Solitude at the top of the Fragrant Hills
Where there's a mountain, there's a cable car. Where there's a cable car, there are queues of people. There are 10,000 mountains in and around Beijing. 9,999 are empty at the weekends. This is the one that is not.
Despite the crowds, there is something special about the top of the Fragrant Hill: it seems like you are at the edge of civilisation as you look west over the bare hills receding into the distance. Behind is Beijing, in front....just bushes, trees and hills. No houses or signs of civilisation. It is almost reassuring to have all these fresh-faced, smiling fellow visitors for company, even if many are inclined to shout out "Helloooo" to you as if they are the first person to think of saying it. (But why, after shouting "Helloooo", does the person always dissolve into fits of giggles and nervous laughter? Is it because they have suddenly realised how utterly inane it is?)
Chinese Sports Drink
sports drinks are also available in china and they have their local version of Gatorade and Powerade and is available in 500 ml bottle and 1 liter bottles. like what I've said, it is cheaper to buy in supermarkets since it cost only 3 RMB for a 500 ml bottle while in convenience stores, it costs 7 RMB and in Tourist areas, it costs 10-12 RMB. better than water when walking in beijing as it replaces the electrolytes lost when sweating after brisk walkning.
Ice Lantern Art Festival at Longqingxia
If you enjoy ice sculptures and carvings go to Yanqing County (a spot famous for its beautiful landscapes and ice scenery in winter) for the Longqingxia Ice Lantern Festival, the only ice festival around the Beijing area and held in the lowest latitude in the world, usually for about six weeks some time between December and February.
The festival includes carnival parades, caravans, skiing, ice fishing and ice slides, colorful floats and teams of skaters, lucky draws, fireworks, etc., and all the ice lanterns displayed are based on Chinese legends, cultural interests, famous buildings and landscapes.
At the same time, you have got two nice options while participating in the festival,
- Taking a tour of the snow-covered Badaling Great Wall and enjoy the magnificent scenery
- Participating in ice sculpture, skiing competitions, and ice climbing activities at the Kangxi Grassland. Ice-skating, ice motorcycles and ice ploughs are also available for your pleasure and fun.
How to get to Yanqing:
You can take Bus 919 from Deshengmen on the North Second Ring Road to Yanqing or drive along Badaling Highway to the north end of the highway (it’s about 80 kilometers (56 miles) north of Beijing).
A good bookstore
Toward the lower end of Wangfujing street (east side) nearing Jinagoumenwai daije is Wangfujing Bookstore.
You will not find much in terms of foreign language touristic style books, but you wil be able to find books that deal with most aspect of China. As such it is interesting for visitors: maps as accurate as they come in China covering all areas of the Middle Kingdom, visitors' guides (mainly in Putonhua), post cards, relief maps, statistics etc. etc. I bought a bilingual atlas of the peoples of China - interesting as background study material. If I had space in my suitcase I would have bought a big plastic moulded relief map of China. Generally cheap, however, the said atlas was 598 Y
I flew to Beijing from Shanghai with Air China. The airline operated a Boeing 747 which was not the newest. The in-flight service was almost as if designed by Mao himself – hence not the most spectacular airline I have ever flown with. Maybe things will change as China opens more and more to tourism.
However Air China have the largest network of flights within the PR China.