Monday, April 30, 2007

South East Corner Watchtower

South East Corner Watchtower 東南角樓

The Ming dynasty South East Corner Watchtower (Dongnan Jiaolou) is a massive, stone fortification not far from Beijing Train Station.

South East Corner Watchtower

Attached to the tower is a 100 meter long section of the original inner city walls which run into the restored Ming City Wall and park running to the west.

Inside the fort's impressive red, wooden interior is the Red Gate Gallery (Tel: 6525 1005), which exhibits contemporary Chinese art. The gallery was founded in 1991 by Australian Brian Wallace.

South East Corner Watchtower (Dongnan Jiaolou)

The South East Corner Watchtower was stormed by western forces during the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901) and soldier's graffiti can still be seen carved into the stone walls.

Allied soldiers' graffiti on the stone walls


Access - Getting There

Dongnan Jiaolou
9 am-5 pm
Admission fee
Tel: 8512 1554

Jianguomen or Chongwenmen Subway Stations on the Circle Line. Walk south for about 15 minutes under the railway bridge from Jianguomen Station or walk east for about 15-20 minutes along the Ming City Wall from Chongwenmen Station (Exit B).

Book Hotels in Beijing

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Beijing Parks

Beijing Parks

Beijing has many beautifully landscaped parks dotted around the city, often associated with famous historic places of interest. The parks usually provide respite from the bustle of Beijing, or in some cases a refreshing look at crowds of people relaxing Beijing style.

Kneeling fans
Fan-tastic!


While the parks can be particularly stunning during spring as fresh blossom blooms or spring bulbs burst into flower, some people may not enjoy sharing the experience with a large proportion of the city’s population.

Xiangshan (Fragrant Hills Park) offers a magnificent range of colour during autumn, enjoyed by what seems like millions of the local populace.

Painting chinese characters
Street calligraphy
The hike to the top takes about one hour or there is a chair lift if you are happy to queue.

Meishan (Coal Hill) also known as Jingshan Gongyuan (Prospect Hill) offers great photo opportunities of the Forbidden City, the world’s largest palace.

Open daily 6 am-10 pm. 5rmb.
1 Wenjin Street, Xicheng District

Behai Park


A former imperial park to the north and west of the Forbidden City is well worth a visit for spring blossoms and classical landscaping. Small boats can be hired to travel across the lake.

Open 6 am-10 pm. 10-20rmb.

Temple of Heaven Jamming
Beihai Park band
Many of the parks are a place to watch the locals, particularly those who have retired, relax and interact with each other. They engage in a wide range of activities, some traditional and others less so.

The group at right is playing traditional instruments at the Temple of Heaven park.

Photo Credits

All photos by Russell Uebergang

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Olympic Medals

The medals for the Beijing Olympics were unveiled in a late March ceremony held at the Capital Museum in Beijing.

The medals for the 2008 Games have incorporated the design motif from "bi," an ancient piece of jade on which a dragon is drawn. In keeping with this motif, the medals have jade in them for the first time in Olympic history.

olympic-medalsThe front side has the traditional Greek symbol for the Games: the goddess of victory Nike in the Panathinaikos Stadium (see left).

On the reverse side, according to the official web site of the Games, "the medals are inlaid with jade with the Beijing Games emblem engraved in the metal centerpiece."

The medal box, ribbons, and Olympic certificates also reflect a Chinese sensibility.

The box is made out of wooden lacquer and is rectangular in shape. The four sides curve slightly, which symbolizes "heaven and earth."

The ribbon moreover features a cloud pattern that has been woven onto a red strap.

Last, the certificate itself is made out of silk and rice paper.

The gold medals are said to weigh some six grams.

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tickets for Olympics 2008

Tickets for Olympics 2008

Oh, if you live in Beijing buying Olympic tickets is not as simple as one might think!

In fact it is ridiculous!

Beijing Olympic Stadium
Beijing Olympic Stadium

You have to register online, fine. Then you select the events you want to attend. If you choose the opening ceremony then you can only get ONE ticket.

Too bad if you want to go with someone you love or know! Then if that wife or husband or lover or friend wants to go, then they have to register online too and enter the lottery system to get a ticket and take their chances where they will sit, if they get a ticket at all.

