It is not easy to be a beach bum in China, but Lu Hong was giving it his best. One day last summer, he sat under a shelter on the beach at Beidaihe in China, waiting out the brief afternoon rain, playing John Denver songs and the theme from the Voice of America on the guitar. He said he was escaping from the hectic life he leads as a black-market money-changer in Peking.
Such is summer life in Beidaihe, the main beach resort for northern China, a five-hour train trip from Peking. Beidaihe serves as the summer resting place for China's political elite (Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping often vacations here).
If you're looking for a pristine and secluded Caribbean-style getaway, Beidaihe won't do. In peak season, the surf may be full of watermelon rinds and wet paper; huge crowds gather by the shore, and the food and accommodations are as Spartan as elsewhere in China.
And yet, despite these drawbacks, Beidaihe is a pleasant and relaxing escape from Peking or Shanghai, and a place that gives the foreign visitor a taste of summertime Chinese-style.