2015 10:14 AM     China Daily

Yanqi Amusement Park is a good place for a stroll and to watch the Yanqi Tower in winter.[Photo/China Daily]

Yanqi Lake has become a hot tourist spot since the area hosted heads of state during last year’s economic leaders’ conclave. Yangmo Ziyan takes an eight-hour tour.

Tourists are pouring into Yanqi Lake since the heads of state have left.

The site has long been a weekend destination in Beijing’s suburban Huairou district. But it has been given new appeal since the area hosted the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November.

More than 100 new shops and restaurants, among other facilities, have been constructed in recent years.

And since the first day of 2015, the entire area-including the islet that served as the main APEC venue-has opened to the public, drawing more visitors than ever.

China Daily takes the trip to discover what an eight-hour visit offers.

7 am-Hitting the road

It takes at least two hours by bus. It’s advisable to leave before the morning traffic jam.

9:30 am-Yanqi Islet

Phone or online reservations are required since the number of daily visitors to the island are restricted to 120.

Tours costing 100 yuan ($16) per person run at 9 am, 10 am, 2 pm and 3 pm. Visitors must arrive half an hour early.

The hourlong trip takes tourists to two main sites-the Yanqi Lake International Convention Center (including the main building, hotel and 12 presidential villas) and the Science Exhibition Center.

Tourists retrace APEC leaders’ route from the convention center to the APEC Partnership Forest to Yanqi Hotel.

This part resembles the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Visitors ask: “Where did President Xi Jinping have lunch?” and “Can you take a photo of us shaking hands like Xi and US President Barack Obama?”

Boat tours aren’t available during the coldest months, so visitors must travel by bus. Or they can stay in Yanqi Hotel for $300 a night for a standard room.

Trout sashimi is a delicacy popular in Huairou district in northeastern Beijing.

Tourists can enjoy tea fused with foreign influences at Oriental Yutai teahouse.

Noon-Trout time

Trout tops the menu in Huairou.

But while self-proclaimed local and organic restaurants are everywhere, it’s worth the 25-minute drive from Yanqi town to Yujia’ao at the Mutianyu Great Wall’s foot.

The eatery is celebrated for its trout. The fish is served stewed, braised, barbecued, fried with chilies, raw-you name it.

Literally.

“Say how you want it, and you’ll have it,” the cook tells customers.

Chestnuts are another local specialty. Huairou’s are known for their size, nutrition and taste. Braised pork with chestnuts is a popular dish at most restaurants.

The American-owned Western eatery The Schoolhouse is famous not only for trout sandwiches but also for US first lady Michelle Obama’s 2014 visit, commemorated by its popular “First Lady Combo” of braised-pork noodles and veggie dumplings.

2 pm-Yanqi Amusement Park

Summertime offers boating, zip-lining and picnicking. It’s a good place for a stroll and to snap photos of the Yanqi Tower.

3:30 pm-Spring Legend Town

Spring Legend Town is built with European symbols, including a windmill, bell tower and Beethoven statue.

Buildings are also constructed in European style. Restaurants offer Spanish paella and German sausages. Bars pour French wines. Stores sell Romanian goods.

Oriental Yutai Tea is one of the area’s only relatively “Chinese” offerings. But its tea is fused with foreign influences to create green tea lattes and matcha baumkuchen (Japanese ground green-tea cakes).

“There aren’t many customers in winter,” the server says. “It’s the same for all the other businesses, except for weekends.”

5 pm-Heading home

After a fruitful day of enjoying the amenities afforded to world leaders, it’s time to head home, like they did.

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