Then, if you are married and have kids, I guess the kids have to enter the lottery too! The fiasco doesn't end there! If you only have one Visa card in the family and you have already bought your own tickets with that, your wife/partner/etc cannot use your Visa card to pay for the tickets, the system doesn't allow it.

At this point in time I have an entry in the lottery to get an opening ceremony ticket. My wife can't even apply as we don't have another Visa card and we don't have a Bank of China account!

Now I'm hoping I don't get drawn to go to the opening ceremony. How ridiculous is that! But why would you want to go if you can't go with someone you know or love!

The good part is that I was able to apply for tickets to some events and ask for 2 tickets to those events.

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Olympic Tickets Go on Sale

Olympic Tickets Go on Sale 欢迎预订奥运门票

The Organizing Committee for the Beijing Olympic Games (BOCOG) announced that tickets for the 2008 Games are now on sale. For those living outside China, tickets can be ordered through their own country's National Olympic Committee or "its designated ticketing agent." People in the People's Republic can order various ways.

How to Order

Those in China can apply:

1) through the official ticketing website,

2) by calling BOCOG directly: (+86-10-952008),

or 3) at designated Bank of China branches.

Olympic fans who live outside of China can apply for tickets through their own National Olympic Committee or its designated ticketing agent.

Phases

For ticket buyers in China, sales will have three phases. Phase One lasts until the end of September 2007. In this phase, you have until 30 June 2007 to apply. Roughly 50% of the available tickets will go on sale in this phase.

The second phase will last from October to December 2007. The remaining 50% of the tickets plus any left over tickets from phase one will be on sale--on a first come, first served basis.

The last phase is from April until August 2008, and any remaining tickets will be sold.

Ticket prices can be found here:

Read more on Olympic 2008 Tickets

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Dining in Beijing

Dining in Beijing

Beijing has an incredible variety of national and international cuisine. Some of these restaurants have spectacular presentation. There are over 60,000 to choose from throughout the city.

International dishes can be found in a range of excellent restaurants including Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, French and Italian.

Chinese options are extensive. Food in China varies with each region and many of these are represented in Beijing. The food from China is often divided into seven main cuisines: Shandong, Cantonese, Huaiyang, Sichuan, Hunan, Shanghai and northeastern cuisine.

Beijing Food
Photographer: Russell Uebergang
Beijing cuisine offers a number of unique dishes, mostly from the Qing Dynasty.

Some the most famous Beijing dishes include: Beijing roast duck (Quanjude and Bianyifang), Imperial Court cuisine (Tan Family Food), Mongolian hotpot and barbecued meat.

Beijing also has a range of famous snacks like dumplings, noodles, fermented soybean, mild, quick-fried liver, glutinous rice cakes, glutinous millet cakes, candied haws on sticks and clay-fried oven bread. The candied haws and other candied fruits on sticks are usually only available during the cooler and cold months.

Steamed bun
Steamed bun by Russell Uebergang
One of the street food snacks well worth trying is Jianbing, an eggy, crunchy Chinese crepe. For those more adventurous palettes there are the scorpion skewers or grills with heart and tripe.

Such delicacies can be found just down the alley from Wangfujing shopping mall. When walking toward the Oriental Malls, there is a small alley off to the right near a souvenir and chopstick shop, this alley leads you to a wide range of skewered snacks.

Skewered snacks
Skewered snacks

Tea houses are also an important part of Beijing life. Tea houses have provided tea drinkers with many different types of tea and tea ware since the end of the Ming Dynasty.

Tea houses do not serve meals. They offer snacks such as dried fruit, cured meals, pickled tidbits and deserts. People chat, smoke, and relax while waiters pour tea from giant metal, clay and porcelain tea pots.

Beijing Teahouse
Beijing Teahouse

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Eyeglasses Market Beijing

Mingjing Yuan Eyeglasses Market

Near Panjiayaun market on the third ring road is a shopping haven for those needing a new pair of specs. Once you get there, you will find it hard to stop at just one pair! If you wear glasses, you will get some real bargains here.

