Thursday, January 31, 2008

Guzheng

古箏

The guzheng or Chinese zither is often played in restaurants and at banquets in China.

The music is truly evocative of traditional China bringing to mind the movement of water in summer streams and soft breezes over the rice fields.



This performance was at the renovated Rainbow Hotel, west of the Temple of Heaven Park.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Cube opens

The National Aquatics Center in Beijing known as The Cube opened on Monday.

The Cube, Beijing

The swimming and diving pools have been filled and the last of the blue and white high-tech seats installed. A test is slated for tomorrow in the swimming pool.

In future, members of the public will be able to use the facility for around 30 yuan (USD 4.20).

The Cube Beijing

images © Daniel Allen

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Zhongguancun Plaza Shopping Mall

Zhongguancun Shopping CentreThis huge, newly developed 200,000 square metre shopping mall will provide the most avid shopper with hours and hours of shopping, eating, leisure and entertainment activities. The centre is both a multistory above and below ground development. It is easy to wander for hours and wonder where you will surface once you descend into the labyrinth of shops below ground level.

Shopping includes thousands of famous brands from around the world as well as local brands. Shops cater for ordinary people’s popular choices or those wanting to spend mega dollars.

Food outlets offer domestic and international choices in various colours and forms from outlets throughout the complex. Some of the many include Mr Pizza, Fresh Plus International Buffet, Banana Leaf Thai Restaurant, Food Republic, The 8th Restaurant, Red Station, Haagen Dazs, Tenfu Tea, Bread Talk, Subway and Xia Bu Xia Bu.

Zhongguancun Sport CityEntertainment and leisure facilities include a sky garden platform, amusement park and theatres.

While all areas are connected there are five major sections. ZGC plaza shopping mall, ZGC Plaza Pedestrian Shopping Street, French Carrefour, Korean MEGABOX and La Vita & Sport City.

Shop for clothing, sports wear, shoes, bags, ornaments, gifts, jewelry, glasses, cosmetics, furniture, children’s products, audio, books, video, supermarket products, drugs and health products.

One interesting Chinese gift shop worth highlighting for their environmental theme and support for local artists is Feng Guo Box. Products for sale include shopping bags made from natural products for use instead of plastic shopping bags and jewelry made from recycled materials.

For more information in Chinese, click here.

Those interested in electronics should not miss the nearby electronics markets. Zhongguancun Plaza is right in the heart of Beijing’s very own ‘Silicon Valley’. See Beijing-Visitor’s “Electronics shopping in Beijing” for more details.

Access
Zhongguancun Plaza Shopping Mall via the north Fourth Ring Road, Zhongguancun Exit, First Bridge. The nearest Beijing Underground station is Wudaokou on Line 13. This shopping area is south of Haidian District and Peking University. Most taxi drivers will easily get you there if you say “Bei si huan lu, Zhong Guan Cun da sha”.

www.zplaza.net

010 5986-3030 Zhongguancun Plaza Shopping Mall
010 5986-3755 Zhongguancun Pedestrian Shopping Street

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Electronics shopping in Beijing

Electronics - BeijingZhongguancun electronic shopping market offers an incredible range of options to people interested in buying equipment ranging from MP3 players, mobile phones, cameras, computers and anything that hangs off them. For those who have shopped at Plantip Plaza in Bangkok you will find Plantip Plaza reduced to a mere convenience store in comparison to Zhongguancun. The market is enormous! The market is more like a series of large multi storey shopping centres in one compact area.

Electronics - BeijingNot only can you shop in the famous Ke Mao Da Shi (pictured below right), but you have options like PC Mall (above right) across the road, Zhongguancun e-Plaza (pictured at left), TOP Electronics City (bottom left) and the nearby Zhonghai Electronics Market, Silicon Valley Computer City. You will find that there are both old and new sections to this enormous ‘silicon valley’ area, but both house a range of products.

As you shop be sure to know your prices and the exact model you want to buy. Many shops will allow you to come back for free service and advice if you talk to them about this before buying, but this does not happen in all cases. Take your time in examining and testing products and discussing them. Electronics - BeijingBe willing to go away for further research before committing to any purchase. Word on the street has it that Silicon Valley Computer City actually offers lower prices than the other electronics shopping areas to compensate for it being a little further away.

This famous electronics shopping area can be found just south of the North Fourth Ring Road, south of Haidian District and south of Peking University. To access the market area by public transport take the subway to Wudaokou station or tell any taxi driver that you wish to go to Zhong Guan Cun, Ke Mao Dashi.


