Thursday, July 31, 2008

Good Luck Beijing!

Good Luck Beijing!

With just over a week until the 2008 Beijing Olympics get underway, the city is ready and waiting to host the games.

Good Luck Beijing!
Images © Daniel Allen


US Swimmer Tests Positive

US Swimmer Tests Positive

A US medal hopeful, swimmer Jessica Hardy, may not be participating in the Beijing Olympics. The California swimmer tested positive for a banned substance, with less than two weeks to appeal before the Beijing Games.

Her "A" sample from the recent U.S. Olympic trials came up positive. According to anonymous sources, the substance is a stimulant.

US Swimmer Tests Positive before Beijing Olympics

Hardy was slated to participate in the 100-meter breaststroke, and on the U.S. 400-meter free relay team.

It is not clear yet what will happen. If Hardy loses her appeal, she will be banned from the Games--and a substitute will be called up.

Her lawyer says that a tiny trace of the banned substance came up, and he is appealing now.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Grand National Theater Beijing Video

Grand National Theater Beijing Video

The Grand National Theater in Beijing is a new building not to be missed if you are visiting the city. This excellent video gives a good idea of what to expect of this architectural icon of the new Beijing.

Grand National Theater
Grand National Theater


Chinese Word of the Day

Chinese Word of the Day

This is an interesting Chinese language widget from Innovative Language, a language-learning software company.

Chinese Word of the Day

Every day the widget provides a new word and example sentence along with native speaker sound. Much of the content is focused on the games this summer, with words and phrases for events and more.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Water Cube Video

Water Cube Video

Here's an interesting video of the National Aquatics Center aka "Water Cube" which is the venue for the Olympic swimming competitions.

Water Cube
Water Cube (National Aquatics Center), Beijing


Monday, July 28, 2008

Final Countdown Beijing

Final Countdown Beijing

As the government announces closures to industries in and around Beijing, closures to the airport, traffic restrictions, opening of Olympic traffic lanes and new subway lines, the highly anticipated Beijing Olympic Games are imminent.

The government has commenced final steps to erase Beijing’s grey skies weeks before the Olympic Games begin.

New subway lines have opened
New subway lines have opened in time for the Games
Half of Beijing’s vehicles will be taken off the roads as a system of odd and even registration numbers is implemented. This plan will continue for 2 months and include the exclusion of some 300,000 industrial trucks which have mainly operated at night. People violating the restrictions can rest assured the ever watchful traffic cameras will detect their illegal actions.

Special Olympic traffic lanes will operate until 25th September meaning 265 km of roads will have lanes open only to certified Olympic vehicles. Such a strategy is aimed to ensure fast and smooth transfers between hotels, Olympic venues and the Athletes Village.

Two new subway lines are now operational. Line 10 running some 25 km from the southeast to the northwest of the city and Line 8 the 5 km Olympic spur line from Line 10 will do much to ease the traffic congestion on Beijing's roads. Line 10 is expected to move some 850,000 passengers each day during the Olympics, while Line 8 will carry about 220,000 passengers.

A third rail link running 28 km from Beijing International Airport to Dongzhimen in the city area is also operational. This link is expected to serve some 30,000 passengers each day.

Beijing Capital International Airport will be closed from 7.59 pm until midnight on 8th August. Travelers should check their ticket and airline schedules to ensure they are not inconvenienced by this closure.

With these announcements and the recent opening ceremony rehearsal it seems Beijing is truly ready to stage a spectacular Olympic event.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

China Prints

China Prints

To celebrate the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing a series of high quality, professionally mounted prints based on the photography of award-winning photographer Daniel Allen are available from BeijingVisitor.

Portraits of a Nation

High definition, glossy images (wipeable with a dry cloth) are mounted on lightweight black wood (no glass), with a reinforced metal frame on the back - prints are approximately 86 cm (34 inches) on their longest side and approximately 61 cm (23 inches) on the other.

Postage and packing available to anywhere in the world (shipping costs will vary – prices below do not include shipping).


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Olympic Torch Relay In Qufu

Olympic Torch Relay In Qufu

On July 25th the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay passed through Qufu, Confucius' birthplace in Shangdong Province in eastern China.

Confucius writings

Qufu is a peaceful, rural Chinese city with a population of around 630,000 residents, of whom 125,000 have the family name "Kong," anglicized as "Confucius."