Recently I paid 220rmb for prescription glasses, including testing. There are prescription or non-prescription sunglasses. There are also contact lenses. Be prepared to bargain for your frames when ordering your new eye wear. If you have forgotten your prescription, they will test your eyes for you, before making up your order.

Taking only 30 minutes to an hour to complete your order this is truly the way to shop for eyeglasses. If you have any problems simply take the glasses back and they will sort out the problems if you show a little patience. Some of the eye-testing people speak English. If all else fails call your Chinese friend or hotel concierge, explain your problem and they will translate for you.

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Panjiayuan Market Beijing

Panjiayuan Market

This treasure trove of antiques, jade, beads, statues, posters, scroll painting and so on, never fails to fascinate and tempt visitors. Even some of the most hardened non-shoppers have weakened to the temptations of this market!

Coffee Break

There is one coffee stall at the rear of the market set up under one of the many shop houses. The coffee here is not first class, but it is a very welcome refreshing break or warm-up during the freezing winter shopping expeditions.

Or why not leave the market for an excellent cup of coffee and snack from the helpful Klub Coffee? This local style coffee shop just north of the nearby Chaowai Furniture market serves great coffee and snacks in comfortable surrounds with cheerful, friendly service. To get there, simply turn right after crossing the road from the front gate of the market.

You are now walking toward the third ring road. Continue to the playground/exercise area and turn left to walk parallel with the third ring road.

You will pass one of Beijing's famous eye glasses markets and then Chaowai furniture market. Now walk past a few more clothes shops on your left and you will see the welcome retreat of Klub Cafe, if you have not been tempted by other shopping along the way.

Arrive or depart by rickshaw

Arrive or depart by rickshaw Photographer: Russell Uebergang

Local art work

Local art work Photographer: Russell Uebergang

Brushes

Brushes Photographer: Russell Uebergang

Market central

Market central Photographer: Russell Uebergang

Cheerful local vendors

Cheerful local vendors and shoppers Photographer: Russell Uebergang

Hot potatoes

Hot potatoes Photographer: Russell Uebergang


Jewellery Photographer: Russell Uebergang

Mao Memorabilia

Mao Memorabilia Photographer: Russell Uebergang


Ground level shopping

Ground level shopping Photographer: Russell Uebergang

Tibetan furniture

Tibetan furniture Photographer: Russell Uebergang

Resources
www.gluckman.com/BeijingMarket.html
www.thebeijingguide.com

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bell Tower Beijing China

Bell Tower Beijing China

The 48 meter brick and stone Bell Tower stands just to the north of the Drum Tower and was built around the same time, although the present structure dates from the 18th century.

Bell Tower, Beijing

The huge, 42 ton, bronze bell at the top of the tower is 10 cm thick, over 500 years old and was rung to mark the time. Legend has it that the bell-maker's daughter threw herself into the molten metal to ensure a successful casting after a number of previous failings.

The huge metal bell at the Bell Tower, Beijing

It is thought that the bell was rung to mark the time during the night to avoid waking the capital's citizens while the drum was used to wake people up at 5 am - the designated time to rise, though the evidence is contrasting and the drum may also have been beaten at night as well.

There are good views from the top of the Bell Tower over the neighborhood rooftops and on a clear day the skyscrapers of downtown Beijing are also clearly visible.

The view of neigorhood hutong rooftops from the Bell Tower, Beijing

The square between the Drum and Bell Towers - Zhonggulou - is a pleasant, neighborhood plaza in the evening when the tourists have departed.

There are bell and drum towers in other Chinese cities, most notably Xian.

Access - Getting There

The Bell Tower (Zhonglou)
Tel: 6401 2674
The nearest subway station is Gulou on the Circle Line.

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Olympic Volunteers Sought

Olympic Volunteers Sought

485 days remain until China's Coming Out party. Prior to the opening of the first Olympic Games to be held in China, the organizing committee is scrambling to get volunteers. Web sites have been created and the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) and the Beijing Olympic Games Volunteer Work Coordination Group are now trying to get volunteers for the Olympic and Paralympic games from outside the Chinese mainland.

Olympic Volunteers Sought


The BOCOG has set a goal of 100,000 volunteers: 70,000 for the Olympic Games, 30,000 for the Paralympic Games. According to the official web site of the Games, more than 410,000 applications have been received to date.

