Freezing in Beijing

I am a well-planned person who always make details of everything. Not a crazy yet perfectionist (almost), just want to make sure everything is on the right track..(and always systematically – OCD effect actually :P). However, this Beijing trip planned only 2 weeks before departure! (FYI, this is my first time traveling without buying Lonely Planet). Never crossed in my mind to have a trip to China, especially in winter. This plan came from my uncle, a week before Christmas 2010. He told me about the family trip to Beijing for the sake of playing ski..It’s called Winter trip 🙂  Since I have no leave days left in 2010, he suggested to take leave days in 2011…well, that’s interesting and I haven’t seen any snow in front of my eyes nor playing ski..OK..count me in!. And the trip to Beijing with 8 pax, began in 7 January 2011 at 11 PM with Garuda Indonesia.

Story before departure: As we lived in Indonesia (Jakarta) with temperature 25 – 35 C (sometimes higher!), we never know how cold a winter is. From internet, I found out the temperature in Beijing will be around -2 C. The lowest temperature that we had in Indonesia probably ~15 C.  We definitely didn’t want to get frozen in Beijing, so we brought winter clothes, gloves, winter hat, scarf, etc. And it took a lot of spaces in our luggage because we also have to bring more clothes to expect the cold. Another story is about my camera, it was broken. Yes, my dear canon 400D was suddenly not working, something wrong happened when I changed the memory card.  I was crying because it happened just 2 hours before going to airport. My mom told me to bring the camera, maybe we can fix it in Beijing (with the possibility using “out of nowhere” language since people in Beijing are rarely spoken in English).

We departed from Jakarta at 11 PM (almost midnight) with estimated time arrival is 7 AM in Beijing. The journey quite scary because turbulence happened above Philippine (I did not feel it actually because I was overslept he2..). Before landing, the flight officer told us the ground temperature will be -6 C (damn, it’s even lower!). We didn’t wear winter clothes from Jakarta,  but we already put the winter clothes at the top of pile in our luggage, so right before exit from the airport, we will have our winter clothes on 🙂 .  However we miscalculated the weather because just 1 minute after crossing the airport gate, we already freezing. It was COLD!!!!!!…

Day 1 (8 Jan 2011): Our first trip after arrival was having breakfast then exploring The National Theater – Tiananmen Square – Forbidden City.  That trip only took ~ 30 minutes, because the weather was too cold, and we did not prepare the clothes (just 2 shirts beside the coat) even we already put the winter clothes on. We beg to our tour guide to take us to hotel and continue the trip tomorrow so we are ready physically and not get frozen by wearing more shirts on!

– In the afternoon, I tried to fix my camera by going to electronic mall with my uncle. It took 1 hour to explain about what happened to my camera. Finally, I have to pay 300 yuan for the service. And my camera is back on action! FYI, I wore 5 layers of shirts + coat and 2 pair of socks! the result: still freezing! –

Day 2 (9 Jan 2011): Today is full day trip, it’s started with going back to Tiananmen Square and Forbidden city with 6 layers of shirts +coat+gloves+hat+mask and 2 pair of socks. We hardly moved with those clothes, it was so heavy! Even the sun was shining brightly, the temperature still – 6 C…and the wind..God, it’s killing us! After 4 hours walking and exploring the largest square and the largest UNESCO’s collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world, we finally made it to the final gate! And the frozen river is welcoming us.. *I always miss the moment when Ken Nara mumbled and said: Ayah is mean, Ayah is evil,  why we always taking picture picture picture hahahaha (because Ayah always say PICTURE when finding the beautiful spot)…and he did it for 4 hours!  Well, perhaps Ken too tired to walk exploring that huge palace.

The next route was Jingshan Park (just across the final gate of the forbidden city) and Lama Temple. This beautiful temple has 18m statue of Maitreya Buddha.

Next destination is Beijing Zoo! Yes, we are going to meet Poo..the cute panda!  Unfortunately, we can’t feed or even touch them directly. They were hiding and some were taking nap time.

Today’s final route was Summer Palace. Can’t find the words to describe this beautiful place. It has frozen lake at the center and the architecture of the temple and palace are amazing! After having dinner, we see the famous China Acrobatic Show. Two thumbs for the show!

