Beijing ~ China Travel Pictures
City of Beijing Start of China tour
Beijing is the international arrival point for millions of travellers to China each year, as well as a popular destination for domestic tourism. Chinese Holidays like Mid Autumn Moon Festival (September, October), Chinese New Year (January, February) and China National Day (October 1) are super busy travel times.
Beijing streets and traffic day:
Traffic in Beijing is very heavy starting just before dawn, and remains that way into mid-evening.
These roads span others in a basket weave pattern, one level over another. These elevated highways are increasingly common in China's larger cities. Probably best to cab it everywhere.
For those of you who are more adventurous, take the subway. Starbucks are steadily springing up so Westerners can easily get their fix of good coffee.
Homesick for pizza? No problem. There are A&Ws and KFCs, among others, catering mainly to Westerners.
Many Chinese find fast food greasy and not to their taste, I was told by more than one person.
Nighttime Beijing Street Traffic - China travel
This photo shows the same scene as above, but at night, with rope lights outlining the routes.
For a moment, I thought I might be in Hong Kong, which glitters with neon and brightly-lit small shops that stay open after midnight.
On an earlier trip to Beijing, the nigh-time streets were gloomy. The high rises that were lit at all showed the blue glow of fluorescent lighting. From a distance, the city looked deserted.
Now, post-Olympics, Beijing streets are showing a bit of glitter, too
So, too, was the Badaling Expressway smartened up with large mural sized posters of flowers and scenes of the Great Wall of China lining the route north.
These murals were pretty to look at and they also kept the traffic driving past from seeing the unsightly shanty towns beside and below the expressway.
Beijing China Traffic - Another View Near Third Ring Road
Beijing China is notorious for heavy traffic and pollution, but in the last few years, some of the worst of the offending vehicles -- like the little yellow minvans -- have been banned.
Pedestrians, and carts of all sizes pulled by man or beast, and cyclists filled the shoulder lanes of the freeway from the airport into the city.
I understand that freeway access is now restricted to motor vehicles, which is much safer for all.
And More Beijing Traffic Near Third Ring Road
Another view of the Beijing city traffic. Thousands of cyclists join the fray at rush hours, especially near the subway stations.
Cyclists commute to the subway, where they leave the bikes while they continue the commute by train.
How would they ever find their own bike on their return?
I asked my guide. She confessed that, as she personally kept forgetting where she had parked her bike, she gave up cycling and now takes a cab instead.
Vendors Outside the Forbidden City Beijing China
There are dozens of hawkers and vendors outside the Forbidden City, and they are most persistent, pestering you in several languages (English, Swedish, German and more).
They flog postcards, Chairman Mao lighters, Mao caps, Mao's Little Red Book, CDs -- anything they can think of.
The same scenario occurs everywhere tourists congregate in large numbers.
Having said that, the roasted sweet potatoes (cart, lower right) are a good buy.
They are inexpensive, tasty and nutritious, and make great 'hand warmers' on cold days.
Tiananmen Square Beijing China Historic Landmark
At Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, these paving tiles shown in this photo have been replaced with new ones.
Visitors had apparently been devoting a portion of their visit here looking for 'artefacts' from student protests.
Tiananmen means Gate of Heavenly Peace, a symbol of China's openness to the world.
The massive stone gate was built in 1427 and restored in 1651, which is when the Square (the world's largest public square) was added.
In 1958, the square was expanded to its present 100-acre size. One day, there were 10,000 tai chi practitioners evenly spaced over its entire expanse and performing in concert -- an unforgettable sight.
Silk Market in Beijing China Good Shopping Op
There are several such 'Silk markets' in the city, offering a range of items.
One near the Third Ring Road had barrels of Beanie Babies one year, and fashionable velour scarves. This market was called the Silk Market, and located not far from Tiananmen Square.
Many stalls were selling counterfeit designer clothing and watches.
The authorities have said they intend to stop them, and media reports confirm action is being taken.
Some vendors sell the usual Made in China souvenirs -- silk cushion covers, table linens, plastic and glass 'pearls'.
I was advised to always offer half the asking price, and to assume that most items are fake. You can see the Burberry plaid bag at the left edge in this photo.
Beijing Acrobats Must See in China tour
The Acrobatic troupe members come from across China to practice these routines then perform in Beijing.
Some troupes tour the world, but how special to see them at their 'home' theatre.
At the time, the only refreshments for sale here were paper cups of popcorn and fruit drinks.
Beijing Zoo Panda A China Natural Wonder on its own
The Beijing Zoo is located on the site of the Ming Dynasty Imperial Manor.
This young panda came from his pen into the sunlight.
The zoo is a short cab ride west from Tiananmen Square, so its easy to fit in a short visit.
See my pictures from the Nanning Zoo in south China.
Beijing offers great nightlife and good internet access, great spa services, shopping at malls and markets for pearls, jade and cloisonne (artisans).