My main non-research-related social group in Beijing was the runners. They kept me “real” – or at least healthy and sane, particularly on days when research-related woes or archival red tape threatened to send me in search of booze.
The taxi conversation always began the same: “Where to?” “Badachu.”
Badachu park is just west of Beijing’s 5th ring road, south of the more popular and larger Xiangshan (Fragrant Hills) park. But we never actually went to Badachu. Once we got to the signs just outside the ring road that pointed us in that direction one of us (me or another Chinese speaker) would pipe up with “OK, now just go straight, then up there on the right – ting che (stop the car)!” In the middle of a few dilapidated houses and shops our group of 3-5 foreigners, all in full running gear, would hop out of the taxi and hand over our ~70 kuai fare. We’d then cross the road and pick up a small path behind a family-run smokes and liquor shop and just start jogging up the mountain behind it.