The city is the home town of China's most famous sage and philosopher and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to pay their respects at the Confucius temple in town.

Confucian Cemetery
Images © Daniel Allen

The Temple of Confucius, the Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion are all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Temple of Confucius is also the second largest historical building complex after the Forbidden City in Beijing.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beijing Spruced Up

Beijing Spruced Up

The area around Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City has been spruced up in readiness for the upcoming Olympic Games in the city.

Beijing Olympics

Flowers have been planted and Olympic themes are everywhere to welcome visitors to China's capital.

Beijing Olympics
Images © Daniel Allen

Temperatures are presently in the mid-30's degrees Centigrade but the skies are clear with good visibility, despite the high humidity of an Asian summer.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beijing Traffic Reduction Plan In Force Today

Beijing Traffic Reduction Plan In Force Today

Beijing's new traffic reduction plan came in to effect today in the Chinese capital. Only cars with an odd or even registration number will be allowed on to the roads on alternate days from today until September 20; one day cars with even numbers, the next day only cars with odd numbers.

Beijing To Cut Cars By 50% During Olympics

Beijing's taxis, buses and emergency vehicles will be exempt from the drastic new restrictions, which the authorities are hoping will force over 3 million cars off the roads.

Odd number must be Tuesday

Over 10,000 cameras and electronic scanners have been set up on roads to enforce the law.

At the same time, 3 new rail lines have opened in Beijing: Subway Line 10, the Olympic Branch Line subway running north from Beitucheng Station on Line 10, and the Airport Line out to the new Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital Airport.

As a result of these new lines, Beijing now has 200 km of metro track.

Beitucheng Station has been designed to resemble the shape of a Chinese vase and many of the new stations incorporate design features from traditional Chinese culture.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Poly Theater Beijing

Poly Theater Beijing 保利剧院

Poly Theater (Baoli Theater) located in the Beijing Poly Plaza in Dongsishitiao is one of Beijing's most important cultural venues.

Poly Theater, Dongsishitiao, Beijing

Top-class performances from China and overseas include opera, symphony, ballet, acrobatics and musicals.

Poly Theatre is also a good venue to experience Beijing Opera and to develop an appreciation for this rare, traditional Chinese art form.

During the Olympic period the sensational China National Acrobatic Troupe are in performance until August 31. Not to be missed.

Poly Theater
No.14 South Street
Dongcheng District
Tel: 6500 1188


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dongsishitiao Imperial Granary Art Gallery

Dongsishitiao Imperial Granary Art Gallery

Dongsishitiao Imperial Granary Art Gallery in the Dongsishitiao area of Beijing is a converted imperial warehouse that now houses an art gallery.

During the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing Dynasties (1644-1912) there were over 100 of these storehouses of which only a handful now remain, all of which have been put to other uses including a theater, restaurants and cafes.

Dongsishitiao Imperial Granary Art Gallery

The gallery is just across Beijing's 2nd Ring Road from the Swissotel on the left as you walk west from Dongsishitiao subway station.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Useful Mandarin For Eating Out

Useful Mandarin For Eating Out

A few Mandarin phrases go a long way when you are eating out. If you are vegetarian or don't like spicy food, it's useful to make your preferences known from the outset.

Useful Mandarin For Eating Out

Here is some useful Chinese language for visitors to restaurants in Beijing.

Click on the links to hear the English and then the Mandarin equivalent.

Happy Eating!

Can I have the bill please?

Can I see the menu?

Do you have a knife and fork?

I don't eat meat

I don't like spicy food


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Beijing Famous Places in Mandarin

Beijing Famous Places in Mandarin

How do you say Beijing famous places in Mandarin?

Beijing Famous Places in Mandarin
How do you say "Great Wall of China" in Mandarin
Learn how to pronounce these famous places in Beijing in Mandarin.

Click on the following links to hear both the English and Mandarin.

Beihai Park 北海公园

Great Wall 长城

Ming Tombs 明朝十三陵

Old Summer Palace 圆明园

Summer Palace 颐和园

Temple of Heaven 天坛

Tiananmen Square 天安门广场

Forbidden City


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Swissotel Beijing

Swissotel Beijing

Beijing's Swissotel (Book this hotel with Agoda) in the Dongsishitiao area of the capital is an excellent accommodation for the Beijing Olympics.