Electronics - Beijing

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Beijing Olympic Security

Xinhua News Agency reported recently that security has been further stiffened for this summer's Beijing Olympics.

Ma Zhenchuan, head of the city's Municipal Public Security Bureau, identified terror attacks as a possible threat and said Beijing had launched the "Action for a Safe Olympiad" program.

Beijing has been taking various measures to increase security for the summer games including setting up a computerized security information system, recruiting up to 2,000 top graduates in to the city police force and establishing a special Olympic security unit in the Chinese armed forces.

There will be about 40,000 regular police on duty in Beijing during the games and a special force of about 150 martial arts experts trained in counter-terrorism techniques.


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Monday, January 21, 2008

Beijing Winter Beauty

Beijing Winter StadiumWhile winter in Beijing can be colourless, dusty and dry the occasional snowfall, as happened on 17th January does brighten the environment. The National Stadium sprinkled with a typically light Beijing snowfall is one of the highlights at this time of year.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Horseracing back in China

Everyone knows the Chinese love a flutter and it seems legal gambling is set to make a comeback in China for the first time since 1949.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, the Orient Lucky City racecourse in Wuhan in central China will hold horse racing with legal betting from 2009.

It remains to be seen whether Beijing's Tongshun Jockey Club will stage races in the future.

Betting is legal in Hong Kong on horse racing and football, and also in Macau in casinos at on horse and greyhound races.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Lijiang Yunnan

丽江市

Lijiang is one of China's most popular holiday destinations and well worth a visit for its stunning Yangzi River scenery and to see the native Naxi people, still living a traditional life and famous for their ritual music.

Black Dragon Park, Lijiang Yunnan

The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is preserved by the government.

Naxi woman

images © Daniel Allen

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Olympic Training Camps in Japan

Around 20 nations have established pre-Olympic training camps in Japan.

Japan has excellent transport links with China and has only a one hour time difference with its larger neighbour.

Hokkaido will host a number of German track and field athletes as they go through their final tune-ups for the big event in Beijing. British swimmers will be based in Osaka, their German counterparts in Kumamoto, the French judo team will be based in Tenri, near Nara, and French and US canoeists in Komatsu in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Irish athletes will return to Matsue, where they held their warm-up camp for the 2007 Asian Games and the Finns return to Marugame in Kagawa. Sweden has 19 teams based in Kyushu's largest city, Fukuoka.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Olympic Food Tests & Food Security

According to a report in The Times of London newspaper, white mice will be used to test for food poisoning at this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.

The article quotes an official of the Beijing Municipal Health Inspection Bureau as saying that mice react to any poisoning within 17 hours, more quickly than usual testing methods involving bacterial cultures.

Food storage areas in the Beijing Olympic Village will be fitted with security cameras and alarms and Olympic kitchens guarded 24/7.

Food delivery trucks will be equipped with GPS to ensure they do not get lost and even vegetable boxes will have electronic chips recording place and date of cultivation and harvest.

Now that's high-tech!

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Harbin Ice Festival 2008

China now has a number of ice festivals to rival the internationally acclaimed Sapporo Snow Festival in nearby Japan.

There are ice and snow festivals in Shenyang in Liaoning Province and Harbin in Heilongjiang Province at this time of the year. In Harbin the amazing ice sculptures are illuminated at night and firework displays are part of the attraction.

images © Daniel Allen

Harbin Ice Festival
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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Olympic Marathon Beijing

The Beijing Olympic Committee has decided the Olympic marathons will commence from Tiananmen Square, though the actual route through the city has yet to be finalized.

Tiananmen Square Photograph © Russell Uebergang

Click on the image to enlarge it

Tiananmen Square copyright Russell Uebergang

Stefano Baldini, an Italian, won the 2004 Athens Olympic men's marathon in a time of 2:10:55; Mizuki Noguchi from Japan won the women's race in a time of 2:26:20.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

New Legation Quarter Beijing

American-born Chinese architect Handel Lee's new building in Beijing is the 15,000 square-meter New Legation Quarter project, located near to Tiananmen Square.

Previously the site of the American legation to the Qing Dynasty in the early 20th century, the New Legation development is due to open in March 2008, five months before Beijing's Summer Olympics. The redeveloped space will feature six new luxury Beijing restaurants, plus bars, cafes, galleries, stores and theaters.

New Legation Quarter Beijing

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