Tuesday, May 29, 2007

St. Michael's Church

St. Michael's Church, also known as Dongjiaomin Catholic Church in the Foreign Legation Quarter, a 15 minute walk east from Tiananmen Square, was built in 1902.

St. Michael's Church, Beijing

The twin-spired, Gothic-style church served as the place of Christian worship for the French community of Beijing. The church was closed in 1958 and did not reopen again until 1989.

The church is known for its beautiful stained glass windows. Mass is held from 6.30am on weekdays and at 7am, 8am and 6pm on Sundays. English services are held on Fridays and Sundays.

St. Michael's Church
Dongjiao Minxiang
Tel: 651 35170

Sunday Mass: 7.00am, 8.00am, 6.00pm
Weekday Mass: 6.30am

Hotels in Beijing

Books on China and Beijing

Book the Capital Hotel Beijing Book the Beijing Downtown Holiday Inn

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Beijing Traditional Toy Making

Beijing Traditional Toy Making

Within the city near the Confucius Temple there are a small number of craftsmen who are continuing on the tradition of toy making. As you enter the temple street, opposite the Lama Temple, you will pass through a traditional Chinese gateway and into a quaint little tree lined street.

Beijing Traditional Toy Making Beijing Traditional Toy Making


















As you wander along the street you will find a traditional tea tasting shop, coffee shops and a small hall where locals rehearse with their traditional musical instruments. You will certainly hear them if they are rehearsing. Don't miss the small shops selling souvenirs from around China where you can find a range of treasures.
Beijing Traditional Toy MakingBeijing Traditional Toy Making
Products include beasts made from cloth, painted kites, and clay figures. There is a tiny shop near the Confucius Temple in Beijing’s Dongcheng district run by Lian Daxing.
Guozijian Jie
Dongcheng District











Further along the street is Shengtangxuan run by the Tang family who make paper and cloth kites, Manchurian clay toys and Beijing Opera masks. Tang Qiliang is a Manchurian in his 80’s and started making toys about 70 years ago. A number of his toys can be seen in the China Art Gallery and Capital Museum. The toys made by Tang are influenced by classic tales like Journey to the West and the legend of The Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea. Visitors to the shop can also buy wooden spinning tops, toy drums and paper windmills. Prices are extremely reasonable.
  Beijing Traditional Toy Making
Open daily from 9am to 7pm
Guozijian Jie
Dongcheng District
Telephone: 8404 7179

Visit these shops to enjoy a special kind of craftsmanship.

Photographs by Russell Uebergang

Beijing Carpets Furniture Stoneware and other crafts

Chinese carpets
Carpets, Traditional Chinese furniture, stone ware and other crafts
People with an interest in carpet shopping have an outstanding opportunity to save themselves a lot of time, money and running around if they pay a visit to Xu Antique Carpets. Mr Xu has collected genuinely old carpets from across China and other famous carpet regions of the eastern world including Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kashmir.
Chinese carpets
He has been collecting thousands of these old carpets from around China amassing a collection so famous sellers from Tibet and Xinjiang come to buy their carpets from Xu Antique Carpets to sell in their home regions.

Chinese carpets
Chinese crafts
Meeting Mr Xu will give you the opportunity to talk about his most prized carpet, one previously used by the Dali Lama, now valued at around US$3 000 000. You may even have the chance to enjoy seeing this much prized carpet.

Chinese carpets
If you have your own carpet pattern in mind, take it along and have Mr Xu’s staff weave the carpet for you. Prices vary according to the quality needed, but an example of cost would be 1.8m x 1m for around 3000rmb. Natural fibres and natural dyes are an integral part of production in the Xu carpet factory.

Chinese carpets
Xu’s Antique Carpets will also clean and repair your carpets should you need that sort of service.
Chinese carpetsBeijing crafts

Xu's Antique Carpets can be found south of the city off the south 4th Ring road. It would be best to call and ask someone to tell your taxi driver how to get to this amazing carpet emporium without getting lost.

Chinese craftsChinese crafts

On the same road and area there is a range of traditional wooden furniture shops with some shops also selling some porcelain products.

Chinese furniture

Chinese furniture
These shops are well worth a browse if you have the time where you will see craftsmen carving furniture by hand or machine.

