Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Winter in Beijing

Although it may appear that we are on a long vacation here in Beijing, the fact is, we spend our weekdays carrying out activities just the way we would normally do when we are back home.

It is only during the weekends that we would do some sightseeing and tour around the city. This is partly because the cold weather has been keeping us indoor most of the time, (and it 'sgetting colder each day!), and partly because we have been to most of the 'must-see' spots in this ancient city when we were here during the autumn.

We went to the YiHeYuan or the Summer Palace two weeks ago, since I didn't have the chance to include this place in our itinerary during our last visit.

It was a bright and sunny day...this picture may give you the wrong impression that it must be quite warm. No, we are not looking out of the window from our flat back home in Singapore. This is Beijing, and it was freezing COLD. The temperature was below freezing point. Coupled with the breeze, it made us wondered why on earth we would go to a SUMMER resort for the emperors, during a cold WINTER day?!

The entire KunMing Lake was all frozen.

We took a long walk along the KunMing Lake...crossed the 17-Arch bridge (we counted the number of arches, and yes, there are 17 of them) to the Nanhu Island. Now, you may wonder why they built 17 and not 18 arches along the span of the bridge? We know that the number 8 is a homonym for luck or wealth in Chinese, but, the 9th arch in the centre, which is also the largest, is considered the number most auspicious for emperors. So the emperor or the 'Son of Heaven' (天子) is symbolically positioned in the middle with good fortune (8 arches) on both sides!

One of the four magnificent "guarding angels" at the ends of the bridge...

There are 544 stone lions (and a mysterious Bob) on the railings of the 17 Arches Bridge. No, we didn't count them, I got the number from the web ;)

We tried having a little picnic by the bench at the tiny Nanhu Island...but it was another great mistake we made! It was so cold to sit down to rest. We had to keep moving in order to stay warm, and the sandwiches I made turn dry and hard the moment the toast bread met the dry cold wind. It was a good thing that we brought along some chocolates, it gave us the necessary energy and brought us some cheery smiles from the kids. Well, for someone living in a tropical island, I also found it very amusing to discover that our haversack became a cooler bag!! Our drinks were icy cold, as though we have just taken them out from the fridge.

Despite the ammonia smell, I resort to seeking refuge in the warm public toilet ^.^" I wasn't alone, I found out later that my kids made clever use of the hand-blower in the gents...they managed to trap some warm air inside their gloves.

We would have walked along the Nanhu Lake if the weather was warmer. In the end, we didn't brave the cold and had to shorten the trip and made our way back to the palace area.

A colourful sight of hawkers, hawking their wares...

Even though it was too cold for comfort, the scenery was simply awesome.

I didn't take that many pictures because every now and then I had to thaw my frozen fingers inside my pockets, but I promise, there will be more pictures on my upcoming post.


twinkie said...

hi bakingmum! wow! great pics! i went there 2weeks ago and the river were starting to freeze up liao. it was super cold!! walking on concrete was like walking on ice barefoot..canot imagine now its even colder..

enjoy ur holidays!

tracieMoo said...

This place does look beautiful. The scenery is just breath taking, it is worth the cold. What a wonderful vacation :) I cant wait to see more.

Anonymous said...

Did you wear gloves? Its essential. Also boots preferable made of suede to keep you warm. Seude is softer than the normal type of leather. Beijing is a good place to stock up on winter clothing. I am sure you can find lovely seude there. Also remember to wear your hat as you lose about 30% of your body heat from your head.

I love winter and I usually plan my vacation in winter. Coming from tropical Spore, I think its beautiful.

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Anonymous, thanks so much for your concern :)
I don't wear gloves, as I won't be able to take pictures, I hid my hands underneath the sleeves and pockets. I don't have boots, I only have my old pair of jogging shoes, and I even wore them to the ski fields. I don't wear hat either, as I find it very restrictive and I hate the sensation on my hair when static builds up. I use the hood of my outer jacket sometimes though. I do not like to put on too many layers of clothing either, I only put on a t-shirt, a sweater and a outer jacket. It makes me feel very uncomfortable, so I will skip the sweater if I know I won't be out in the cold for more than an hour. I can't imagine myself wearing long johns either, I'll probably be suffocated to death ;)

Pei-Lin said...

I've got to agree with anonymous though you have to wear gloves no matter what happens! Otherwise, your hands will end up drier and possibly, cracked! I've had that before ... I sort of bled ... of course, not that severe. =P

And, that Bob the Builder ... *giggling*


PiggyMummy said...

What lovely scenery! Awesome photos too! And 'mysterious Bob' add some colours to the serious looking lions =)

The sky is so deceiving!
Every time I get such nice blue sky, my elder boy will tell me "Mama, no need gloves today!" ... Blue sky, no gloves, and play in snow *Faint*

Hope you get to do more sightseeing before heading back to Singapore .. Looking forward to seeing more photos from you!