We have something really cool in our neighborhood!
About two blocks to the south we have access to the canal that the Emperor used to use as his thoroughfare to the Summer Palace.
Jabeh (Dan's assistant) first introduced it to us in July after a trip to the Beijing Zoo. There's a "Pleasure Boat" from the Zoo to the Summer Palace, which we took; but we got off halfway and walked the few blocks home.
Formerly, when the Imperial Entourage would travel to the Summer Palace it would take something like two weeks (being carried by sedan), but the canal shortened the trip significantly.
Now, there's a park that encompasses the length of the canal and which coalesces right in our neighborhood.
There's a lake with paddle boats, some fishing ponds, lots of twisty walkways through bamboo groves and pavilions all about where people gather to practice traditional Chinese opera songs, play flutes or stringed instruments (erhu), or dance. Hmm... maybe this would cure our bubble problem, if we started hanging out at the park to learn one of these things (I don't see me learning traditional Chinese opera, but maybe the weird little instrument that's a cross between a gourd and a flute would do the trick).
Just within the last year the city made the park admission free, so we should go over there a lot more than we do.
oops I forgot to mention that Zi Zhu Yuan literally translates as Purple Bamboo Park, though I think the variety being referenced is actually called Black Bamboo.