China is – or at least, until recently was- the world’s petri dish for what I like to call bizarrchitecture. You have malls with Venetian gondolas (and Somali video games), (empty) towns designed to be spitting images of European villages and capitals, and in today’s case, a weird former hotel in Yanjiao, Hebei province constructed in the form of Chinese deities:
I say “former” hotel because I not only was unable to locate an entrance, but additionally a third of the windows seemed to show chairs piled up (and this visit happened two days ago).
Locals know it as the Tianzi （天子) building, a phrase that loosely translates as “son of heaven,” referring to an emperor’s divine right to rule.
Who are those three jolly folks, also known as Sanxing (三星), the “three star gods?” From right to left – in other words, how Chinese is traditionally written – we have Fu (福), representing good fortune, Lu (禄/祿) for status/prosperity, and Shou (寿/壽), carrying the peach, symbolizing longevity. Seems they were awake that day, as it must have been the bluest sky in decades.
Suppose the god of fortune didn’t get along with hotel management. Or…it was the odd location, in a very residential area, yet also near a furniture mall.
No one ever gets a photo of the back of buildings. Can’t say it’s too surprising that windows are lacking…not to mention, those are usually the cheapest rooms in China. Have to let the cigarette smoke collect somewhere.
Directions: Going to the Tianzi Building, I took the train from Beijing station (北京站) to Sanhe (三河), which was roughly forty minutes, then walked northwest for roughly three kilometers to catch a 3 or 9 minibus to get there. The bus stop closest to Tianzi is 运河源建材城, but if you say “Tianzi” or better yet, show a photo of the place to the driver, that will suffice. That might’ve been the longer way, though with the way Beijing traffic moves, who knows.
Coming back to/going from Beijing, there are a few buses from which to choose. Try the 816 or 817, which you can board near the Dawang Road (大望路) metro station on lines 1 and 14.
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