Winter Holiday – Christmas in Beijing

Beijing Trip 2007

We always planned to visit Beijing, but never had the opportunity. Finally, this Christmas, we had a Beijing trip (and before the 2008 Olympics too).

We arrived in Beijing at 4 PM with a heavy foggy sunset. Beijing has winter trees that look just like Christmas trees. The temperature was -3. I haven’t been to Northern China before so I had no idea what the cold weather felt. I quickly found out that it was really dry and cold and you could feel your hands becoming numb when not wearing gloves.

Our itinerary was: first day to Great Wall, second day to Summer Palace, third day to Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and maybe Heaven of Temple. We had very little time to visit these symbolic Beijing attractions.

Great Wall

Our original plan was to visit Mu Tian Yu instead of Ba Da Ling, but we decided that Ba Da Ling fitted better with our schedule. I was very surprised at how difficult the transport is in Beijing, even for a Chinese speaker. There are no directions or signs to show you how to get to popular destinations. From research on the internet we took the subway to Ji Shui Tang and then went to find the 919 bus. This simple task took a lot longer than it should as, upon leaving the station, there was no indication of where to find the bus. We headed in one direction chosen at random and came across seven 919 buses, each going in different directions. I wonder how foreigners will handle this!

Luckily for us we had a beautiful clear day with blue sky and sunshine. The Wall itself was full of tourists, as expected, but we chose to walk in the opposite direction to the crowds. The walk is very tough and steep, and it is really breath-taking to see how long the wall is and how magnificent it looks. Every step reminded me of old stories about the wall’s builders.

We walked one hour on the Great Wall before returning to Beijing to see the Yong He Gong Temple.

Summer Palace

We took bus 690 from Ji Shui Tang subway station (again, no directions) to the Summer Palace, which took the better part of an hour. The Palace is enormous and everything looks so amazing. A lake at the front of the Palace was frozen, and we even saw people trying to walk across (I was too scared to try). There are many gardens, temples, and buildings, and I felt like I was one of the ladies in the traditional story ‘Hong Lou Meng’ (The Dream of the Red Chamber). It’s hard to believe that all the marvellous gardens and craftsmanship was only to honour the birthday of Ci Xi, the mother of Emperor Qianlong’s (Qing Dynasty).

Later in the afternoon we returned to Beijing and spent the rest of the day around Hou Hai Lake, which seems to be a popular area for pubs.

Forbidden City

Christmas day was spent in the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. There were thousands of tourists in the Forbidden City, most of them were following tour groups. Unfortunately a lot of the larger buildings were being reconstructed and were covered in scaffolding, although with 9,999 rooms to pick from we had plenty of alternatives. One of the meanings of the number nine in Chinese is “forever” – maybe that’s the reason the Emperor had so many built!

Although the main paths were always full of tourists, it was easy to find more peaceful areas away from the crowds. Even though many rooms are not open it will still take you half a day to see everything. Afterwards we went to Tiananmen Square, but I was a little disappointed as it just looked like a giant car race track.


Beijing has so many attractions for tourists and you certainly need at least five days to see everything adequately. Even though the Olympics are arriving in Beijing in 2008 I feel like there are still many improvements needed. In particular the transportation is not convenient for tourists, and more signs are needed in both English and Chinese.

Tourists may also be dissuaded by the amount of attention given by people wanting you to hire rickshaws, buy tourist products, and go on private tours. While this is expected in such a popular area, the people in Beijing didn’t seem to take no for an answer and would literally follow you down the street.

On a personal note I found the amount of spitting that the locals do very unpleasant. Although this is a popular ‘activity’ in China, and certainly exists in Guangzhou, it seemed much much worse in Beijing.

I feel really proud to be Chinese, and we have lots of historical stories based in Beijing. I wish scientists could invent a time machine so we can travel back in time to see the ancient worlds of these stories – how fascinating that would be! Our short journey to Beijing was full of surprises and smiles, and made for a lovely Christmas holiday



我们已打算住在西城区就鼓楼大街,那里因很多胡同和旧建筑出名, 交通也十分便利。我们已经决定好这几天的行程,第一天去长城,第二天去颐和园,第三天去故宫和天安门广场或者天坛。因我们时间有限,只能去这几个代表北京必游的名胜古迹!


