Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beijing Olympics Draws Near

Beichen QiaoLocal Tourists have Olympics in their sights

Tourists and residents alike are so keen to see Beijing’s famous Olympic venues that they are causing traffic snarls on the north Fourth Ring Road on Beichen Bridge.

Traffic creeps over the bridge as people stop to take photos of the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube both clearly to seen from this vantage point. Even with warning signs posted on and near the bridge people cannot resist the view and photo opportunity.

Each day hundreds of people stop their cars to capture the site. Police are now videotaping and fining motorists 200rmb if they stop on the bridge. With the bridge being the only opportunity for people to see these incredible Olympic sites one can’t help but feel some sympathy for the sightseers!

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ling Long Pagoda Beijing

ling-long-pagodaLing Long Pagoda

Beijing Visitors are probably all asking the same question when sightseeing around Olympic Park. What is the huge steel tower out in the middle of the Olympic Park?

Please contact us with your suggestions!


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Thursday, March 27, 2008

CCTV Tower Update

As Beijing enjoys a week of clear blue skies during March 2008 work continues to progress at speed on the CCTV Towers project just east of the 3rd Ring Road and north of Guo Mao area.

CCTV Tower, Beijing, China

Not only will the Towers hold the offices of CCTV but they will also house an upmarket hotel development.

CCTV Tower

See images of the CCTV Tower construction taken last month.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

One Planet One People One Universe

One Planet One People One Universe
On August 1, as Beijing is cast in shadow by a total eclipse of the sun, the planets of the solar system will descend to earth.

Nine inflatable globes, illuminated from within by multimedia projection technology, will form the centrepiece of the most ambitious public art installation an Olympic host city has ever seen.

Read more

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Images of Beijing

Enjoy this image of the National Stadium in Beijing (aka the Bird's Nest), which will stage the opening and closing 2008 Olympic ceremonies and the track and field events at this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

National Stadium, Beijing, China

The stadium, known as the "Bird's Nest" and designed by the avant-garde Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, will become the world's biggest enclosed space and is surely one of the world's most iconic buildings of the 21st century.

Beijing Visitor supplies top quality photographs for publication in magazines, newspapers or online.

Please contact us for a quote on our photography rates.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Lama Temple Revisited

雍和宮

The last time we were at the Lama Temple, the weather in Beijing was dire - cold with an unrelenting drizzle.

Lama Temple, Beijing

Now the spring weather in Beijing is perfect.

The Lama Temple (Yonghe Gong) is one of Beijing's most visited religious sites and still an important functioning Tibetan temple.

Lama Temple, Beijing

Don't miss the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Fortunes which houses the huge statue of Maitreya (the buddha of the future) carved from a single block of sandalwood. The statue was given to the Chinese Emperor Qianlong by the Tibetan Dalai Lama in 1750. The pavilion was built later to shelter the image.

Yonghe Gong
12 Yonghegong Dajie, Beixinqiao, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Tel: 6404 4499
Admission 25 yuan
Daily: 9am-5pm
Nearest subway station Yonghegong on the Circle Line

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Beijing Toilets

Reports in western media have highlighted efforts to introduce throne-style toilets in Beijing's Olympic venues in place of the traditional Asian-style squat toilet.

Western style toilets will be introduced at the National Indoor Stadium, the National Stadium (Bird's Nest), and the National Aquatics Center (Water Cube) in time for the arrival of athletes, media and Olympic organizers.


Western style toilet

Improvement to Beijing notoriously poor public toilets has been underway for some time with new star-rated toilets already installed at the Forbidden City, Great Wall and the Summer Palace. Beijing has presently over 5,000 public toilets around the city.

With increased prosperity, many Chinese now seem to prefer the western style toilet to its Asian counterpart, despite the fact that squatting is the healthiest way to completely evacuate the bowels and is known to prevent painful piles.

Visitors to Beijing should be prepared to bring along a packet of paper tissues as toilet paper is rarely available when using a traditional squat public toilet. Do not put the paper in the bowl but in the wastebasket nearby and do not expect any privacy. A small fee is charged for use.
Hutong public toilets, basically cesspits which are sucked out by truck each week, are only for the brave, especially in summer.
If caught short, head for fast food outlets, hotels or shopping malls. The sign for men is 男; women 女.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum上海博物館

Located in Shanghai's People's Park, the Shanghai Museum is well worth an afternoon. Devoted to ancient Chinese art, it also has wonderful exhibits of regional art and artifacts.

