Tag Archives: Beijing

Beijing Snapshots – Xin Ao Shopping Center and Around

Xin Ao Shopping Center

If you are in the area of the Beijing Olympic village you may want to visit the Xin Ao Shopping Center.  The area is a good place to go walking and get some city sightseeing exercise.  The shopping mall is actually sort of hidden under an artificial lake.  The address is No.9 Hujing East Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing.

The shopping mall also includes some very good restaurants.  I ate in the Yunan Food restaurant (Yun Nan Cai) — worth the visit.

How do you get to the mall?  You can take the number 8 metro – the metro station exits right in the shopping mall – very convenient.   Parking is available on the near by surface streets. 

In the evening while walking around I took some photos and then took some from my hotel room – I stayed at the near by Intercontinental BeiChen hotel.

The area outside of the mall is very lively in the evening – you can encounter people dancing, singing…all sort of group activities.  Great people watching overall….

China, Beijing, Xin Ao Shopping Area China, Beijing, Xin Ao Shopping Area China, Beijing, Xin Ao Shopping Area China, Beijing, Xin Ao Shopping Area China, Beijing, Xin Ao Shopping Area




Cost of Living in China and Inconspicuous Consumption

To continue from my previous posting, China (as you probably know by now) has become an economic power – which by itself is a great achievement (given its humble situation in the late 1980s) but one which has come at a great price – heavy pollution – which is visible in the big cities like Beijing more and more frequently – as the pictures below are showing you – the haze is almost omnipresent most of the time in the city…

Hazy-Beijing Beijing-China-May-2016 China-Pollution I think these photos from recent days in Beijing speak for themselves – May in the city – I wish the situation was different.  But then one would ask – what is the cause for this ?  Well – here comes the increasing wealth of the city dweller in China – and with that wealth comes the rapid growth of vehicles….

Which then brings me to another topic for today’s posting – the inconspicuous consumption.  What made me thing about it in the context of China?  These two photos did:

Hangzhou-pink-mazzeratiA pink Mazzerati “proudly” parked at the entrance of a hotel in Hangzhou – color and place all screaming – “see me, see me now!!!

And just so you do not think that this Mazzerati was the only “see me now” vehicle, take a look at the photo below – this one taken a few days ago, in Pudong, Shanghai: Don’t you love the pink car…

Shanghai-Pink-Audi I post these pictures as a decade or so ago, the mere ownership of cars was the coveted and standout situation.  Then came the fancy Lamborgini and Ferrari vehicles…but today for the raising and looking to differentiate middle class those may be out of reach – but a pink car is certainly well in the reach of many – as just those two photos taken 2 days apart can attest…

So, smog and pink cars…the price of progress…!




Beijing Pollution – Not Getting Better

Greetings!   For all of you who need information on the weather and air quality in China and especially Beijing, here is an update – I was in Beijing this week – until earlier today.  Over the years I have spent a considerable amount of time – including 2 long term periods of living in the city as an expat.  The air quality has become an increasingly hot topic (in a negative way) and one of concern to a huge number of local residents and visitors from within China and abroad.

The city government has been trying (for years) to improve the situation.  Tons of measures have been taken:

  • Moving coal burning industries away from the city
  • Restricting the usage of bad quality coal for domestic purposes (although I still see the tricycles with stacks of coal being carted around the neighborhoods in the winter)
  • Heavily regulating the usages of cars – no cars from outside the city are allowed further inward in the city beyond the 3rd loop road;   The usage of motorcycles is also extremely restrictive
  • Cars with odd and even plates drive on different days of the week
  • and so on and so forth….

The results however, are NOT great.   Here are the snapshots of today’s / current (as I write) Beijing weather:

Beijing-Pollution-Readings                               Pollution-Readings-Imcl-Austin

And then – there are the photos from my window and photos taken from Hangzhou on Monday:

China-Pollution Beijing Smog

So for all of you doubters – is China really that polluted – the answer is – “We do not know…” but it is most likely bad.

Hangzhou, by the way – which used to be incredibly nice to visit and less polluted, not has similar problems  Here is a photo from Monday of this week….

China-PollutionAll in all it is a scary situation.  The reality is that the city has been under the watch for a awhile

I see a number of photos in my collection that reflect the slipping situation in the City.

Long story, short, be careful to research your destination and put it in perspective and comparable readings/assessment of the likes published by AirVisual (one of many applications reporting the air quality around various global locations)


None of this listed above is something new for those who have a lot of travel or living experience in China.  I have done multiple updates over the years on the pollution situation in Beijing and China.  You can see it in a 2015 posting, then again in a 2014 one, and earlier in a 2013 posting, then several in 2007 (here and here, and yet another here);

Having said all this (above)  a trip and visit to China is still an awesome idea.   Just make sure to be well informed and well prepared.   Happy Travels!

Beijing – Winter Olympics 2022 – Incredible

China-Beijing Something unexpected and really strange happened in the last couple of days – Beijing was selected as the host for the 2022 Winter Olympics Games!!! Isn’t that incredible…?  Why would I say that – well – very simple:  Beijing and its surrounding areas are NOT a winter wonderland!

Beijing is for sure a very dynamic, interesting, sports oriented and full of energy city.  BUT – that does not make it a good candidate for a Winter Olympics host.

The place is bone dry in the winter – cold and dry.  Usually, in the hotels you have to request a humidifier to ensure you get some help with the climate to help the skin on your body and make your stay more comfortable.

Now think how can such environment be conducive to winter and snow and ice dependent sports….?   The only answer is man-made snow !   But that is very water and energy dependent – and both of those are in relative short supply in the capital ….!

So I fully expect that the local government will mobilize an army of people to both clean up the city as well as man machines to generate snow.  If a country can pull off such a challenge – China is your choice – a society focused on the state’s success and good position in the global view.