作为首都的北京,去长城的交通还这么困难。听说慕田峪是最好攀登长城的地方,但问了当地人都因没人知道怎么去,我们只好去八达岭了。坐地铁去积水潭站, 然后去搭919快车, 一路没有任何指示牌或便利的交通指导,919找了半天,原来在车站的最后面,前面很多也叫919的路线,干吗不取个容易分辨得巴士号码呢。我能说中文都找了半天,甭提外国人能自己搭去八达岭了,没有任何路牌是英文的。终于到了八达岭,幸好天公作美,天特蓝,还能在山上看到很多积雪的踪迹。大多数旅行团都爬右边的长城,一路看上去都是密密麻麻的人,但我们选择了左边,人丁稀少,最好不过了,大家都应该觉得右边多点东西看吧,我想长城哪边都一样的。哎呀,每个石阶都又高又陡,很难爬,在长城上看连绵起伏的长城真觉得壮观和雄伟!我站的这些石阶,每个都应该有它背后故事。我们走了一个小时太累了,回到市区,去参观了雍和宫


我们在找去八达岭的时候,偶然在路上看到了690的公交可以到颐和园(又没有任何指示牌或标记说明)。到了颐和园, 园子好大好宽广;湖水冷得都结冰了,看见很多人都站在湖上玩冰。颐和园真是太漂亮了,处处都是园林和庭院,让我禁不住幻想自己是红楼梦中的林妹妹,因我太爱1987版的红楼梦了。尽感叹原来颐和园是清朝乾隆给慈禧太后的生日礼物。晚上我们去参观了蛮出名的后海酒吧街。


圣诞这个特别的日子我们选择在故宫和天安门度过。这么雄伟的故宫有2, 3500,000 平方米,共有9,999个宫殿。据说9在中文是永久的意思,帝王们都想长生不老吧。成千上万的游者去游玩故宫,因他们是走马观花式,导游只带他们游览主要的宫殿,我们就避开人群,参观了很多小型宫殿;可惜2个最大的宫殿在重新粉刷。故宫真的太大了,可能要半天或一天才能看了完,其实里面还有很多宫殿都是封起来的,不开放。但你有很多宫殿可以参观。然后我们去了天安门广场,晚上去看了下王府井(想北京路一样)然后隔天就飞回广州了.

总体来说,北京有太多名胜古迹了和古代的园林建筑. 在北京5天是绝对不够的. 当然希望在不同的季节再去一趟北京. 作为首都还是奥林匹克的主办地方,我想北京在旅游业还是有很多地方可以改进的. 比如去各大旅游景点应该有清晰的指示牌或标志,甚至中英文应该是有的. 要有为旅客准备交通巴士去各最著名的景点. (听说有,不过怕给人坑)难怪怎么多人跟旅游包车, 因太浪费时间自己找路了. 当地人不要看见外国人就老去缠人家要不要导游或坐三轮车,人家一次说不要了,就不要死缠着人家不放. 对旅游者心情有多不好影响啊,给人家的印象也不好! 都应该有一个规范的制度, 不然谁都不想去北京旅游. 还有,最让人不能忍受的是, 大家都随地吐痰. 北京这么文明的城市,吐痰现象比任何个城市还严重. 卫生局应该大力加强大家的卫生概念.

去了趟北京,让我觉得自豪自己是个龙的传人. 几千年的历史文明有数不尽的史记. 我真想科学家能发明时空机, 让我回去体验古时候人们的生活. 我们短途的圣诞之旅给我们很多笑容和惊喜. 虽我还没有看到京剧和天坛, 还有没有看到下雪, 但希望下次能再光临北京.

2 thoughts on “Winter Holiday – Christmas in Beijing

  1. CARMEN,看到你的北京之旅,嘿嘿真的很不错哦!没想到你英文写得好外,中文也写得很好啊,真不愧是我的姐妹,真感到骄傲!

    It was pleasant to read your Beijing trip. Not only you can write English well, but also your chinese is very good. I am pround of being your cousin.

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