It was one of those magical days. The 5 inches of snow
that fell last night has transformed the Chaoyang district of Beijing. The grey dust that coated the buildings, trees,
roads, everything, has been air-brushed by the thickest blanket of powdery snow I've ever seen in Beijing.
Any thoughts of spending the day tapping the keyboard of a computer
were quickly hijacked by an irresistible urge to go to the biggest and best open space in central Beijing, Chaoyang Park. Usually, it takes no more than 20 minutes to drive
there; this morning it took just over one hour. But it was worth the effort.
I wandered around chatting
to anyone who wanted to chat and taking photos of people at play.
Three chefs had just finished building a snowman.
"Where are your customers today?"
"No one will come
today," the head cook said with a chuckle, as he added the finishing touches to a snowman that was almost as tall as
I could make out that he had buttons made of
sliced carrots; carrot-top ears, a bamboo
hat, and an eggshell nose. But there was
one facial feature that had me guessing...
"What are its eyes made of?" I asked.
course!" shouted out the junior chef who was standing behind me.
The head chef smoothed out the chin and then stood back to admire his creation. "There,
you can now take a photo of it if you want".
The head chef was right.
There would be no customers today. The park, which on any normal day has many thousands of visitors, held three chefs, a mum and her
three year-old daughter, two students, a few hardy older ladies, and a dozen or so park workers, some of whom were trying
without much success to knock the snow off the tops of conifer trees long witches' brooms. Funnily enough, they were indeed
wearing pointy hats.
I didn't see any tangerine trees and
marmalade skies, but I did blink twice when I saw what I can only describe as a Noddy car, doing doughnuts in the deep snow.
"Curiouser and curiouser," said Alice.
As I turned the corner,
I spotted two more people. A photographer
and her model, who was dressed in a full-length white woolly coat, opened to reveal a white frilly blouse; and a knee-length
white skirt that almost touched the tops of her extra-long leather boots - white of course.
The photographer, a woman from Henan province, told me that the two of them had come here
to find work, and that she thought it would be good to get some 'snow shots' for the portfolio she was putting together.
After spotting a coven of witches, a gourmet snowman, a doughnutting
Noddy car, and now Snow White, I wondered what might be the next surreal treat.
Teddy bears picknicking in the woods, perhaps?
Whatever it is; when
walking or cycling in Beijing, you can always be sure of a big surprise.