Swissotel Beijing
Book this hotel with Agoda

The 5-star hotel has 430 rooms and some excellent facilities: swimming pool, tennis courts and conference center.

Access - Getting There

2 Chao Yang Men Bei Da Jie


Wednesday, July 09, 2008



Kyrgyzstan borders China to its west with the nearest point of access being from Kashgar in Xinjiang Province.

Eki Naryn Jailoo, Kyrgyzstan
Eki Nailoo Valley meadows

Kyrgyzstan has unbelievable mountain scenery, friendly, hospitable people, cheap accommodation, terrible roads, huge kebabs and not a sign of a McDonalds or Starbucks anywhere.

Eki Naryn Jailoo, Kyrgyzstan
Eki Nailoo Valley meadows

Kyrgyzstan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 along with the other four Central Asian Republics: Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyzstan has a population of over 5 million people with its capital at Bishkek. The economy is mainly based on agriculture with tobacco and cotton the two main exports. Overall the country remains poor with GDP per capital estimated at 2,000 USD per capita and with a 20% unemployment rate.

Karakol Cathedral, Kyrgyzstan
Images © Daniel Allen

Pictured are the Eki Nailoo Valley meadows and the 19th century, restored, wooden Russian Orthodox Karakol Cathedral, in Karakol, western Kyrgyzstan.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Beijing Hotels Update

Beijing Hotels Update 2008

Beijing continues to have a high rate of new hotel rooms being developed in preparation not only for the Olympics but also for the ever increasing numbers of tourism and business travelers visiting the city.

The massive expansion in the hotel industry is not just in five star hotels but includes three and four star hotels along with the slow to develop boutique hotels. Increasing numbers of hotels will continue to be built after the Olympics to cater for growing demands of travelers.

Beijing Hotels

Enticingly stylish boutique hotels can be found developing in some of Beijing's ancient hutongs among the courtyard homes and busy street life that characterizes the hutongs. Other boutique hotels have been newly built and prove more popular with the Chinese market than hotels developed from poverty associated courtyard homes.

New Five Star Hotels include:

Hotel G
7 Gongti Xi Lu
Chao Yang District

Glitzy, glamorous and gracious this new hotel has rooms available for the Olympics starting at 6500RMB for 4 nights available through avantgardehotels.
Situated near the Worker's Stadium this hotel is ideally located for excellent shopping, dining and drinking options. This 1960's retro chic style hotel opens 1st July 2008. Rooms are generously sized. The hotel includes a fine Japanese restaurant.

Doubletree by Hilton
Due to open in time for the Olympic Games
Located in the Financial District west of Tiananmen Square

The Opposite House
Building 1
#11 Sanlitun Lu
Chaoyang District
Beijing 100027
Tel: +86106476688
Fax: +861064177799

A 99 room hotel part of a large high-end shopping development in Sanlitun called The Village.
Restaurants include:

Sureno serving Mediterranean
Bei serving north Asian cuisine
Mesh lounge bar
Punk with live DJs

The Langham

Opening late this year The Langham Place Beijing Capital Airport and Langham Place Beijing Chaoyang, located near the Chaoyang business district north east of the city.

Park Hyatt
Due to open soon in the tallest building on Chang'an Avenue in the Yintai Centre.

Mandarin Oriental Beijing

Opening in the China Central Television development right by East Third Ring Road during the last half of 2008 this hotel is bound to be popular in such a famous landmark building.

Boutique Hotels include:

Hotel Cote Cour SL
70 Yan Yue Hutong
Dongcheng District
Tel: 65128020

Opened 2007 with just 14 rooms surrounding a Ming Dynasty courtyard, this elegant hotel combines history with modern comfort and convenience. A central garden with a lotus pond and a bar where breakfast, dinner and drinks help to your stay in Cote Cour SL enjoyably unique. Great professional service will help ensure you have a memorable stay in this delightful hotel. Ideally located close to Wangfujing and close to the lively bars of Houhai where you can enjoy a relaxing stroll around the lake or visit the many bars and restaurants.

