In all my time in China I have seldom had the real opportunity to stay in the country during the festive Chinese New Year season (normally around the late January and early February area). However all that changed this year. I had initially planned not to stay in Beijing and was going to head straight to London from Chongqing (I was supposed to be on the Qatar Airways flight from Chongqing to London (Via Doha)). But destiny allowed me to change my plans at the last minute, and this special window opportunity allowed me to stay in Beijing for FOUR days until the late evening of the 22nd (early morning 23rd January actually). This gave me plenty of time to refresh myself about the sights and smells of China's capital city. I have been to Beijing in the winter before but only for a day or so- never had the luxury to stay for 4 days. On the day I had been due to go to Beijing, first I missed my flight from Shanghai (part of it was my fault for not checking out of The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong on time, and secondly I had to thank the ever great Shanghai morning rush hour traffic). I managed to take the Maglev train to the airport, and thankfully was put on the next available flight (there are 22 flights between Beijing and Shanghai everyday so no worries on that account!).
Now, if I thought that the traffic in Shanghai was bad enough, I had a very good surprise waiting for me in Beijing. It took me at least 2 and a half hours to get to the ultra luxurious Park Hyatt Beijing in Guomao area. This included an exciting taxi ride (almost as exciting as in Guangzhou ... but less than Bangkok), where thanks to my impatient taxi driver, I had to change taxies in the middle of my ride (the first taxi driver refused to drive into the heavy traffic).
Just like it's wretched road traffic conditions, Beijing weather can also present some ugly surprises of its own. The first two days it stayed as foggy as the shades of Aladdin’s lamp, and then the next two days it become thankfully more clearer, but more bitterly cold (but not as cold as places like Suzhou where the cold just gets into your bones- extreme).
I managed to make the most of the weather, going to places I had to before to refresh my memory (Shangdi, Wangfujing, Xidan, Guomao, and others), while also exploring areas that I had not been to before (Olympic Park- which is just dormant nowadays). The highlight of it was witnessing the non-stop fireworks display at midnight on the 22nd January from the waiting gates at Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital Airport. The whole airport, and its staff members came to a complete standstill for around 20 minutes (even the pilots and baggage handlers stopped) to witness the fireworks. The backdrop music of opera singing coming from the state owned CCTV1 echoed throughout the terminal.
Below are some of the photos of this beautiful city, enjoy:
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