In June, 2008, BOCOG will begin recruiting more than 400,000 city volunteers to help with “information, translation, first-aid and other services at 2,000 urban service stations around the competition venues and key areas of Beijing.”

Online Applications

Hong Kong residents: www.hab.gov.hk
Macao residents: www.sport.gov.mo
Chinese Taipei residents: www.bjtx.org
Overseas Chinese: www.bjqb.gov.cn
Others: www.ebeijing.gov.cn

Applications must be submitted prior to the end of March 2008. Successful candidates will be notified in May 2008.

Details

The Games of the XXIX Olympiad, in Beijing, will take place from August 8 – 24, 2008. The Games will feature competition in 28 summer sports. Some 10,500 athletes are expected to participate, and around 20,000 members of the media will cover the Games.

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Drum Tower Beijing

Drum Tower Beijing

The 47 meter-high wood, stone and tile Drum Tower originally dates from 1272 when it was at the center of the Mongol capital.

The tower was rebuilt in 1420 but has been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt over the ages. The tower was damaged in 1900 during fighting between Western forces and the Boxers.

The Drum Tower seen from the nearby Bell Tower

The building was most recently repaired in the 1980's and opened to tourists.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) 25 drums were beaten to mark the hours of the day. On display is the large Night Watchman's Drum and several replica drums.

The Drum Tower offers good views of the nearby Bell Tower and the rooftops of the hutong below.

The Drum Tower and the Bell Tower together formed the time-keeping center of the ancient city in the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

Access - Getting There

The Drum Tower (Gulou)
Tel: 6401 2674
The nearest subway station is Gulou on the Circle Line.

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Art in Dashanzi Factory 798

Art Dashanzi Factory 798 Arts Area

Art in this area is not the traditional Chinese painting of brush and ink on paper or silk, rather it is a departure from these traditions that occurred during the 20th century.

Art in the Dashanzi area is innovative and contemporary in style. Art collecting has become a fashionable hobby among many, so there is a quietly, vibrant atmosphere in this area as you browse the galleries or visit the classy cafes.

Dashanzi Factory 798



Dashanzi Factory 798
Photographer: Russell Uebergang

Bus 915, 918 or 934 will take you from Dongzhimen station.

This is the centre of Beijing's art community. Factory 798 has galleries, studios, art and book shops, long with restaurants and cafes.

Dashanzi Factory 798
Dashanzi Factory 798
There are many galleries to browse with frequently new exhibits. Gallery names include: Beijing Commune, Marella Gallery, Beijing Tokyo Arts Projects, the Chinese Contemporary, Star Gallery, White Space.

Dashanzi Factory 798
Dara Gallery
Specific galleries can be contacted as below:
798 Photo Gallery Telephone: 64381784 or 64375284 Open 10 am - 6 pm, Tuesday to Sunday

798 Red T Space Telephone:
89115762 www.redt.net
Open 10 am - 6 pm, Tuesday to Sunday

Red Gate Gallery Telephone: 65251005
Open 11 am - 6 pm, Tuesday to Sunday

Beijing Commune Telephone: 86549428 www.beijingcommune.com
Dashanzi Factory 798
Dashanzi Factory 798
Beijing Tokyo Art Projects (BTAP) Telephone: 84573245 www.tokyo-gallery.com/btap
Open 10.30 am - 6 pm, Tuesday to Sunday

China Art Seasons Telephone: 64311900
www.artseasons.com.sg
Open 11 am to 7 pm, Tuesday to Sunday

Dimensions Art Centre Telephone: 64359665
www.dimensions-art.com
Open 11 am - 7 pm, Tuesday to Sunday

Marella Gallery Telephone: 64334055 www.marellabeijing.com
Open 10 am - 6 pm, Tuesday to Sunday

Galleria Continua Telephone: 64361005 www.galleriacontinua.com
Open 11 am - 6 pm, Tuesday to Sunday

New Long March Space Telephone: 64387107
www.longmarchspace.com
Open 11 am - 7 pm, Tuesday to Sunday
Dashanzi Factory 798
Dashanzi Factory 798

offiCina Telephone: 64361191 www.officinaltd.com
Open noon - 7 pm, Tuesday to Sunday

Paris Beijing Photo Gallery Telephone: 84599263
www.parisbeijingphotogallery.com
Call for opening times or appointments, though it is usually open similar hours
to other galleries.

