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Flower markets in Beijing
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Chaoyang Park is a relatively new addition to Beijing's municipal parks and it now includes the largest green space in the city. Neatly positioned between the Third and Fourth Ring roads, the park is a centre of entertainment and was most recently a focus for some great restaurants, bars and nightclubs, particularly at the West Gate.

Although the large lake that meanders across the space is frozen in winter, in summer pleasure boating dominates the parks many other activities. There is also a full-scale entertainment centre accessible from the park's South Gate.

The West Gate, well known to local foreign residents, is the entrance closest to the Goose and Duck Pub, an expatriate watering hole. Access to the Park's lakes is but a few minutes stroll. The West Gate is also near to some great restaurants including Annie's, a newly expanded Italian bistro, The World of Suzie Wong, the excellent late-night 1930s Shanghaiesque lounge bar and another Jenny Lou's supermarket outlet, popular to almost everyone who loves cheese, butter and olive oil, sometimes precious commodities in the capital.

Near the South Gate of Chaoyang Park, you will find The Big Easy, a jazz joint selling hamburgers and beer. Across the road you will find Latinos, a late night Latin dance bar that swings!

Around Chaoyang Park, new gilt-edge housing accommodates Beijing's most successful people. Palm Springs, Park Avenue and Fairview Gardens are but a few of the new digs available in the area.

Continue along up Chaoyang Park West Road and you will reach Ladies Street, also known as the Laitai Flower Market. New to the city, it's great for recreation, short visits or decorating a home. The flowers and other items available at Laitai will grab the more creative of you right off the street and part you from the money with ease! It is a brilliant place for turning a humble home into a tropical paradise. Abundant plants and flowers, pots and shrubs, vines and miniatures trees and puppies, fish and clothes make sure you cannot leave empty handed!

Remember, go to Laitai Flower Market with things to buy in mind otherwise the choice can be boggling and, as always, remember to bargain. The by-word of Beijing shopping is haggle! haggle! haggle!

( January 23, 2008)

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