Monday, April 5, 2010

Holiday Weekend in Beijing

It was a double holiday last weekend with Easter, not known by many and even forgotten by some, and Qing Ming, or Tomb Sweeping Festival. It's the time to pay your respects to those who have passed away (perhaps they have also risen from the dead), and offer gifts, made of paper, deemed necessary for the after life.

Of course, you have to keep up with the changing times - and with the neighbours- so in addition to the traditional items of paper money, other sacrificial articles now available, all made of paper, include villas, sedan cars, garments, wines, cigarettes, seafood, pianos, violins and other "luxury goods", so reports the China Daily. This year's creative thinking by those out to commercialise the festival has led to some novel ideas. "The 18-yuan ($2.6) bra and a cosmetics set, which costs 28 yuan, are new products this year. The cosmetics set includes foundation, perfume, lipstick, facial cleansing cream, lotion and shampoo". It's not clear if they are only for women, but I know a few men who would appreciate these as well.

And of course you can remember your loved ones on the internet on special memorial websites for those too busy to go to the cemetery. After all, who knows, there may well be life after death in cyberspace.

I did not join the half million Beijingers in their tomb-sweeping and instead just spent the sunny day in Ritan (Temple of Earth) park. Whereas its more famous counterpart, the Temple of Heaven, lies to south of the city, Ritan Park in the north is a much more modest affair located near the earliest diplomatic area. It is nevertheless an interesting place to stroll around in on this holiday. The many tress there were starting to blossom like the magnolia in the photo.

There were lots of families out enjoying some local snacks (roast sweet potatoes and strawberries already), as well as flying their kites or practising 'tai qi'.

They do seem to start young these days. The boy in the photo was only 5 yrs old and not only performed a vigorous set of movements for me, but could also speak some simple English.


The city traffic was light because of the long weekend, and some local farmers even ventured into town with their horse-drawn carts.
Another traditional form of transport is the rickshaw which can be found outside shopping malls where foreigners like to go, such as this one called "Alien's Street", written in English and Russian.
Let me know if you want to go for a walk in a park, eat local snacks, ride a rickshaw or go shopping. I can tell you the best places to go (for cosmetics as well but not for bras!).


  1. Is the cherry blossom out yet? In March Beijing was still very cold.


  2. Yes, cherry and many other fruit blossoms just starting. Everything is late this year, but it is getting warmer finally.

  3. Beijing was changing rapidly in recent years. I liked your post about the kid who played Kung Fu. He looks funny