The permanent collection consists of ancient chinese bronzes, sculpture, ceramics, jades, paintings, calligraphy, seals, stamps, furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties, and a large selection of crafts by ethnic "minorities" (i.e., non-Han).

Perhaps the most interesting exhibits are of the the clothing and goods related to the many non-Han peoples who still live in China. From clothing to tools, handicrafts to boats, the well-laid out exhibit is a splash of color.

There is very little English explanation, beyond what the item is and where it is from. The Museum though has worked hard to display the items in well-lit, elegant spaces.

Access

Walking distance from Renmin Guangchang subway station. People's Park is quite centrally located, and it is possible to walk from the Bund (about 25 minutes).

The Museum is open from 9 am - 17 pm. Admission was 20 Yuan ($2.80) during an early March visit. The Musuem's web site is now advertising that, as of March 10, admission is free.

Shanghai Museum, No. 201 Renmin Avenue, Shanghai, China, 200003
Tel.: (021) 63725300-132, or hot-line (021) 96968686

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nanjing Dong Lu Shanghai

Night scene Shanghai上海南京路

Nanjing Dong Lu is a slightly tacky boulevard that runs from People's Park to the Bund. In the area near the Central Henan Road metro station it is a pedestrian mall, which is a relief from having to cross Shanghai streets.

The street's most famous landmark is Victor Sassoon's Peace Hotel, which is almost to the Bund and currently undergoing renovations.

Other establishments are not nearly as elegant. More typical is the store pictured bottom left. You can get trinkets and cheap gifts for those back home.

A better shopping option is the large Shanghai #1 Department Store, which is catty-corner to People's Park.

A more interesting shopping option is nearby Fuzhou Road, which has small boutiques.

Then , there is the Bund itself for high-end goods.

Access

If you are on the Bund, Nanjing Dong Lu runs into it at the corner where the Peace Hotel is located. If you are coming from other areas, Central Henan Road is the closest metro stop. Exit 3 brings you onto the pedestrian mall.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sophia Vari Exhibition Confucius Temple

As part of the Cultural Year of Greece in China 2007 – 2008 some of the sculptural works and paintings of Sophia Vari are on exhibition in the Confucius Temple grounds from 15th March to 20th April, 2008.

Sophia Vari Exhibition Confucius Temple

The exhibit itself is stunning, with vivid colors and flowing, sensual shapes offering conflict and harmony in the grounds of the Confucius Temple. The colours of these imposing painted bronze sculptures contrast with the traditional reds and blacks of the temple, while the smooth lines harmonize with the lines of the moat surrounding the central temple hall of the Imperial College.

Sophia Vari Exhibition Confucius Temple

As you gaze at her work in the surrounds of the Confucius Temple and contemplate sport in this Olympic city of Beijing, it is not hard to imagine how Sophia Vari may have been inspired by ancient Greek sculptors, whose work includes those of sportsmen and women of those times.

Sophia Vari Exhibition Confucius Temple

Reflecting on the centuries old history of both China and Greece makes one see many parallels between these two Olympic countries. The history of empires past and how to maintain these histories must surely give both China and Greece much to talk about in the fields of the arts, sport and preservation of historical relics for years to come.

Sophia Vari Exhibition Confucius Temple, Beijing

Visit the Sophia Vari Exhibition at the Confucius Temple, 13 Guozijian Jie, Dongcheng District 孔庙国子监 6532-4513

Sophia Vari Exhibition, Beijing

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Water Cube Beijing

Beijing's National Aquatics Center (Water Cube) is now open and staging competitions in the run up to this summer's Olympic Games.

Water Cube

The stunning, futuristic interior can be seen in these images.

Water Cube

Olympic souvenirs are popular items in the Water Cube's shop. The National Aquatics Center has three pools and will stage the Olympic swimming, synchronized swimming and diving events this summer.


Water Cube


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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pudong International Airport Shanghai

Pudong International Airport上海浦東國際機場

Shanghai's Pudong International Airport is one of Asia's largest and busiest airports with some 17 million flights in 2006.

