Christmas is upon us again. This year, I’m in Australia, but I’ll be thinking about Christmas in China, which I’ve been fortunate to experience on a number of occasions.
This photo by Keemz of a Christmas tree in Beijing got me thinking about past Christmases in China:
I guess I should say that I’m happy to spend Christmas here in Australia, with my family – and I am – but part of me will miss the experience of spending Christmas in China:
- The camaraderie with other foreign teachers as we celebrate a Western festival in a non Western country and find ways of making it ‘like home’
- The excitement of my students, which hardened Western high school / university students don’t want to match
- The bustle of the shops on Christmas Eve
- The fire works that will go off on Christmas Eve
- The general surrealness of Christmas in China
Of course, I won’t miss:
- The absence of family
- The fact that most people work on Christmas Day (even if I don’t have to)
- That Christmas Day is a non event compared to Christmas Eve
- That there’s no such thing as Boxing Day (although the same goes for the US)
I hope you all have a great Christmas wherever you are.
I recently read a couple of unconnected articles that suggest that now is a good time to buy real estate in Beijing. Prices are dropping. Restrictions on foreigners buying property in Beijing have been lifted. Continue reading
Just to offset my last post about smog In southern China, here are some photos by Mario Carvajal of Tiananmen and the Forbidden City in Beijing under clear, blue skies.
I’ve told this to people again and again: In Beijing, the pollution can be horrible (though not as bad as Guangzhou), but you’ll also get some lovely days of perfect wheather as well. These photos prove it!
It may only be about one day per week, but it does happen!
Edit 4 July 2012: Unfortunately, it seems that the pollution and air quality in Beijing has gotten steadily worse and is at a new low point. There are still a few blus sky days, but not as many as there once were. Here’s to hoping that some of the measures the Chinese government is taking actually helps them.
Magnifique, lizixiang, 璀璨！ posted a couple of superb photos of the Beijing Railway Station (Beijing Zhan) at night:
It looks very impressive at night time. The building is lit superbly, but that’s not a surprise – the Chinese are excellent at lighting buildings at night.
According to Wikipedia it:
opened in the 1950s, as can be seen from its architecture (which merges traditional architecture with 50s-design). It is located in an extremely central location, just next to Jianguomen, and is within the confines of the city’s 2nd Ring Road.
The Beijing Railway Station is a familiar site to me (and to many other visitors to Beijing), although I’ve never caught a train from here. I used to catch a bus near here and the bus stop was always very busy!
gongfu_king posted a photo of the new CCTV building in Beijing:
The new CCTV building in Beijing, which has attracted worldwide attention. Note: CCTV stands for China Central Television, which is the national television network of China.
I watched while this was being built, although I didn’t know it was the CCTV building at the time. They built the two legs independently, then joined them up. For some reason, I thought they’d keep building upwards into a spire of some sort. I had an image in my mind of it being shaped vaguely like the Eiffel tower! I’m not sure where I got that from, but I was a bit surprised when I heard it was finished and that was all there was!
However, it is unique and representative of modern Beijing, which is full of interesting architecture, such as this (although most of it designed by foreigners).
Starbucks is growing rapidly in China.
I used to occasionally go to the store in the shopping centre at the top of Wangfujing in Beijing. It was always packed on Saturday, although less busy on Sunday. While quite a few Westerners were there, an equal number of Chinese people were there as well, reflecting the growing number of middle class Chinese people, who are adopting somewhat more of a Western influenced lifestyle.
Service was good and staff could speak passable English, although occasionally there’d be a little surprise.
There are already quite a few stores in Beijing (69 stores according to the Starbucks website). I predict more will open in future (even as American and Australian stores close). There is a big demand for the product and the costs of running the stores are much lower, although the prices charged aren’t significantly lower.
There was a bit of controversy about the store in the picture, because it is inside the Forbidden City. There are varying opinions on whether this is appropriate, both amongst the Chinese and foreigners, but I for one would be happy if it was removed.
It may be convenient, but I don’t go to the Forbidden City for convenience, I go to soak up the ambiance of ancient China.
poeloq posted a couple of photos of a small restaurant / food stall:
It looks like this small restaurant / food stall is serving steamed mantou (steamed buns) or baozi (steamed buns with a filling inside). You can see the stack of bamboo steamers in the picture. There’s a chance that it’s actually steamed jiaozi (dumplings), but it’s much more likely to be mantou / baozi.
For more information on mantou, check out Wikipedia’s entry on the subject.
Anyway, I really like these photos because they capture the subject well. There are thousands of small food stalls like this in Beijing and in other cities across China and they look just like this. Also, I’m a sucker for black and white photos!
poeloq posted some photos of a black and white Beijing street scene:
The images are wonderful: there is great action in each of them; and they work well together.
The first picture is particularly good, because the people are crossing the street in different directions. There’s a lot going on, which makes the picture very interesting.
The second photo is also very interesting they’re all stopped there in the middle of the pedestrian crossing. It looks like they’re having a chat or doing some business there!
I also like the last photo because of the man on the bike heading towards the right and the traffic warden walking to the left, slightly behind him.
poeloq posted some photos of the Beijing Olympic Precinct (ie the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium and the Watercube):
The 2008 Beijing Olympics were a wonderful spectacle. When people think back on Beijing 2008, the images which will come to mind will be of the spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies and of the Beijing Olympic Precinct.
The Olympic Precinct is the area around the Olympic Stadium (containing the athletics track and commonly known as the Bird’s Nest Stadium). The Olympic Precinct also includes the Watercube, which was the pool facility.
Both the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium and the Watercube were visually striking, particularly at night, when the use of lighting and colour turned these venues into a work of art. These great photos by poeloq show this to great effect.
The 2008 Beijing Olympics have finished and the Closing Ceremony was just as spectacular as the Opening Ceremony. I watched it on TV and loved every minute of it.
Fortunately, someone who was there has posted a lot of great photos on Flickr, with a Creative Commons license that allows me to share them with you here. I’d like to thank rich115 for his great photos! Here are some of them. Continue reading