Guixiang 20
20 Nanluoguxiang
Dongcheng District
Tel: 64005566

Also opened in 2007 this beautifully photogenic, 28 room hotel is located right on the famous Nanluoguxiang with its many small restaurants, bars, coffee shops and boutiques that attract many of Beijing's tourists. The hotel successfully integrates traditional decorations and features with modern conveniences like room service, internet access and satellite tv.
Rooms start at 1280RMB

Beijing Hotels Update

Hotel Kapok
16 Donghuamen Dajie
Dongcheng District
Tel: 65259988

Ideally located for those wanting to visit Beijing's famous Forbidden City or the centre of the city, Hotel Kapok couldn't get any closer to the Forbidden City. Providing 62 rooms and 27 suites this hotel was built from a former government building which designer Zhu Pei covered in a grid of frosted fibreglass. The Kapok makes the most of natural light to create a light and airy environment. Guests get the distinct feeling of a clean spacious, airy, green environment with the use mirrors, glass and ginko printed wallpapers, huge bathtubs and even little courtyards in some rooms.

Rooms start at 960RMB

Xinyuan Inn
21 Yandai Xiejie Lu
Xicheng District
Tel: 64014753

Recently opened in 2007 this 35 room hotel on Yandai is right in the heart of the Houhai area with very clean rooms, cheerful staff ready to help with all travel needs. Bicycles are available for rent and the Houhai area provides numerous restaurants for eating. The hotel provides a rooftop bar ideal for warm summer evenings.

Hotels in Beijing


Monday, July 07, 2008

Olympic Torch in Kashgar Xinjiang

Olympic Torch in Kashgar Xinjiang

On June 18th the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay was in Kashgar, one of the major town's of Xinjiang province in western China.

Olympic Torch in Kashgar Xinjiang

The torch relay started at the Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China, in the centre of Kashgar and finished at People's Square (pictured).

Olympic Torch in Kashgar Xinjiang

The ancient oasis city located on the Silk Road now has a population of just over 200,000 inhabitants, with an ethnic mix of Uyghurs, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Han Chinese.

Olympic Torch in Kashgar Xinjiang, China
Images © Daniel Allen


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Factories Close In Tianjin For Olympics

Factories Close In Tianjin For Olympics

40 factories in Tianjin will be temporarily closed later this month in an attempt to reduce air pollution in Beijing during the Olympic Games.

The busy industrial port city of Tianjin has an urban area in size only behind that of Shanghai and Beijing. Tianjin will also host some of the games of the Olympic soccer tournament.

Tianjin, China
Air pollution in Beijing
Xinhua news agency reported that 26 construction sites, six factories and two cement works will close.

In Tangshan, 150 km east of the capital up to 300 factories have been ordered to shut down for the duration of the Games.

We will be bringing you regular updates on air quality and the weather from Beijing.

Winter weather in Beijing


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Olympic Torch in Xian

Olympic Torch in Xian

Yesterday the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay was in Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province.

Terracotta Army, Xian
Terracotta Army

Xian, formerly known as Chang'an was China's ancient capital and is best known for the Terracotta army -- an 8000-strong underground army buried in front of the Emperor Qinshihuang's tomb to protect him in the afterlife and only discovered by accident in the 1970's.

Terracotta Army, Xian
Terracotta Army
The Emperor's mausoleum is still sealed but some of the clay soldiers are now housed in a nearby museum and are a major tourist draw. The imperial city of Chang'an stood on the old Silk Road and its grid-iron street plan of criss-crossing streets served as the model for other Chinese cities, such as Beijing as well as Kyoto in Japan.

Terracotta Army, Xian, China
Images © Daniel Allen


Thursday, July 03, 2008

National Stadium Ready!

National Stadium Ready!

On Saturday 28th June, 2008 China's National Stadium was declared complete. This in effect signaled all 37 Olympic venues are ready for the Beijing Olympic Games.

National Stadium Ready!

The stadium seats 91,000 spectators in its bowl shaped structure of huge steel beams resembling a bird’s nest. An eye catching building since the unveiling of the winning design by Herzog and Meuron in conjunction with China Architecture Design & Research Institute millions of people are waiting with great anticipation for its grand opening with the commencement of the Beijing Olympic Games at 8 pm on the 8th August, 2008.

Olympic fans booked to enjoy events in the stadium can rest assured that everyone with a seat will have excellent views of the spectacular sporting action in this stunning, yet intimate arena. Australian fans will be especially excited about visiting the stadium for the Olympics because the first gold medal awarded at this magnificent venue was to an Australian, Jared Tallent on April 18 during a test event.