Chinese furnitureChinese furniture

Additionally there are a number of businesses selling traditional stone products like door stones, tables and stools, traditional stone carved lions and the like. The dealers are only too happy to take you into their businesses and homes to show you their treasures.

Chinese craftsChinese crafts

Xu's Antique Carpets
Telephone: (+8610) 5165 0303
www.xccrugs.com

Photographs by Russell Uebergang

Hotels in Beijing

Books on China and Beijing

Book the Capital Hotel Beijing Book the Beijing Downtown Holiday Inn

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ancient Observatory Beijing

北京古觀象台

Built during the reign of Kublai Khan from 1437-1446, Beijing's Ancient Observatory was first used by astrologers to predict the omens for Kublai Khan's land and sea campaigns.


Scientific instruments on display on the roof of the Ancient Observatory

In the early 1600s Jesuit missionaries became the Chinese court's official scientific advisers and a collection of the Catholic order's bronze, Western-influenced, scientific instruments is on display on the roof of the building.

The instruments include: an armillary sphere, an azimuth theodolite, a celestial globe, a quadrant, a sextant and a theodolite.

Chinese flag on the roof of the Ancient Observatory

The astrological devices were built under the supervision of various Jesuit missionary scholars to impress the Chinese rulers and are a fascinating design mix of East and West. The Jesuits also passed on the techniques of cannon-making!
Special viewing events are held at the observatory on the occasion of special celestial happenings, such as comets and eclipses.


Access

Ancient Observatory
2 Dongbiaobei Hutong, Dongcheng
Tel: 6524 2202
Hours: 9am-4pm

Beijing's Ancient Observatory is just a stone's throw from Jianguomen Subway Station. The observatory is 15 minute walk north from the South East Corner Watchtower.

© Beijing-Visitor.com

Books on China and Beijing

Book the Capital Hotel Beijing Book the Beijing Downtown Holiday Inn

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Jingshan Park

景山公园
Jingshan Park, Beijing Immediately across the road from the north entrance to the Forbidden City lies Jingshan Park. Jingshan Park is also known as Coal Hill. It owes its existence to the moat built around the Forbidden City in 1420. Not only did the park provide somewhere to store the soil dug out of the moat, but it was planned in line with fengshui practice to protect the palace from the northern winds.
Jingshan Park, Beijing An interesting story about Jingshan Park is associated with the Ming Dynasty because the last emperor hung himself as Manchu troops came to Beijing. There is a marker and notice board with the story on the eastern path in the park.
Jingshan Park Climbing to the top of the hill offers wonderful views across the Forbidden City. Early morning is the best time for photographs.
Jingshan Park, Beijing The park is full of surprises and treats. During the springtime it is a blaze of colour with the flowering of thousands of peonies. Wander around the park and enjoy the many huge, delicate blooms that these plants produce in a range of pinks, whites and maroons.
Jingshan Park, Beijing Adding to the joy of the colourful display is experience of mixing with thousands of Jingshan Park’s local population who come to exercise or relax in the park. You are in for a real treat if you time your visit to a Sunday morning when people come to exercise with tai chi, sword dancing, dancing, skipping or simply strolling the many paths around, up or down the hill in the centre of the park. If you enjoy mass choirs you are in the right place to be entertained by choirs both small and large. You will be welcomed to join in with the fun, or to relax and enjoy the skills of many novice performers. Jingshan Park band, Beijing
Jingshan Park, Beijing












The park has some excellent bonsai displays, along with changing indoor displays of Chinese handicrafts or art work.
Jingshan Park, Beijing
Open: 6am to 10pm every day
Cost: 5 rmb
1 Wenjing Street, Xicheng District
Telephone: 64044071
Jingshan Park, Beijing

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Zhongshan Park

中山公园
Zhongshan Park
Zhongshan Park is a wonderful escape into a more natural environment after visiting museums, galleries and Tiananmen Square.
Zhongshan ParkZhongshan Park Beijing
Zhongshan Park, Beijing, China
Spring is particularly stunning in Zhongshan Park. There are huge swathes of tulips planted throughout the park lining paths, or adding splashes of colour under avenues of trees. It really has to be seen if visiting Beijing during the spring.

Zhongshan Park












In addition to the stunning tulips there are also impressive displays of wisteria, bamboo and peonies. Cherry and apple blossom can also be enjoyed in the early days of spring.