I certainly hope the games are successful and snow abundant – I just wonder how was the choice made and was it purely investment dollars (RMB) driven with nature, natural resources, clean air – all being secondary and tertiary…!   Oh, well….!

China-Beijing-Skyline   Beijing-China

Taxi in Beijing

Getting a taxi in Beijing could be quite a hassle.  Yes, I agree, the notion sounds weird…Why would you have trouble getting a cab in a big city anywhere in the world?  Well, Beijing is sort of unique.  You could spend a number of long cold hours on the street anywhere in Beijing while trying to get a ride.  In my experience, comparing all the way back to the late 1980s, the situation has become progressively worse up to today when you may be able to get a cab from your hotel or by calling one ahead of time to your appartment / house, but then your attempts to get one for the return ride while on the street could be incredibly frustrating.  

So, in case you are trying to figure out how to manage this situation, here are some useful tips:

  • If you live in Beijing or spending a significant / long period of time in Beijing, develop a relationship with a local taxi company / taxi drivers.  Get their business card and call ahead for service;
  • Make sure you have a card with your destination written in good legible Chinese (the taxi drivers are always afraid to pick up a foreigner as they may not be able to understand what they are being asked to do)
  • Plan you trip into the city to make sure you do not have a need to take a cab for a very short distance — the drivers will just refuse; Same thing applies if you are going to a location which is out of the cab driver's routine…
  • Many of the cab drivers have very poor knowledge of the city — they are recent migrants to Beijing and as such may not be able to assist you; Have instruction on how to find your destination;
  • Plan your trip into the city in a way that allows you to look for a cab near big Western hotels — you are more likely to get service there

Having listed all this there are some good alternatives to having to deal with inconsiderate taxi drivers.   Here is my list on the alternatives:

  • Consider renting a car – whether for a weekend or for a year (if living in Beijing) — go ahead and take the Chinese drivers license test and get a car.  You will enjoy the independence!
  • If you in for a short visit – consider chosing a hotel which is near a subway stop or a public bus stop.  You will get much more done if you could leverage these public transport options
  • Consider renting or buying a bicycle.

Beijing Traffic  storming the taxi


Bird’s Eye View of Beijing

Yes, I decided to post some bird's eye view images of Beijing.  The photos below were taken at several vantage points in Beijing – mostly from the top of Jing Shan Park – right behind the Forbidden City.  Overall, a nice place to see Beijing from, of course on a relatively clear day.


Beijing Views

Beijing View

View of the Forbidden City - Beijing



Photo Pages Being Updated

Continuing Updates on My Photo Pages – Beijing Photo Album

Photo pages offer and will continue to offer a glimpse into life, art, interesting places in various corners of the world my work and travels bring me to.  As I had stated earlier –  I plan to keep adding photo albums of interesting places to this blog.  Over the last 5-6 years I have accumulated tons of photos and the blog here will be a beneficiary of that library.

In the last week I have added new photos from Beijing — with the latest one being a description and photo gallery of the Lama Temple in Beijing — a beautiful site to visit.


Here is the link to the photo libraries on Beijing (or you can reach the same page from the pull down menu under Photo Albums).   Enjoy!

How About a Pictorial from Life on the Streets of Beijing

I know that there are more and more photo albums out there – both professional and amateur sources generating tons of nice photos of the usual tourist attractions of historic and cosmopolitan Beijing, so I decided to put together something different. A Photo Album about everyday life in Beijing. I walk the streets of the city often enough, in different seasons to capture moments from the daily activities of its citizens. So may be this will be something interesting to you too.
I also need to look into my old photo albums (the old = actual printed photos) from the late 1980s (when I was a foreign student in Beijing and Shanghai) and create also an album from those days. So stay tuned. I will certainly create one.

Now, back to the photos from the 21st century Beijing. Enjoy!

Experimenting with GoGoBot – Decided to add a Widget from that Travel Portal

Hi folks, so I decided to add a new widget — if it works well, I will add more — there are certainly plenty of gogobot Widget I have uploaded to my account there already.  So here is the first one

Let me know what you think….

“Cheaper cars for officials” – says People’s Daily On-Line — But is it REALLY?!?!

All of you who have spent any prolonged time in China, especially in Beijing, know that the Audi-A6 is the proverbial mighty party / government / military / police official vehicle. Why? No one really knows…But you won't be wrong if you were to see a black Audi approaching and you guessed it is an official's vehicle…. Why is this then important to write about? After all – every old China hand knows this….! Well, the reason is a new article in the November 20th issue of People's Daily Online — Cheaper Cars for Officials

According to the article gov't officials from now on wll be allowed to spend only 180K RMB for a vehicle (which by the way is not to exceed 1.8L engine size).   The article continues to state that until now the price limit was apparently 200K RMB !!!!

Well, I guess, judging by the number of black Audi A6 limousines prowling the neighborhoods of Beijing (and other cities) — many officials DID NOT get the previous memo — the one that asked them not to spend more than 200K RMB

Last I knew a Audi-A6 (not to speak of a Mercedez-Bench S Class or E-class) cost in the range of US$40K-$45K in China — i.e. well above the 200K RMB limit…..

Go figure — like everything else in China — there are rules and then there are rules…..

All of us should expect to see the number of those A6s dwindle in the coming year — right!?!?! As they get replaced by Chery QQs 🙂

Hm….  I wonder…..

Other publications have caught the trend too… Here is a quote from a taxi driver in Beijing, China (from The New York Times article):

“Audi is still the de facto car for government officials,” said Wang Zhi, a Beijing taxi driver who has been plying the capital’s gridlocked streets for 18 years. “It’s always best to yield to an Audi — you never know who you’re messing with, but chances are it’s someone self-important.”

What do you think….?