Platform China 798 Project Space Telephone: 64388451 www.platformchina.org
Open 11 am - 6 pm

Star Gallery Telephone: 8456591 www.stargallery.cn
Open 11 am - 6 pm

Tang Contemporary Telephone: 64363518/3658 www.tangcontemporary.com
Call for appointment or updated opening times

Dashanzi Factory 798
Modern art in Beijing
Timezone 8 Editions Telephone: 84560336 www.timezone8.com
Open 10 am - 8 pm, Tuesday to Sunday Xindong Cheng Space I and III Telephone:
64334579 www.chengxindong.com
Open 10 am - 5 pm daily

White Space Beijing Telephone: 84562054 www.alexanderochs-galleries.de
Open noon to 6 pm, Tuesday to Sunday

Downtown Art Galleries 89 Promenade Des
Arts Gallery Building D, Room 1010, Langbao Gongyu, Xidawang Lu, Chao Yang District
Telephone: 85999974 or 41059246 www.89-gallery.com
Open 3 pm - 9 pm, Wednesday, Friday to Sunday or by appointment

Amelie Art Gallery
Room 505, Apt. 5, China Central Plaza, No 89, Jianguomen, Chao Yang District
Telephone: 65307048 www.longyibang.com
Call for an appointment
Dashanzi Factory 798
Dashanzi Factory 798
C5Art 5 Sanlitun Xiwujie, Chao Yang District Telephone: 64603950 www.c5art.com
Open 10 am - 7 pm daily

Red Gate Gallery Dongbianmen Watchtower, Chongwen District
Telephone: 65251005 www.redgategallery.com
Open 10 am - 5 pm daily

Instituto Cervantes A-1 Gongti Nan Lu, Chao Yang District
Telephone: 58799666

Wan Fung Art Gallery 136 Nanchizi Dajie, Dongcheng District
Telephone: 65233320 www.wanfung.com.cn
Open 10 am - 5 pm daily

Beijing Museum of Contemporary Art Changdiancun Xi Lu,
Chao Yang District Telephone: 89524979 Open Monday to Friday by appointment,
1 pm - 6 pm, Saturday and Sunday

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Antiques and Furniture Shopping in Beijing

Antiques and Furniture Shopping in Beijing

Antiques City (Guwancheng), also known as Beijing Curio City

21 Dongsanhuan Nan Lu, Chao Yang District
Telephone: 67747711
Open 9.30 am - 6.30 pm daily

For those people interested in collecting antiques, you may wish to pay a visit to Guwancheng. The prices are higher than average market prices and the vendors are more serious with the goods more likely to be genuine than ‘antiques’ in many markets. However, remember you are in China and there is always the possibility of a copy being sold.

Antiques and Furniture Shopping in Beijing

Panjiayuan Antiques Market

West of Panjiayuan Qiao, Dongsanhuan Nan Lu, Chao Yang District
Telephone: 67752405

Nearby to Guwancheng is Panjiayuan, a famous antique market in Beijing, also known as the dirt market. You will find many lively and interesting characters here. Be sure to bring your camera, but watch your valuables with a keen eye!

This market has developed from one of vendors spreading a cloth on the ground to sell their wares to one of reproduction shop houses and huge metal roofed shed structures covering row upon row of individual stalls. If you move the peripheries of the market you will still find some vendors selling their wares on the ground, where there is a wide range of paraphernalia for sale.

There are over 3000 vendors who sell goods from around China. You will find clothing, jewellery, furniture, porcelain, statues, calligraphy, cultural revolution memorabilia, ceramics, Tibetan carpets and countless other bits and pieces ranging in age from the ancient to modern. However a real antique would be extremely rare!
This market is often crowded with hard bargaining required. Be sure to come with some idea of price before you start bargaining.
The best time to find the bargains is from 6.30 to 8.30 am on weekends, but a great range of goods are for sale until 4 pm on weekends. A more limited range of goods is available through the week.
Panjianyuan is well worth a visit just to look and enjoy the atmosphere.

