Within a few days of arriving in QHD, I had to go to Shijiazhuang – the capital of Hebei Province, and which frequently has the worst air pollution in China – for a medical, a condition of the residence permit. I didn’t see much of the place, other than the medical centre and the smog, so I’ve only included the above link for anyone interested in knowing more about it than I do. However, this outing meant spending a couple of nights before and after the medical in Baoding at the main campus of Baoding Agricultural University, from which it was only a short trip to Shijiazhuang.

Baoding is of great historical importance, and I would be back here a few times, although I admit I’d never heard of it before going to China.

The current population is over 10 million, with the city proper approaching 2 million. There has been a lot of development during the last ten years, so this can be expected to rise significantly.

Baoding is probably best known in the West for Baoding Balls, which can be used to strengthen one’s fingers and wrist. (I’m not recommending the above website, just offering a link for information.
No, that is not my hand.)

The most famous local speciality food is the “Chinese Sandwich” or “donkey burger” (驴肉火烧 lǘròu huǒshāo). This consists of hot chopped or shredded donkey meat or offal within a huǒshāo or shāobǐng 烧饼 – a roasted, semi-flaky bread pocket, a bit like pitta bread. A well-known saying, especially in Baoding (and elsewhere in Hebei province), is “In Heaven there is dragon meat, on Earth there is donkey meat” (天上龙肉,地上驴肉).

Governor’s Mansion (aka Zhili Governor’s Office), Qing Dynasty

The Zhili Governor’s Office is located in the urban area of ​​Baoding, near the ancient lotus pond. The area covered is small. Here, you can see the historical building style of the restored office and residence of the Governor, and learn about the official customs, stories, and costumes of the Qing Dynasty officials through various exhibitions. Oh, and there is a section showing ancient methods of punishment.

Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul

This is a Roman Catholic church in Baoding. It was closed to visitors while I was there on my second trip, to meet another student, but we sneaked into the grounds anyway. Down the side, there was there was the end of something non-Christian going on, but my guide was unable to explain it (not her religion either).
The cathedral is evidence of the foreign occupation. During the Boxer rebellion, the rebels killed a Turk, two Swiss, and an Italian in Baoding. There was – and may still be – a sizeable community of native Chinese Christians in Baoding. There has been some clandestine activity since the revolution up to the present day. Unfortunately, I don’t know much more than that.

The Old Lotus Garden

On an extremely hot day, this was the perfect place to escape the dust, noise, and crowds in the city centre. I would discover later that not many locals were actually aware of its existence, possibly because the entrance was so small and unassuming. The garden itself was not huge, but it was interesting enough, with collections of ancient stele and calligraphy.

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