Tag Archives: China

Train trip: from Beijing to The Great Wall

Train is the safest and most comfortable transport from Beijing to The Great Wall. It is fast, clean, not crowded and offers nice views. Travelling by car or bus can take longer when you get stuck in traffic jam.

Trains to The Great Wall (Badaling station) depart from Beijing North Railway Station, which is located next to the subway station Xizhimen on Beijing subway line 2, exit A. Ticket offices are located at the right side of the building and in the basement (less crowded). Ask for ticket to Badaling station. One way ticket costs 19 RMB for the second class and 23 RMB for the first class.

Beijing North Railway Station

Choose one of these air conditioned trains from Beijing North to Badaling:
Y563 Beijing North 07:26 Badaling 08:25
Y567 Beijing North 09:33 Badaling 10:42
Y571 Beijing North 11:08 Badaling 12:15
Y575 Beijing North 13:19 Badaling 14:28
Y579 Beijing North 15:01 Badaling 16:10

And back from Badaling to Beijing North:
Y572 Badaling 11:42 Beijing North 12:59
Y580 Badaling 15:22 Beijing North 16:28
Y588 Badaling 19:40 Beijing North 20:57

Badaling station looks like this so be sure to get off at the right station. Trains in China are on time so get off according to the schedule. When you exit the gate of Badaling station turn left and walk 1000 meters. Entrance to The Great Wall costs 45 RMB. Opening Hours are 06:30-19:00 in summer and 07:00-18:00 in winter.

Badaling Station

The Great Wall

The most popular Chinese websites

Chinese internet population is estimated to be 420 million. Compared with other countries it is much more controlled by the government and there is even Internet Police in China.

Only 1 of 10 people in China use Google. More than 80% of search is done by Baidu. Company which has more than 6 thousand employees was founded in 2000 by Robin Li, who is at the top of Chinese billionaires list.

Facebook is blocked by The Great Firewall of China so social network market is ruled by local companies. Renren which has 160 million users and Kaixin with 100 million users are both expected to do IPO in 2011. Despite being blocked in China Facebook gains more Chinese users mostly among 440 thousand Chinese students who study abroad, mostly in USA, UK and Australia.

Also YouTube is not popular among censors and is on the blacklist of Chinese firewall. Therefore space for local copies is widely open and the most popular are Youku (already listed at NYSE) and Tudou which is preparing for IPO in cooperation with Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.

Microblogging is very popular among Chinese with more than 120 million users who use local services because Twitter is blocked in China. The most popular microblog is Sina Weibo, the 3rd largest internet company by capitalization Tencent also created its Tencent Weibo in 2010.

Chinese also love online shopping. The most popular retail website Taobao is owned by Alibaba group, founder of B2B website Alibaba.

Skype and MSN are used by some Chinese but instant messaging is also ruled by locals. QQ is operated by Chinese largest internet company Tencent. The number of simultaneous online QQ accounts exceeds 100 million and more than 640 million QQ accounts are active.

China to build 10 million housing units

Chinese officials announced to spend about 1.3 trillion yuan ($197 billion) to build 10 million units of government subsidized housing this year.

Investment in real estate is very popular among Chinese as there are not many opportunities to invest for them. Therefore prices are booming despite estimates say there are 200 million housing units uninhabited.

According to statistics from China Index Academy, a Beijing-based property research institute, 10 big Chinese cities saw a year-on-year increase in property prices of at least 15 percent in February.

One of the largest developers in Beijing, Pan Shiyi – chairman of SOHO China, wrote at his blog: “The 36 million units of government-subsidized housing in the next few years will take half of the country’s real estate market, posing a great challenge to developers”.

Sanlitun SOHO
Photo: Sanlitun SOHO, Beijing

Chinese Property: The Most Important Sector in the World

Eagles concert in Beijing

Yesterday I was at Eagles concert in Beijing. It was in Mastercard Arena (formerly Wukesong) which is Olympics basketball arena so it is pretty new.

The concert was sold out but there were many resellers trying to sell tickets in front of the arena. I did not see almost any free seat when I was inside so they were probably very successful or they were selling fake tickets.

At the entrance tickets were checked visually, ticket codes were checked with computer scanners and also infrared light. The security checkpoint was quite vague. They had metal scanners but some people were only checked with manual scanner. Photo and video cameras were allowed and also half meter long  light tubes which I hate because it was very annoying during the concert.

The start time at the ticket said 19:30 and concert started at 19:45 which was surprising because I expected it to start about 1 hour later. There was no support band and when the lights were turned on Eagles just started to play Waiting In The Weeds and later they greeted fans in Chinese. Then they played their first number one single Best Of My Love and continued with their first million selling single Take It To The Limit which I liked very much. The audience was thrilled when Hotel California tunes started. After slow introduction more rock songs followed and I think 18 songs were played in total.

The encore consisted of Take It Easy, Rocky Mountain Way and the last song of the evening was Desperado. Eagles played for 2 hours and I still expected some other songs but the guys are too old :)

There were no standing tickets in the arena, only seats. Chinese authorities probably do not like huge standing crowds. There were many security officials outside and also inside.

Despite copyright announcement and camera restriction announcement many people were shooting with flashes, also video cameras were used. Camera flashes were distracting and I do not understand people who shoot with compact camera flash at concert, anyway the most annoying were flashing light tubes. Anybody did not care about camera restriction during the performance. First videos from the concert were online the same day, you can see Hotel California at Youku.com. Also Eagles branded souvenirs were sold in front of the arena but it did not look like official merchandise which was sold inside.

Visitors were mostly Chinese, maybe less than 10% were foreigners, I met feng shui architect from Taiwan and accountant from Beijing. This was my first big concert in China. It was quite well organised, there were no issues, place was nice and Eagles were great. I am looking forward to Bob Dylan who will be in Beijing in three weeks :)

Wukesong Arena Facade {Original Color: YELLOW}
Photo: Master Card Wukesong Arena Beijing