Day 3 (10 Jan 2011): This is the day that we’ve been waiting..we are going to Nanshan! From Beijing,  we stopped by at Ming Tomb before proceeding to Nanshan Ski Village. Ming tomb is the site where 13 Ming Dynasty Emperors buried. This place is the second best place to train your heart. First we have to climb to reach the gate and step down the stairs ( a lot of stairs!) to reach the tomb. But it’s all pay off after you see it.

Next trip is Nanshan Ski Village, just 2 – 3 hours outside Beijing, we already forgot how the tomb “torture” us because we will see snow and play ski!! Our tour guide told us the temperature at Nanshan will be much colder than Beijing, and it’s already 6 PM when we arrived and yes, it’s extremely cold! Our villa was beautiful, it’s very natural located beside the ski track, so we can see the place that we are going to play for tomorrow! *dancing*. PS: if you want to visit Nanshan, please bring a lot of food because this site is very remote and the food price here is very expensive!

Day 4 (11 Jan 2011): It’s time to ski! Since none of us can play ski, so we have to take a class first. From 6 tutors, only 1 who can speak English, so you can imagine how difficult to understand their explanation.

How to play ski: to slide, you have to bend your knee and make sure your ski board is straight like number 11. And to stop, you have to make “A” letter with your ski board and straighten your knee.

Skiing is so hard, because you must have a good balance and enough power to move your body. Otherwise you will miss the fun of skiing (like me..once is enough, twice..I’m about to faint 😦  ). A big applause for Ken Nara, my 7 years old cousin who can play alone in the advance slope! I envy you Ken! .

Day 5 (12 Jan 2011):  We checked out after breakfast and proceed to the famous Great Wall. We take the Mutianyu spot because it less tourists and have a great view. The track to reach the skylift is the third best place to train your heart. It’s about 30 – 40 minutes walk climb up! With cold weather, heavy clothes…My mom almost give up but my uncle always encourage her by saying..come on, it’s 7 hours flight to reach China!!. And here we are, at The Great Wall!  This wall was built 2000 years ago with 6000 km long. It is estimated 1 million workers died when build this wall. The first plan to build was to protect the empire from Mongolian’s attack.

It’s almost 2 PM when we arrived at Beijing, and after having late lunch, we stopped by at Olympic Stadium – A Bird’s Nest. This stadium is more beautiful at night because the lighting are fantastic!

The night show scheduled is Kungfu! It’s a great show. A big applause for the Shaolins!

Day 6 (13 Jan 2011): Today’s trip is going to Tianjin City. Actually we want to see and ride The Tianjin’s Eye, a 120m tall Ferris wheel that claimed to be the only one in the world which have been constructed over a bridge. We came back to Beijing using the bullet train. It only took 15 minutes to reach Beijing with this super speed train.

Day 7 (14 Jan 2011): Today schedule is only to see Temple of Haven. The Ming and Qing Dynasties use this temple for ceremonies praying for good harvest. There was a sad story at that day, Ken Nara was sick and can’t join us to visit this temple. He always said that the most wanted place he want to see is this temple since he saw this temple as the pit stop in Amazing Race show 😦 . But he missed it, and he said to Ayah: Ayah, I’m so sad, you know how I always want to see this place *crying*. We end this trip by watching the famous Peking Opera.

Day 8 (15 Jan 2011): It’s time to go back to Jakarta..we check out from hotel at 5 AM, it took 1.5 hrs to reach the airport, and our flight scheduled on 9 AM. After long trip, we finally arrived in Jakarta at 3 PM!  No turbulence during the flight but I got turbulence in my stomach as I got poisoned by food served on the flight (it was fish and I’m allergic to fish by the way).

The trip is the most memorable journey with full of fun, happiness, laugh, tears (because that crazy cold weather 🙂 )…I will miss that moment!!

– More stories are illustrated in my web album “An Illustrated Journey” –

2 thoughts on “Freezing in Beijing

  1. hi amelia, thanks for sharing your experiences in beijing. i’ve enjoyed reading this blog and got some tips for a winter vacation. we’ll be travelling in beijing in february next year. kinda worried about the weather and how cold it is since i also live in a tropical country. btw, how many layers did you wear for your lower garments aside from jeans/pants? what hotel did you stay? and who’s your tour guide.

    thank you

    1. Hi there…
      I wore longjohn before pants/jeans. I recommend you to use special shoes for winter. Because it’s so cold. I stayed at holiday inn express in beijing. My tour guide was from Jakarta and they hand over us to local tour in Beijing.

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