Zhaojia Chaowai Furnitiure Market

43 Huawei Beili, Chao Yang District
Telephone: 67706402

This market offers a large range of old and new Chinese designed furniture, along with a few carpet stalls and small home decoration items scattered throughout many stalls. The carpet stall on the left as you walk in the main entrance offers some excellent examples of woolen carpets from Xinjiang Province in far northwest China. This market is a good place to start if you are interested in buying traditional Chinese furniture.
Be warned that when buying furniture you may experience movement or cracking in some products according to your humidity conditions and the timber used in making the furniture.

Gaobeidian Classic Furniture Market

Gaobeidian Village, Chao Yang District

If you are seriously buying furniture to ship home, this village is well worth a visit. It sells a large range of older style furniture or new styles influenced by old designs.

Other Markets in Beijing

Panjiayuan Market

Read more on Beijing Cloisonne

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Back Lakes Area

Back Lakes Area

Back Lakes Area

If (when) the construction site that is much of Beijing becomes too much, the tour groups at the major sites: Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall, etc. too overwhelming, it is time to head to the Back Lakes area.

It is close to downtown, green, a bit funky, has a great hutong, and is quiet. And, perhaps in an odd twist of fortune, the Back Lakes area is with one exception a bit of a walk from the nearest subway stop.

The Back Lakes area consists of three lakes: Xi Hai (西海), Hou Hai (后海), Qian Hai (前海) that are strung together north of Bei Hai (北海), which is a large lake south of Dian Men Xi Daijie street.

There is a lot of greenery and the buildings in the area area still on a human-scale.

The hutong in the Back Lakes is well preserved and its narrow alleys make for great exploring.

Back Lakes Area

There are also many restaurants and bars in the area.

Places to See

Prince Gong’s Mansion

This is the best-preserved royal residence in Beijing. Located on Longtoujing Jie a ten-minute walk from the Silver Ingot Bridge, a small bridge that spans Hou Hai and Qian Hai lakes.

Hutong

Great for strolling and getting lost.

Drum Tower


Drum Tower

A short walk from the Silver Ingot Bridge, the Drum Tower is on Dia’n Men Wai Daijie. Climb up to the top for great views of the surrounding area.

Mei Lanfang Guju

This is the residence of the great Mei Lanfang, a legendary opera star. A beautiful courtyard residence, it is on Meidaije west of Prince Gong’s Mansion.

Access - Getting There

Jishuitan Station is close to Xi Hai, the northernmost lake.

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

China Post

China Post 中国邮政集团公司

China Post
China Post

Befitting the Middle Kingdom, China Post has a long history.

According to its English-language site, archaeological records argue that inscriptions dating from the Yin-Shang Dynasty (14th-11th centuries B.C.) point to the existence of “communication activities” similar to postal delivery.

In the Zhou Dynasty, there were two methods of communication: drum and fire and, second, postal delivery by carriage or on foot. For the second type, delivery was categorized into “routine” and “emergency.”

The post office as we know it today however was formally set up during the Qing Dynasty.

Going back a bit, the "Post Delivery Law" of the Qin Dynasty is believed to be the first attempt at unifying postal service. It had various functions: delivery of government documents and edicts; military instruction; and so on. In order to accomplish this, road construction became a priority.

China Post


Modern Era

When China was forced to open up to the world in 1840, as a result of the Opium War, there was of course an impact on mail service. At this time, Western powers set up what came to be known as "Guest Post," which China considered a violation of its sovereignty.

Primarily, this was a system of mail boxes and offices that were set up on piers for use by foreign traders. The British set up a post office in 1834 in Guangzhou. In 1842, the head of the British troops announced the creation of the Hong Kong British Post Office.

China stamp
Stamp

According to a treaty signed in 1858 foreign envoys could receive and deliver documents and baggage - that could not be unpacked without permission. Other powers - France, the USA, Japan, and Germany -enjoyed the same rights and created their own post offices, with their own stamps and regulations.

The Qing post office was set up in 1896, but had difficulty competing with the existing post offices run by foreign powers.

After the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, in 1911, the post office of the Republic of China was founded the following year. It was renamed the Post of Republic of China, or China Post.

