Archive for September, 2008

Contemporary Art and New Climbing Wall

Dienstag, September 30th, 2008

Beijing has the 798 Art district for contemporary art. But there are also some other places for contemporary art like near the 3rd ring road with some galleries and museums.

Contemporary Art Sculptures

Contemporary Art Museum

This was on the way to the new climbing wall. This will be Beijing’s biggest indoor climbing and bouldering wall. And from the first impression it will also be the best. It is located in the Ole Sports facility. Here is teh current status of the 10 meter tall climbing wall:

Beijing Indoor Climbing Wall

This room that is just getting prepared will be a huge bouldering room. That would be even bigger than the bouldering room Beijing had in 2004 (before the building it was inside had been torn down).

Beijing Indoor Bouldering Room

Sometimes you actually get the feeling of being in the countryside despite being inside Beijing 4th ring road:

Cart full of Fruits

Peloton Road Cycling and more Sports

Montag, September 29th, 2008

This was a busy first day off for the National holiday week. I started early morning (6:30am) cycling with the Beijing Road Cyclist Group heading out North to Mang Shan. Of course I was riding my fixed gear – my blue Corima. We started out with at least 12 riders riding from the city meeting point. We were only 2 female riders. Unfortunately the other woman crashed into a motorized transportation tricycle coming fast in the wrong direction on our cycling path after about 15km when we were still cycling through urban traffic chaos.

Cycling through Beijing Traffic

At a certain point there was only 7 of of us left. Our group leader Tom had to turn back early and we all agreed not going all the way to Mang Shan. So we only did a small climb and turned back.

Small Mountain Peak

On the way back we saw the corn being dried on the side of streets as well as some road side vendors.

Farmers selling their Goods

The corn lying around everywhere to dry is very typical for villages. But I seldom see people lying on the corn on the side of a 4 lane road.

Lying on Drying Corn

Even on the way back we lost another 2 riders: One got a flat tire, the other was just out of sight behind us. It was a short 77km round trip ride from Upper East Side, which means it was about a 90km ride for me. It was a lot of fun. Click here for more pictures.

Quite Cycling Lane outside of Beijing

But that was not all that day. In the early evening I went climbing in the Ritan Park. Many of our friends were there and I climbed about 3 routes. After that I went for about 3.5 hours of Juggling Group. Even though I did not juggle that much. I rather balanced on the rola bola and did some acrobatics. Laura brought her parents whos birthday it was the next and following day. So Laura also brough us her self made vegan chocolate cake. Wow, that was delicious! That made it even harder for me to cycle all the way back home from Club Obiwan on the west shore of Xihai lake.

Beijing Bicycle Parking Lots

Sonntag, September 28th, 2008

Where do you put your bike without the fear of having it stolen? Best is in a bicycle parking lot with a guard or owner. Some places in Beijing have outdoor bicycle parking for 0.2RMB for a normal single speed (and also fixed gear) bike and 0.3RMB for mountain bikes, race bikes or anything with gears per day. Here is one owner of a bike parking lot conveniently located near the Yonganli subway station. He is only open from 9:00am till 9:00pm.

Beijing Outdoor Bicycle Parking

I am very happy to see that in some cases even in fancy new building complexes they provide bike parking facilities. In Jianwai SOHO they do not like having bikes standing around so they designated a part of the underground car park for bicycles. And this parking is free of charge!

Jianwei SOHO Bike Parking

Bikes and more Bikes

While cycling around today I discovered a new building that I had not seen before. Well actually the left part is an old building just covered with new glass (I heard the people renting the offices were able to stay inside during the construction, but had to pay more after the construction was finished). The right side is a new building. And the bridge had to be built that it holds by itself (connected to the right building). It is quite impressive with all that red/pink glass:

New Pink Building

This is a picture of the Beijing „Twin Towers“ which are not so high:

LG Twin Towers of Beijing

Beijing Improv Show

Freitag, September 26th, 2008

The Beijing Improv Group arranged another night with great theater sport show. This time they performed in a bigger theater next to the Beijing Academy of Drama. The show was called „The Return of the Jing“.

Beijing Improv Group

I think that name might have been inspired by the fact that the Beijing residents finally have the feeling that the Capital (Jing) is returning back to normal as the Olympic period is over. So the Jing is returning back to us.

Finally I hat time to chang the style of the webalbums I generate. The first uploaded webalbum has pictures of this Improv show. Please have a look at the pictures. Actually it should automatically start advancing to the next picture till it reaches the last picture. If not, then go to the first picture and click the small button „Play“ on top right of the picture. The automatic slide show should start (Java required). I hope you like the new style of the webalbum. If you encounter problems or have suggestions, please let me know.

Ines at Penghao Theater

Keirin Racer Tomity

Mittwoch, September 24th, 2008

What a nice surprise! Toshihiko Tomita contacts me. He is the visible promoter of Keirin track racing outside Japan known as Tomity. He has been a professional Keirin racer for over 25 years. He now acts like a Keirin ambassador.  The Keirin sport in Japan is popular as it is a legal form of gambling. It is similar to horse racing. You can bet money on any of the 9 cyclists. The Japanese athletes have to go to a special school and then be selected to be able to ride in Keirin races. The average money that is bet on one rider can go up to 84000US$.

So the famous Tomity made me a Senjafuda and uploaded it to flickr. I am so honored!

