Beijing '10 Day 12 - 798 Art District

July 16, 2010 (Friday)

My flight is 3 days away and my heart is restless. Soon I will embrace my other self – not the soul-searching one. I decided to go to the new 798 Art District 七九八(大山子)艺术区 to clear my head. I heard this place used to be a somewhat like an industrial or manufacturing area owned by the state and was transformed when young artists started renting the spaces. Now, it is full of art galleries, shops and you can see various modern and traditional artistic expressions at play such as painting, weaving, sculpting, photography and other handmade stuff.

Getting to 798 was pretty tiring from where I lived and I couldn’t find a subway stop near the area. The shortest route I found took 4 bus interchanges from ShiBanFang 石板房 to ChengFuLuKou Nan 成府路口南 to XueYuanQiaoDong 学院桥东 to DaShanZiQiao 大山子桥. When you go down the last stop, go right then take the first left without crossing the street. Go straight and you’ll find yourself slowly going to the right. After crossing the pedestrian, not the opposite side street, the 798 (QiJiuBa 七九八) Art District should be on your right and you’ll see a big red sign. 

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There is also a 405 bus, which is one stop away from DaShanZiQiao if you don’t feel like walking. It stops near the entrance of 798.

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The first few galleries are located in factory-style buildings and appear subtle because of the quiet neighborhood. 

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After you reach the end and exploring the left side, turn right to the main street. There you’ll see a train station, more shops, galleries and public art. 

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The 798 is a nice place to go to even by yourself and pace leisurely around the surrounding buildings at your own time. The place also hosts a number of exhibitions within specific time periods so you would surely see something different with every visit.

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For me, I went to the 798 Art Space and ate some ravioli in the restaurant inside called Old Factory. 

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There are a lot of galleries that have coffee shops, books and stores all in one location. This is probably one of the places I will visit again and most likely, I will find the time to sit back and relax in some corner of 798. The prices for food and items are reasonable, while all the art galleries are open to the public. Even the Taiwan Pearl Milk Tea I bought for 10RMB was so refreshing. You will see a lot of young local people and couples walking around especially on weekends. Foreign visitors will be attracted to this wonderful place and the news will spread quickly. They will surely come and visit in numbers in the next few years and 798 will become another successful tourism hotspot in Beijing.

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I also took the chance to go to Merry Mart to get some supplies for the apartment. It turns out that they set up food carts there every night. This night though was special because there was a dance and fashion show arranged just outside the complex. To bring out my camera and take a few shots were the touristy things to do so I decided against it. Instead, I crossed my fingers and called my dad’s friend that I was having a hard time to reach. This time around, I got his number right and we agreed to meet on my last day this weekend.

Read more about Beijing:
Beijing '10 Day 1 - A Very Hot Welcome, Beijing in July
Beijing '10 Day 2 - At  HaiDian, Vegetarian Restaurant at WuDaoKou to Meet Up with an Old Friend
Beijing '10 Day 3 - Giving In to Korean Influence, Kimchi Rice, Kimbap and Koreanovela in Beijing!
Beijing '10 Day 4 - At The Golden Tripod & Lama Temple, Time Stops, Things Change and the World Goes On
Beijing '10 Day 5 - Taking On an Old Route, Food Delivery in Beijing
Beijing '10 Day 6 - Staying Awake on a Night Out
Beijing '10 Day 7 - The First Time’s the Charm
Beijing '10 Day 8 - Banking, Shopping & Commuting Tips
Beijing '10 Day 9 - In Time for the Lotus Season, the Festival at YuanMingYuan!
Beijing '10 Day 10 - Dumplings and Meatballs, YaShow Market & IKEA
Beijing '10 Day 11 - Trapped in the Rain, Eating Lamb Chuanr in Beijing!
Beijing '10 Day 12 - 798 Art District
Beijing '10 Day 13 - Tripping Through the Olympic Green, Bird's Nest & Forest Park
Beijing '10 Day 14 - Saying Goodbye With the Best Hutong Experience, SheShaHai, 100-Year Old Lamb Restaurant & NanLouGuXiang
Beijing '10 Day 15 - Going Home