China's National Stadium

The environmentally friendly stadium uses solar energy and collects 58,000 tonnes of water annually. The water will be used for irrigation and cleaning purposes around the stadium.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge is said to have compared China's National Stadium with other iconic buildings like the Sydney Opera House, saying that the stadium would become a landmark of China.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

HSBC Premier Asia Travel Tips

Asia Travel Tips

• ATM Tips

Look for network acceptance logos by checking your card match its logo, ex/VISA, MasterCard, with the logo on the ATM
Make sure your ATM PIN number is a six-digit figure
Remove your card shortly after insertion into an ATM. Certain ATMs retain your card if it is not taken within a 10-15 second time frame
Know your bank’s cash withdrawal limits before you leave
HSBC ATM machines can dispense a maximum of RMB3,000 per withdrawal instruction
Cash is more popular in China than in many Western countries
• NOTE: There are 27 HSBC ATM machines in Beijing. The ATM machines of HSBC can accept ATM cards bearing these logos: VISA, MasterCard, Plus, Maestro, Cirrus.

ATM Tips

• Credit Card Tips
Do not use personal checks when retail shopping
Ask merchants about credit card minimum charges

• Local Currency Tips
• Watch out for counterfeit notes. If you have to exchange cash, reputable sources such as banks or hotels are recommended. Notes that are old, tattered or torn are also sometimes hard to spend
• Only CNY20,000 cash is permitted each entry/exit
• The limit of foreign currency cash you bring to China at a time is USD5,000 cash (or its equivalent in any other currency). Any excess sum must be declared to China Customs

• Foreign exchange Tips
• When exchanging foreign currency, a valid passport is required
• The exchange rate offered by airports, hotels and department stores may be less competitive, and commission may be charged

• Life Tips
• Country Dialing Code: Mainland China: +86; Hong Kong +852
• When dialing fixed telephones in China, please add 0 before the regional code. If you dial the telephones of countries or regions other than mainland China, you must use an international prefix such as 00 or the + sign

• Phones
• It is easy to buy a SIM card at most mobile phone counters of electronic appliance department stores, and to substitute that for your regular SIM card

Phones in Beijing

Key Chinese Phrases
• Thank you —— xiè xiè
• I don’t understand —— wo bù míng bái
• Help —— jiù mìng
• How much it is —— duō shao qián
• Goodbye —— zài jiàn
• Weights & Measures:Metric

• Internet Service
• Utilize internet Cafes in Beijing
• fee is often 3 Yuan per hour – ID card or passport is required.
• Avoid using Internet Banking, or any other Internet services which require the use of critical passwords, at Internet Cafés, libraries, and other public sites to avoid the risk of information being copied and abused after you leave.

Chinese etiquette
• In China, embracing is not a common way to greet each other, except between family members and very good friends. Kissing, whether on the cheeks or on hands, is unacceptable to the Chinese.
• The handshake is common for social and business occasions as an expression of courtesy and greeting when people meet or say goodbye to each other. But please note that when shaking hands with a Chinese woman, do not hold it too tightly - a light shake of the fingers will do the job.

HSBC Premier

HSBC Premier is the world’s most comprehensive financial management service offering a range of banking, investment and financing solutions to clients whose investable income exceeds $100K.

HSBC Premier provides international recognition and support, international services, credit card rewards and protection around the world, and financial planning and wealth management through a single Premier Relationship Manager. With Premier Centers in 35 countries and territories, HSBC Premier gives open-minded, future-focused clients a banking experience free of geographical limitations.

Within the United States, HSBC Premier Centers can be found in Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Westport, CT, and White Plains, NY. Additionally, there are 250 Premier Centers worldwide.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hongqiao Pearl Market Promotion

Hongqiao Pearl Market Promotion

Olympic Games fans and anyone else who enjoys shopping should not miss out on the opportunity to visit the world’s largest pearl market. Hongqiao Pearl Market is holding a three month promotion with cultural activities in this freshly renovated market place.

Pearl Market

Visitors can buy pearls, gems and precious stones from this popular market that has been host to approximately 6000 world leaders, celebrities and other dignitaries in recent times.

Many people visiting Beijing ensure they visit the Great Wall, Forbidden City, the National Stadium in Olympic Park, eat Beijing Duck and shop at Xiushui Market and Hongqiao Market. Be sure not to miss out on the opportunities offered at this popular market where you can buy almost anything from pearls and gems to electronics, clothing and souvenirs.

Markets in Beijing

Panjiayuan Market

Yashow Market

Read more on Beijing Cloisonne