The airport was built with a $400 million grant from the government of Japan and opened in 1999.

It has flights to cities around the world.

A second terminal is currently under construction and is set to open prior to the Beijing Olympic Games, in August.

Pudong International replaced Hongqiao International Airport as Shanghai's main airport for overseas flights. The latter, which could not expand any further, is now used primarily for flights within China.
Because of the tremendous growth of the Chinese economy, Pudong has seen large rises in the numbers of passengers. It may in the near future have more traffic than similar airports in the region, such as Tokyo's Narita and Seoul's Incheon.
Shopping is a bit limited at Pudong. In the center of the terminal is a row of enclosed shops with the standard duty-free options.
Access

From central Shanghai, take Line 2 of the Metro to Long Yang Road Station. There you can take the Maglev airport express to the airport terminal.


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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Flag of China

五星红旗

The present flag of China is called the "Five-Starred Red Flag."

The Chinese flag consists of a red background with five, five-pointed bright yellow stars in the top left corner. The larger star is flanked by four smaller ones.

Flag of China

There are various explanations as to the symbolism of the colors and motif. The red field is said to symbolize the revolution and yellow color of the stars represents China's history. The colors also owe much to the flag of the Soviet Union in 1949.

The larger star denotes the Chinese Communist Party and the four smaller stars four classes of Chinese society united under communism by Mao: peasants, workers, bourgeois, and capitalists with communist sympathies.

The flag was designed by Zeng Liansong, chosen from 3,000 designs submitted after the communists came to power in 1949.

Zeng Liansong's design for the Chinese flag was adopted in September 1949 and first flown in Tiananmen Square on the founding of the People's Republic of China on 1 October, 1949.

Nowadays the flag can be seen on public buildings, schools and stadiums throughout China and will be a common sight at this summer's Olympic Games.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Images of Beijing Airport Terminal 3

The opening of the new Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3 building has created a buzz ahead of this summer's Olympic showpiece in China's capital.

Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3

As every part of Beijing's new infrastructure jigsaw falls in to place there is a sense of increased anticipation that the 2008 Olympic Games will be something special.

Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3

Beijingers are even heading out to marvel at the new airport at the weekends or on days off work.

Beijing Airport Terminal 3

Enjoy these latest images of Sir Norman Foster's wonderful creation.

Beijing Airport Terminal 3

Images of Beijing © Russell Uebergang


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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Olympic Badminton Olympic Table Tennis

Outdoor track and field events at the Beijing Olympics will take place at the gigantic National Stadium aka the Bird's Nest.

Indoor events such as table tennis, badminton and wrestling (sports which hosts China are expected to excel at) will be staged at a number of sports halls and gymnasiums around the capital.

Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium

The National Indoor Stadium located in the Olympic Green is nearing completion and will stage the artistic gymnastics, trampoline and handball events.

The other venues are located on the campuses of some of Beijing's most prestigious universities.

China Agricultural University Gymnasium hosts the wrestling tournament, the 7,500-capacity Peking University Gymnasium will stage the table tennis. The Olympic judo and taekwondo competitions are to be held at the Beijing Science and Technology University Gymnasium, while the badminton and rhythmic gymnastics events are staged at Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

French Concession Shanghai

Shanghai phone上海仏租界

Most of urban China has already been or is slated soon for a date with the wrecking ball. Shanghai is no different; if anything, it may be worse.

Two exceptions to the rule, however, are left: the Bund and the French Concession area. The former is the magnificent riverfront promenade, the latter is a leafy area that was designated for the French following the First Opium War. (The US and UK also were granted areas in which to live, but both are long gone. The US and UK areas joined in 1863 and created the International Settlement; the French maintained their own, separate Settlement.)

The French Concession area is bisected by Huaihai Road, which is a large shopping street—and not of much historical interest. Close by though are smaller, tree-lined streets that feature quite a few mansions left over from the period.

A great stroll is down Fuxing Xi Lu. In addition to the buildings noted below, the area also has many boutiques and cafes.

Interesting buildings along or near Fuxing Xi Lu include the following:

Willow Apartment House, No. 34 Fuxing Xi Lu. This art deco structure was built in 1934.

The Cloister, No. 63 Fuxing Xi Lu. Owned by a British merchant, this building looks like a Spanish villa.