Ines Brunn Senja Fuda


Senjafuda (千社札, literally „thousand shrine tags“) are stickers or scraps of paper posted on the gates of shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. The stickers bear the name of the worshipper. Today they are often used somewhat as a business card or to mark something personal.

Beijing Traffic Chaos

Dienstag, September 23rd, 2008

I did not expect it to be this bad. Beijing had a special rule since July that on an even date on cars that had a number plate ending with an even number were allowed to drive and on odd dates only the odd numbers. Also trucks and big vehicles were also not allowed to drive within the 5th ring road. But those restrictions were only valid till September 20th 2008. Now we are back to normal.

Are we really? Has it always been this bad? Between 5pm and 7:30pm cars seem to not move on one of the huge East-West roads I have been cycling on yesterday and today. The road looks like a 6 lane wide 10km long parking lot crammed with cars. Good that there is a special bus lane for the rush hour which the bicyclists can also use. We were all speeding by the jammed cars. That is fun. Well, for me as I am a bicyclist. For the car drivers it seemed to be annoying as I have seen the craziest driving techniques I had long forgotten about (In my memory the driving style was getting more civilized in the past 12 months. But it seems the drivers have forgotten about that.). I have seen cars pull out into the opposite side of the street driving against that traffic on the fast lane and then cutting across 3 lanes of cars going in the same direction to make a right turn. And almost hitting the bicyclists.

Maybe there are just more cars in Beijing than 3 months ago. According to the statistics that should be 90000 more cars which could contribute to the difference. Or maybe people had been encouraged to use their cars during the period of the restrictions as there were not so many traffic jams.

Not just the non car owning population is unhappy. There even voices that suggest Beijing to continue with the driving restrictions. I think that would be a great idea! Even a Chinese friend of mine pointed out that the restrictions helped him start bicycling again. That resulted in weight loss. And he now even thinks it does not make sense to own a car in Beijing. I hope others start thinking the same!

Kayak,Wedding and Dragonboat

Sonntag, September 21st, 2008

Today I friend of mine initiated to meet for some kayaking on Houhai Lake of Beijing. While waiting at the bridge I saw a wedding boat procession:

Wedding Boats

Then came the boat with the bride and groom as well as the good man throwing cigarettes to the crowd (Chinese tradition) while the bride’s face was covered by a red (the color of happiness and good luck) cloth:

Bride and Groom

I also saw children in the typical Chinese environmentally friendly pants (no diapers are used):

Chinese diaperless pants

When we came to the kayak rental I ran into my former dragon boat team. They just finished a dragon boat race today and unfortunately lost. But the great news is they now practice Sunday afternoons and not anymore early Sunday mornings (which was one of the reasons I did not show up anymore).

Beijing International Dragonboat Team

We rented kayaks and paddled around the lake. We foreigners in these small boats were an attraction to the Chinese in their pedal propelled boats. They were all friendly, waved and said hi before taking the picture. We also past some courageous Chinese men swimming in Houhai. We washed our arms off after the kayaking.

Houhai Boat Rental

Great Wall Hike Jinshanling to Simatai

Samstag, September 20th, 2008

You can go to the Great Wall of China multiple times as there are various sections. Around Beijing there used to be only the three sections open to tourists four years ago: The overcrowded renovated section at Badaling, the renovated section at Mutianyu and the slightly renovated section at Simatai.

Simatai Great Wall

Four years ago hardly anybody went to the Great Wall at Simatai as the roads to get there were not good. It used to take over 3 hours to drive there but it was well worth it as the section has very steep parts and breathtaking views. Today the road to get there is perfect with more highway in construction. The Great Wall section west of Simatai called Jinshanling is now getting more and more tourists.

The Great Wall of China

The China Capital Toastmasters Club (CCTMC) organized an outing to the Great Wall. We rented a bus. 24 friends left early in the morning and drove to Jinshanling. We started our hike from the Jinshanling parking lot. It is an easy paved road to the wall. It was quite crowded from there till the place where the cable car ends. It seems a lotof people do take the very slow cable car.

Praying Manta and Great Wall

A praying manta decided to secretly hitchhike on Ivana’s hat, but she did not really like that. The hike was quite pleasant as this section is not too steep and either still in good condition as well as renovated. The more unrenovated parts started just before we stopped for our lunch break. In our group were not many foreigners so even while cooking some ladies were trying to sell touristy souvenirs to me. Thanks to Yann for the above and below picture.

Cooking Lunch on the Great Wall

Especially after lunch our group fell into small subgroups. The fastest group decided to hike up to the top of Simatai. That was really exhausting because it only goes uphill till the end. There is a guard who makes sure that nobody walks any further. We were happy to have come all the way. Here is the link to the webalbum with more pictures.

Hiking on the Great Wall

Back in Beijing we had dinner at the official Guizhou province restaurant. That was a delicious traditional dinner in a fancy room with traditional music and ladies helping us drink. Here are some pictures. What a great day out!

Traditional Guizhou Dinner

Wine Tasting

Freitag, September 19th, 2008

A friend of mine sells wine asseccories in China. He invited for a small international wine tasing in his office. We had some French and Australian wine, some from Chile and New Zealand. It is nice to meet people who are also interested in wine. Especially if they do not just buy the most expensive bottle and then put ice cubes and sprite into the wine like many Chinese do. Slowly we hope to spread the culture of wine drinking in China.

Wine Tasting