Zhongshan Park, Beijing, China
The park has a beautifully landscaped lake surrounded by trees and crossed by arched bridges. This area features a mix of blossom trees, bulbs and annuals to create a festive spring atmosphere which is frequently reflected in the water of the lake.
Zhongshan Park, Beijing, China

If visiting the park during the May Day holiday don’t expect to be alone. The park is very popular with many Beijingers and visitors from other parts of China. At the same time you can still find a quiet area to sit and ‘watch the world go by’ or alternatively strike up a conversation with some of the friendly locals wanting to practice their English.
Zhongshan Park, Beijing, China

Those who enjoy being on the water can also hire a boat to cruise the Forbidden City moat. Alternatively, if you visit during winter, hire a pair of skates and enjoy the ice.
Zhongshan Park, Beijing, China
Zhongshan Park is open daily 6.30am-8pm during the winter and 6am-9pm during the summer.
Telephone: 6605 5431
Zhongshan Park, Beijing, China Photography by Russell Uebergang

Education in China

Chinese schools focus on preparing students for the extremely competitive entry exams for middle school, high school and university.

Education in China
The curriculum is strongly orientated towards reading and writing Chinese, lots of mathematics and memorizing large amounts of textbook information.

  Education in China

Education is compulsory for the first nine years with six years at primary school and three years at secondary school. Children start primary school at five and a half years old and attend school for 5 days a week. The school year is nine and a half months long. Students in city schools attend school all day, whereas in the country school hours are more flexible, often only half a day long.


Education in China Photography by Russell Uebergang

Hotels in Beijing

Books on China and Beijing

Book the Capital Hotel Beijing Book the Beijing Downtown Holiday Inn

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tea in Beijing China

Tea tasting in China
As expected tea is an important part of the local drinks menu. There are many different varieties of tea available to enjoy. Whether you enjoy oolong tea, green tea, red tea (black tea) or other lesser known varieties, it is well worth taking time out to enjoy a tea ceremony to try the huge range of teas and learn a little more about the drink for which China is so famous.

All the tea in China
Just as there are markets or streets famous for buying other products in Beijing, there is also a ‘Tea Street’ where you will find tea markets and 600 tea shops selling over 500 kinds of fresh tea. Of course you will be rewarded for your visit by saving considerable money on prices offered in other tea shops found anywhere else in Beijing. Expect savings of 30-50%. This means paying around 30 rmb for half a kilo. (Remember the local “jin” equals half a kilo.) There are still the more expensive teas available where you pay prices like 200rmb per half kilo.
Chinese tea
China’s most famous green tea is Xihu Longjing Tea. It is also known as Dragonwell tea in English. This tea is described as having a nutty, sweet flavour. Green tea is famous for high levels of Vitamin C and anti-oxidants.
Tea in China
Tieguanyin is China’s most famous oolong tea. Tieguanyin is grown in Fujian province. It has been described as having a fruity aroma with buttery sweet flavours coming through each time hot water is added. When you buy it look for a deep emerald colour.

Pu’er tea is sold as loose tea or in pressed cakes. It is a tea that improves with age. It is said to help you lose weight and improve circulation. If it tastes mouldy or like a fungus buy a different tea, as it is likely the tea has become “wet”.


Tea sets, tea pots and tea cups can also be purchased if you want to take home the local style made from ceramic or cloisonné.


Tea Street can be found at Maliandrao Chayecheng, Xuanwe District, diagonally opposite the Hong Kun International Hotel. Tea street is full of small tea shops and larger tea markets. Some markets and tea shops are also found in streets running off the main tea street. Interesting side trips for shopping in this street include a camera market on the top floor of Tea Joy Market, Nike factory outlet store opposite Tea Joy Market and a large Carrefour Supermarket next door to Tea Joy Market.
Tea in China

Other famous tea shops include:
Jia Xiang Tea Shop
Famous for tea from Fujian
44 Yandai Xiejie, Houhai, Xicheng District
Telephone: 6407 1946

Ten Fu’s Tea
A large Taiwanese tea chain.
Danyao Dasha, Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng District.
Telephone: 6524 0958

Photographer: Russell Uebergang

http://www.chinavista.com/experience/tea/tea.html
http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/cuisine_drink/tea/
http://chinese-tea.net/

http://www.concierge.com/destination/beijing/shopping/detail?id=11795