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A Beijing Christmas 1



In December symbols of Christmas can be seen on Beijing streets these days, often with a unique Chinese interpretation.

9 million bicycles and counting 0

Katie Melua’s lovely song says there are 9 million bicycles in Beijing. As of October 09 there were actually around 13 million, (according the China Daily).


It is not all good news however – unfortunately 10,000 cars are being added to Beijing roads every week and by next year it is predicted there will be 4 million cars in Beijing.


This is a rate of growth that took cities like Tokyo 12 years to reach – Beijing has achieved this in only 2.5 years. Hopefully city planners will preserve the great cycling tradition in Beijing.

See how things have changed: Images of Beijing traffic over 30 years.

Keen to bike in and around Beijing? Check out Bicycle Kingdom for tours.

Beijing Opera and Kung Fu Movies 0


Beijing Opera performers sometimes make a crossover into movies where they can use their acrobatic and acting skills in action movies. Jackie Chan is a good example of this.

Here is a clip of me performing in a historical action movie:

The Temple of Heaven 0

The Temple of Heaven is situated 2km southeast of the Forbidden City.

This is a beautiful place to visit with wonderful buildings and parklands.


The Temple of Heaven was constructed in the 15th century around the time the Forbidden City was built. At the centre of the complex is a 3 tier circular building where the Emperor would pray for good harvests.


The roof of the buildings are covered with black, yellow or green colored glazed tiles that represent the heavens, the earth and everything on earth, and golden yellow symbolizing the Emperor and green Buddhism.


The Temple is a United Nations world heritage site. It is set in one of the largest parks in Beijing. The parklands and the Temple are a lovely place to spend some time, especially in the early morning.


The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is completely wooden and built with no nails. The hall is constructed with 28 pillars, each made from a single tree trunk. The 4 pillars around the inner circle represent the 4 seasons. The 12 posts around the middle circle represent the 12 months. The 12 outer pillars represent 12 ShiChen or 2 hour periods which divide a day.

The legend of the white serpent 0

The white and blue-green snake sisters in the Legend of Madam White Snake are among my favourite Beijing Opera roles. The story is about two snake demons;  Madam White Snake [ Bai SuZhen ] and her confidant Blue-Green Snake [ Xiao Qingwho ] who strive to become Goddesses by taking human form and do good deeds.

Me in the role of the Lady White Snake Bai SuZhen

They constantly battle a sorcerer called FaHai who wishes to destroy all demons. Bai SuZhen meets a young scholar [ Xu Xian ] and they fall in love. He is unaware that she is really a white snake and they marry. However the unnatural marriage brings disaster to their village and when Bai SuZhen’s origins are revealed she is imprisoned forever in a deep well under a pagoda. It is a lovely story full of action, romance and great characters.

Find out more about the legend on Wikipedia

Check out this great picture book on the legend

More resources and links about the White Snake story

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