Monthly Archives: December 2011

Merry Christmas everyone!


Remember that Emperor?  In addition to his regular palace, his summer palace, and his ability to communicate with the supreme overlord of the universe, he had a lot of pets.  In the 1700’s he, or most likely one of his ambitious eunuch attendants, decided to build a palace for his pets.  And the successor to that pet palace is the Beijing Zoo.

Today all you need is 10Y for the Zoo or 15Y if you want to visit the panda’s in addition to the rest of the Zoo.

Important fact about the day number one – it was 17 degrees out.  These birds were out and about like nothing was going on.

Important fact about the day number two – the ravens were everywhere.  Quork-ing to each other, to other zoo animals, and probably to themselves.  Also, note the turkeys.  They’re really not all that smart.

Not surprisingly, the flamingos were indoors.

American animals consisted of raccoons, moose, and a bison.  After visiting the American animals, I headed over to the big cat area and it was closed for renovations.  So was the rhino pen and the elephant pen.  Sometimes you get what you pay for.

Although this stone monument was pretty cool, it was not a sufficient replacement for a Siberian Tiger.

Yup.  It’s a Panda.  Moving on.

After the Panda Pen, the Zoo started to have progressively cuter animals doing progressively cuter things.  I went from Lemurs to….

Red pandas to…

Lemurs and chickens and bunnies.  It was like cuteness overload.

Fearing that I crossed the cuteness railing that that suddenness was certainly bound to happen, I left the zoo for the day.

Sunday, I headed over to 798.  798 is an artist’s district similar to Kunsthaus Tacheles in Berlin.  The biggest difference is that 798 occupies an entire rezoned factory.  Unfortunately, most of the galleries didn’t allow flash photography.  What I’ve captured below are some of the installations and street art.  Plus I found a really old sled.

No big plans for Christmas weekend.  I am headed to Shanghai for New Years though, but till then, safe travels.  And yes, that’s Deadpool.  I don’t get it either.

On Saturday I took the high-speed train from Beijing to Tianjin.  Tianjin is a major port city close to Beijing, it is also one of the ten largest cities in China.  In 1902 the 8-Nation Alliance that fought in the Boxer Rebellion ceded control of Tianjin to the ruling Qing emperor of China.  At that time, each of the nations were allowed to keep troops garrisoned in their respective concession. 

Fast forward to today.  Tianjin is a financial hub in northern China and one of the fastest growing cities in the nation.  Although urbanization is rapid, the concessions remain mostly preserved, replete with necessary tourist trappings.

Not quite top speed, but still fast enough to make the 117 km journey from Beijing in little more than 30 minutes (287 km/h = 178 mp/h).

Tianjin station has more than 20 train berths.  Above the station is a nice park, with this really cool clock.

The tallest building in Tianjin.  The fog/smog was pretty thick for most of the morning, unfortunately.

The shopping in Tianjin is laid out more like strip malls than traditional mega-malls.  Christmas trees and reindeer were out in full force.

Yup, like a big poker chip.

6th largest Ferris wheel in the world.  For 60Y (10$) how could I refuse?

After 30 minutes in a 10 ft square box with 3 of my new closest Chinese friends, I was ready to walk again.

After meandering through the Italian Concession I realized just how cold and tired I was from walking around all day and headed back to Tianjin station.

It’s as delicious as it looks.  Don’t judge me!

20 minutes after getting back to the station, I was asleep on a train headed back to Beijing.

Next weekend I’m hoping to visit Beijing’s 798 artist’s district and I’ll probably also visit the zoo.

Till then, safe travels (and watch out for Fonzie Jr. in Tianjin).

After getting some sleep, I was up early on Saturday and out the door.  My hotel was in an area known as Kowloon City.  It seemed to be a very posh and alive area.  I saw lots of very nice cars. Rolls-Royce nice.  Bentley nice.  There’s also a lot of money in Hong Kong, so there are lots of very nice stores.  On my way to breakfast I walked past a Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Armani, Prada, and Burberry.

The exchange rate took a little getting used to, in part because it was around 7.5:1 (HKD:USD) and in part because the $ is used as the currency notation in Hong Kong.  Buying a magazine for 88$ or dinner for 400$ never quite feels right.

I made my way to a nice harbor walk outside of a theater.  The weather was a warm 23 with a nice breeze off the water.  Aside from the air quality, it’s impossible to miss that Hong Kong is very tall.  High rise buildings are everywhere.

Near the harbor walk, I encountered the museum of art. Apparently cats are the new ‘it’ animal. Maybe people in art don’t know about the internet?

A very tall city with lots of construction.  If you look closely at this picture, you’ll notice 99% of the scaffolding is bamboo.  That is a 35 floor building.

Getting off the water and heading into Kowloon a bit more was a treat.  Like most big cities, shops and vendors abound.  Plus, I found some breakfast (36$) and some cool street art.  Apparently if you don’t obey the rules, Hong Kong PD will send the Transformers after you.

Kowloon also has some pretty nice parks.  For an area with land at such a premium, I found some really nice (and surprisingly quiet) parks.

My trip to Hong Kong was awesome.  It’s just a really cool, modern city.  The temperature was refreshing, the food was great, and fresh produce was plentiful.  Hopefully I’ll get to spend some more time there are some point.

This weekend I’m going to take the high-speed express train from Beijing to Tianjin.  Tianjin is a major costal city 110 km East of Beijing.  The train makes the 110 km trip in 30 minutes.

Till then, safe travels (and keep your birds safe!)

I arrived in Hong Kong last night around 9 PM.  The air is clean (and filled with familiar ocean smells), the air is warm, and the buildings are tall.

Beijing must be starting to like me!  The city put up quite a fight when I was trying to leave.  Nice cold temperatures and a few mm of snow delayed my flight by about 2 hours.  I was happy to see that Beijing handles snow on par with New England, which is significantly better than what I expected.

And the delayed flight was totally worth it.  This is the view from my hotel room this morning.  Nice and modern.  Plus, I’m posting this blog from my hotel room, since there’s no Great Firewall here.

I’m heading out for the day.  I’ll post an update tomorrow if time permits.  Till then, safe travels.