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CHANGING CURRENTS
REFLECTIONS
The MEDIUM, the MESSAGE and the SAUSAGE DOG
CYCLING TO XANADU
THE CHINESE DREAM
CHINESE NEW YEAR ADS
BEYOND THE WALL
ANYONE FOR TENNIS?
VIEWS FROM ABOARD THE CHINA EXPRESS:
1 Zola and Retail Marketing
2 Playing the Waiting Game
3 Beware the Ides of March
4 The county not on a map
5 Chinese Chess in Beijing
6 Build it and They'll Come
7 Riding the Water Dragon
8 The Best of Both Worlds
9 Storming the Great Wall
10 Welcome to the Wangba
11 The Catcher in the Rice
12 The Marriage Business
13 The Crouching Dragon
14 Counting the Numbers
15 A Century of Migration
16 Shooting for the Stars
17 Rise of Yorkshire Puds
18 Harry Potter in Beijing
19 Standing Out in China
20 Self-pandactualisation
21 Strolling on the Moon
22 Tea with the Brothers
23 Animated Guangzhou
24 Trouble on the Farms
25 Christmas in Haerbin
26 Dave pops into Tesco
27 A Breath of Fresh Air
28 The Boys from Brazil
29 Rolls-Royce on a roll
30 The Great Exhibition
31 Spreading the Word
32 On Top of the World
33 Moonlight Madness
34 Beijing's Wild West
35 Avatar vs Confucius
36 Brand Ambassadors
37 Inspiring Adventure
38 China's Sweet Spot
39 Spinning the Wheel
40 Winter Wonderland
41 The End of the Sky
42 Ticket to Ride High
43 Turning the Corner
44 Trouble in Toytown
45 Watch with Mother
46 Red-crowned Alert
47 In a Barbie World
48 Domestic Arrivals
49 Tale of Two Taxis
50 Land of Extremes
51 Of 'Mice' and Men
52 Tour of the South
53 Brooding Clouds?
54 The Nabang Test
55 Guanxi Building
56 Apple Blossoms
57 New Romantics
58 The Rose Seller
59 Rural Shanghai
60 Forbidden Fruit
61 Exotic Flavours
62 Picking up Pace
63 New Year, 2008
64 Shedding Tiers
65 Olympic Prince
66 London Calling
67 A Soulful Song
68 Paradise Lost?
69 Brandopolises
70 Red, red wine
71 Finding Nemo
72 Rogue Dealer
73 Juicy Carrots
74 Bad Air Days
75 Golden Week
76 Master Class
77 Noodle Wars
78 Yes We Can!
79 Mr Blue Sky
80 Keep Riding
81 Wise Words
82 Hair Today
83 Easy Rider
84 Aftershock
85 Bread vans
86 Pick a card
87 The 60th
88 Ox Tales
CHARTS
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2017
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2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2001 to 2007
BIRDS IN CHINA - PHOTOS
BIRDING in CHINA
PORTS of CALL
ABOUT & CONTACT

A Breath of Fresh Air

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What the boss doesn't see...

Mao Zedong loved the place so much that he was moved to write a poem about it.  Deng Xiaoping often brought his family here for their summer holidays.
 
  More than a few state leaders have “grace and favour” homes here.  Many of the big decisions that have shaped modern China have been made here, not in Beijing (the National Congress pre-meetings were held here for years). And numerous Beijingers have spent at least a weekend here in the summer and told millions about it.
 
  Of course!  It could only be Beidaihe, a small town on the coast of Hebei province.
 
  If you were the marketing director of Beidaihe’s tourism board, you could be forgiven for thinking that the job has already been done, and for putting up the “gone for a stroll along one of Beidaihe’s famous sandy beaches” sign on your office door.
 
  Most visitors who make the 280km trip from Beijing (in three and a bit hours – if you’re lucky – via the G1 expressway; or two hours via one of the many scheduled high-speed trains from Beijing’s central railway station) head for the beach.  And today, a Saturday with temperatures here forecast to be ten degrees cooler than in the oven that is Beijing, Beidaihe is bulging with cars with “jing” number plates and local taxis ferrying Beijingers from the railway station.
 
  The most popular stretch of beach is the Tiger Rocks section, which costs 8 yuan to enter.  Here, people are packed together so tightly that the only sound that can be heard is the incessant Beijinghua-accented chatter of excited holidaymakers (with a sprinkling of Russian).
 
  If you have come to Beidaihe in search of the sound of the sea gently lapping onto the shore, then you have chosen the wrong beach.  But if, like me, you’re here for a bucket and spade day with a young child, then it’s the place to be. 
 
  And if you’re not quite at the bucket and spade life stage then, worry not, there are plenty of other beach things you can do with your friends (see photo).  Whatever activity you have in mind, however, make sure it doesn’t involve swinging a cat – there simply isn’t enough room.
 
  I was determined to get it from the horse’s mouth as it were – and hear why people, who live in a packed city of about 20 million, endure jammed motorways or a crowded train to be on a beach that would make a sardine feel claustrophobic.  As is often the case in China, the truth is stranger than fiction:  
 
  Mr Hu, a salesperson who worked in Chaoyang, Beijing’s central business district, put his finger on it:  “Here, I really feel free from the pressure,” said Mr Hu, as he took another swig from the bottle of Yanjing beer (Beijing’s favourite beer brand).  “I’m free to do what I like, when I like, without worrying about work or my clients… I can be myself.”
 
  I mused that the communal sense of this – thousands of people in the same boat (or, in this case, on the same beach), with most of their clothes off (stripped of the masquerade of suits and ties… and left with the essence of the “real them” as it were) somehow made the feeling of “liberation” that bit more intense.
 
  Mr Hu offered me a swig of his beer, as well as inviting me over to meet his mates from the city.  Alas, I had my bucket and spade duty to get back to, so had to decline. 
 
  It was a tempting offer though.  As I was walking back through the crowds, I came to the conclusion that wherever they are, whatever they’re doing, and whatever clothes they’re wearing, there are some things about Beijingers that will never change: their friendliness and wonderful generosity.     

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