Rose Villa, No. 1-7 Lane 44, Fuxing Xi Li. This apartment was constructed in the 1930s.

Garden House, No. 140 Fuxing Xi Lu. Built in 1928, it brings to mind a British country villa.

Old English Country Garden House, No. 193 Fuxing Xi Lu. The is 1930 home has a beautifully gabled roof and massive red brick chimney.

Garden Villa, No. 1 Lane 117, Wukang Lu.

Le Passage, No. 299 Fuxing Xi Lu. Restored in 2003, it is now a store.

French Concession Area, ShanghaiNearby is the Xintiandi area, which can be reached easily from the Huangpi Nanlu stop. There are a few traces of Shanghai of old here; mainly, though, it is a trendy shopping and partying area for young people of means.

Access

Metro Line 1 runs along Huaihai and Hengshan Roads. Shan Xi Nan Lu Station is the most convenient stop.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Shanghai Maglev Train

Maglev speed上海磁浮示范运营线

The world's fastest train with passenger service is not France's TGV or the Japanese Bullet Train, Germany's high speed service or Taiwan's new ultra-fast lines. It is the maglev train from Shanghai's Pudong International Airport into Longyan Road, in Pudong, where you can transfer to a subway line that will take you farther into the city center.

The airport express train covers 30 km (18.6 miles) in under 8 minutes at speeds that hit 431 km/hour (268 mph). The ride is so brief, however, that the train only stays at the top speed for a very short amount of time before beginning to slow down prior to arrival.

The system cost more than one billion USD to build and began operation in 2004. Plans are afoot to extend the line to Shanghai's other airport, Hongquio International Airport, and to the area of the city where Expo 2010 will be held.

Trains that have maglev technology use electromagnetic force to guide and move cars forward. Problems with cost and safety notwithstanding, it is technologically possible for these trains to run at speeds comparable to passenger jets.

The system in Shanghai uses German technology.

Shanghai MaglevFare and Schedule Information

A one-way trip costs 50 Chinese yuan. VIP seats go for 100.
Trains run every 15 minutes from 6:45 am to 9:30 pm.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Beijing Olympic Athletes Village

The Beijing Olympic Village, known as "Dream World" is nearing completion.

The eco-friendly complex will house 16,000 athletes for this summer's Olympic Games. Complete with a 5,000-seat cafeteria and solar-powered showers the Olympic Village also has a prayer center to accommodate the various religious faiths of the 2008 Olympians.

The six and nine floor apartments will become luxury condominiums after the Games and already all have been sold to open in 2009. The Beijing Olympic Village is near to the main Olympic venues such as the National Stadium and the National Aquatics Center.

Construction began in 2005 and will be completed on time. Prior residents have been relocated to alternative accommodation.

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Yu Garden Shanghai

Yu Garden, Shanghai豫園

Yu Garden (also known as Yuyuan Garden) is Shanghai's best known public garden. It was completed in 1577 by Pan Yunduan, a government official during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Like Shanghai, the garden has seen its fortunes wax and wan. With the decline of the Pan family, the garden and grounds became run down in the late Ming period. It was purchased in 1760 by local merchants who spent decades refurbishing it.

During the Opium War, the Garden was badly damaged by French forces in the 1840s. The current Garden was most recently restored in the 1950s.

Yu Garden, ShanghaiYu Garden is roughly five acres. In contains many pavilions, ponds, and temple-like structures. It is packed with tourists--but worth the trip.

You enter via a bazaar from Fuyou Road. The bazaar is narrow and teeming with tourists and locals. It is filled with shops selling trinkets and food. Pickpockets are rumored to frequent the area.

During our visit, in early March, the many plum trees were in bloom. Tourists from Japan and Germany were well represented.

Access

218 Anren Lu
021/6326-0830

Admission Fee: CNY 40
Opening Hours: 8:30 to 17:00
Subway Stop: Huanpi Road on Line 1, about 15 minutes on foot; or roughly the same distance from the Bund.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Bund Shanghai

Bund, Shanghai上海灘
Shanghai's Bund is the riverfront promenade that evokes the pre-War glamor of the past and the vitality and modernism of the present. At right is the famous clock tower that sits atop the former HSBC bank building. Flapping in the night wind in front of it is the red flag of the People's Republic.