China Post gradually expanded until the 1931 invasion by Japan, which blocked post coming in and out of Manchuria. Problems continued until the war ended in 1945. Following the defeat of Japan, in 1945, the French withdrew from the postal business in 1946 thus ending the "Guest Post" system. In 1949, with the creation of the People’s Republic, a national postal service was created.

For a complete overview of the history of China post, click here.

For the visitor, the post office is a window into the society. Though the neighborhood postal office (pictured above) is unlikely to have many English-speakers, it is easy enough to send a letter or post card. With nearly 80,000 branches nationwide, finding a post office is fairly simple.

Postal rates

Post offices in central Beijing and near tourist areas should have someone who can help you in English with postal rates.

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Transport in Beijing China

Transport in Beijing

Beijing Bus


Getting around Beijing presents many issues like adventure, challenge, danger, time, cost, convenience and comfort.

Each day approximately 1000 new cars enter the roads and add to the challenge of making a quick trip around town.

Of course the extra cars are also adding more choking gases to the frequently gray, polluted skies of Beijing. Expect travel times around Beijing to average 12km/h if using roads. One of the bonuses of this speed is only minor accidents occur in most instances and impulsive drivers are kept more in check.

Beijing Taxi

Taxis

Taxis are comparatively cheap. Be sure the driver starts the metre (rarely a problem!) and remember that drivers do not expect a tip. Little English is spoken by taxi drivers so try to have the destination printed in Chinese characters to prevent misunderstandings.
You may get away with saying the address in Chinese, if you know it, however, many drivers do not appear to think laterally with foreigners using Chinese, so your great language skills may fall on deaf ears. Taxi cars range form aging red Citroens to more spacious and salubrious Hyundais.
Fares
a) Flagfall 10rmb for the first 3 km, then 1.6rmb/km
b) Distances more than 15 km are charged at 1.5 times normal rate
c) Night rate of 11rmb begins after 11pm with an extra 3rmb/km after the first 3 km.

Buses

Bus transport is constantly improving. At the same time there are plenty of tired and crowded buses plying the roads.
Buses numbered 1 to 100 operate within the 3rd ring road.
200-212 offer only night time travel
300’s travel through the suburbs
400’s travel from downtown out to the suburbs
600’s – 700’s travel through residential areas
900’s travel long distances within Beijing province.

Each bus stop displays bus numbers, route stops, direction of travel and first and last times of travel.
See www.bjbus.com for bus routes and more details.
Bus fares start from a hefty 1rmb and increase for longer trips. Pay by cash or transport smartcard.

Transport in Beijing China


Subways

Subway train services begin at 5 am for the metro and 6 am for light rail services. Evening services finish at 10.30 pm and 11 pm respectively. Subway travel is cheap, reliable, fast and often crowded. Fares range from 2 - 5rmb.
Motorbikes
Whether they have 2 or 3 wheels, you must have a Chinese E-class license to legally ride a motorbike, scooter or moped over 50cc. Sidecar motorbikes require a D-class license.
Electric bikes
If you choose to ride one of these less energy draining bicycles be sure that you have a 10rmb license plate on the bike.

Transport in Beijing China



Beijing cyclist

Bicycles

Great for cycling around old Beijing on a clear day. An old favourite among the locals and some foreigners is the 'Flying Pigeon' bicycle. Be sure to carry a good lock as theft is a common problem with bicycles.

Parking in designated areas with an attendant will also help prevent theft.
Rental starts at 20rmb to 120rmb per day.
Try Shuangren Yizhan rental shops from 6 am to 11 pm at Qianhai Nanyan, near Han Cang, Xicheng District, or Houhai Nanyan, near the amusement park, Xicheng District.

Bicycle Kingdom, North garden office B402-5, Oriental Plaza, Wangfujing, Dongcheng District (Tel: 8549451) www.bicyclekingdom.com


Beijing Snow

'Snowed in'
Photographer: Russell Uebergang


Delivering winter coal- Beijing

'Delivering winter coal- Beijing'
Photographer: Russell Uebergang


Tricycles

'Tricycles - used for delivering goods or people'
Photographer: Russell Uebergang


Beijing Rickshaw

'Rickshaw tour?'
Photographer: Russell Uebergang

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