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Boat trips are among the leisure activities on offer.

Gubei Water Town, a stunning landmark in rural Beijing 

Beijing, China: Visitors to China’s capital may first want to seek out the grand complex of the Forbidden City in the heart of the downtown area, but there are also several other highly recommended landmarks on the list for a couple of weeks getaway.

Two local women beautifully dressed in traditional costume pose for photo with a foreign visitor to the water town. People from all walks of life are keen to explore the many attractions  of the water town, which has been built in an old architectural style.

Last week, a visit to one of the most amazing tourist attractions was arranged for a group foreign journalists taking part in a four-month programme organised by the China International Press Communication Centre (CIPPC), namely Gubei Water Town, known in short as WTown, which lies some distance outside the city centre.
Ideally situated by a lake in Miyun district at the foot of the Simatai Great Wall (part of the Great Wall of China), it draws visitors for days and nights to explore this attractively designed waterside township which, although featuring quaint Chinese architecture, is replete with resorts, restaurants, leisure activities and gift shops.
After spending almost three weeks observing and experiencing China first hand, I have discovered that the country has a plethora of fascinating architectural styles, with many dating back to ancient times. For example, the Forbidden City used to be an enormous palace and housed several  emperors during the course of a few dynasties.
Gubei Water Town has become one of the most popular landmarks in the local area and was built in 2010 on a 9-square-kilometre site, making it a large-scale tourist destination.
Even though it has no historical associations, its charming traditional style  houses and the prominent display of old Chinese customs inside each building are of great interest and reflect the development of the Chinese people from ancient times to the present day. During my tour of the park, I noticed that most of the visitors were Chinese, who had come to enjoy a pleasing variety of leisure activities including boat rides, a hike on the Great Wall, night tours, and many more.
The boats moved along under sail and were skillfully manoeuvred so that the occupants could sense the serenity of the calm water, gliding peacefully through flocks of white ducks and watching giant goldfish swimming in the lake.
Alongside the lake one can see Chinese operas being performed, with the actors dressed in traditional costumes and addressing each other through a distance voice that emanated from a man in a boat who was able to switch between different tones, including female voices.
It reminded me of the Chinese movies I watched at the age of 10 or 12. Luckily, those movies had Lao and Thai subtitles, and I was able to sense the mood through the actions and guess the meaning of what I was watching.
To fully explore Gubei Water Town and the surrounding area, including taking a cable car from the foot of the Simatai Great Wall, visitors are recommended to begin the day early so you can enjoy a day tour and perhaps also a night-time activity.
The Simatai Great Wall is one of several sections of the Great Wall of China, along with the Mutianyu Great Wall, Huanghuacheng Great Wall, Jiankou Great Wall and other sections, and visitors should ensure they can fully experience all of these during a week’s stay in Beijing.
After a couple of hours of touring and experiencing almost every corner of this charming complex, I felt that China had already created almost everything possible.
Foreign visitors to China are always hugely impressed, not only with the carefully crafted tourist attractions, but also with the advanced technologies, public transport, and digital development that symbolise China’s rapid rate of progress.
--Bounfaeng Phaymanivong, a Lao journalist at the Lao Press in Foreign Languages (Vientiane Times), is attending the four-month-long China Asia Pacific Press Centre 2023 Programme, which is initiated by the China Public Diplomacy Association (CPDA) under the framework of the China International Press Communication Centre (CIPCC), along with more than 80 media representatives from almost 70 countries from different continents.

A replica of the Great Wall stands at the entrance to the resort.  

By Bounfaeng Phaymanivong
(Latest Update August 17, 2023)

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