The area still retains a slightly colonial feel thanks to the many art-deco buildings. Most of them are now filled with high-end tenants selling brand goods most Shanghai natives could never dream of affording. Victor Sassoon's Peace Hotel is currently being renovated.

Across the Huangpu River, modern Shanghai has reared its head. The Oriental Pearl Tower is now the city's most distinct landmark. At night, it is lit in garish reds and greens and blues. By day, it hovers in the haze generated by thousands of factories and building sites.

Access from one side of the river to the other is relatively painless. You can take the subway one stop from Central Henan (Henanzhong) Road Station to Lujiazui Station. Or, in a slightly surreal option, the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel presents itself. The tunnel begins in an underground passageway close to the Peace Hotel. The passageway takes you from one side of the street to the to the other.

Then, you proceed to walk under the river. Literally.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Beijing Capital Airport Navigation

Beijing Airport Terminal 3As with the opening of any new airport travelers would be well advised to allow extra time to find their way around when using the new Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3 building.

Airlines using Terminal 3 beginning 29th February, 2008
Gate 2
Qantas Airways
British Airways
El Al Israel Airlines

Gate 6
Qatar Airways

Gate 12
Shandong Airlines
Sichuan Airlines

Airlines using Terminal 3 beginning 26th March, 2008
Gate 2
Japan Airlines
S7 Airlines
Air Macau

Gate 4
Cathay Pacific Airways
Dragonair
Finnair
Austrian Airlines
Emirates
United Airlines

Gate 6
Asiana Airlines
Egypt Air
All Nippon Airways
Thai Airways
Scandinavian Airlines
Turkish Airlines
Air China (International Flights)
Air Canada
Lufthansa
Singapore Airlines

Gate 8
Air China (International flights)

Gate 10
Air China (Domestic flights)

Gate 12
Air China (Domestic flights)
Shanghai Airlines
All Beijing – Shanghai (Hongqiao Airport) flights

Terminal 1 (From March 26th, 2008)
Domestic flights
China Southern
Xiamen Airlines

Terminal 2 (From March 26th, 2008)
China Eastern
Hainan Airlines
Skyteam members
China Southern (International flights)

Using Terminal 3
Check in desks for domestic flights close 45 minutes before take-off time
Check in desks for international flights close 1 hour before take-off time

Customs for departing passengers
It will not be mandatory to complete customs declarations.
If international passengers need to declare goods they should go to the Customs Declaration Desk in front of check in areas D and E before checking their baggage to their flights.

International passengers clear check-in
Once checked in international passengers must go to Immigration and Security checks. Be sure to board an Automatic People Mover (small train) linking the check in area with the international boarding area.
Once off the APM go through quarantine, immigration, security and customs checks.

In the wrong terminal?
Free shuttle buses travel between the three terminals every 7 minutes.

Driving to Terminal 3
Take exit 6 off the Airport Expressway
Exit 6 is called Airport Southern Line
An inter-terminal road will also take traffic from Terminals 1 and 2 to the new Terminal 3.

Picking up passengers from Terminal 3
There are three exits from the Baggage Claim Hall
Gate B – International arrivals
Gates A and C – Domestic arrivals
Panels above the gates display flight information

Airport Buses from Bejing to Terminal 3
Catch the airport bus from Beijing Railway Station, Xidan, Gongzhufen, Fangzhuang, Zhongguancun and Wangjing.

Hotels in Beijing

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Beijing Rainbow Hotel

The completely refurbished 318-room, 3-star Rainbow Hotel near the Temple of Heaven Park, south of Tiananmen Square is now a pleasant and economical place to stay in Beijing.

Rainbow Hotel, Beijing, China

Although some distance from a subway station, taxi or the hotel's own rental bicycles can easily get you to the nearest underground stations either Hepingmen on the Circle Line or Tiantandongmen on the new Line 5.

Facilities include internet access in all the spacious rooms, a business center, travel counter, restaurant, massage and souvenir shops.

A reasonable buffet breakfast is included in the price of a room.


Beijing Rainbow Hotel
11, Xijing Road
Xuandu District
100050
Tel: 6301 2266
Fax: 6301 1366

Beijing Rainbow Hotel

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