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When the big freeze hits Beijing, head south

By Chris Kudialis | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-01-14 10:17

I struggle with bearing the frigid winter temperatures, and I know I'm not the only one.

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan and felt I had "paid my dues" with enough six-month seasons of sub-zero temperatures in my youth. So at age 23, I moved out to the hot, cozy Las Vegas desert, only to find myself back in the brutal winter climate of Beijing seven years later.

But that's what makes the large size and varying climates of China so unique. If I'm savvy enough, I don't have to endure the Beijing cold in its entirety. A variety of planes, trains and buses make seeing warmer parts of China an accessible and convenient reality during weekends.

Take Shenzhen, in southern China's Guangdong province, for example. During a chilly December weekend in which Beijing temperatures fell under 5 C, I enjoyed a morning road race in perfect 22 C conditions. The day before, I toured a beautiful park and ate outstanding local food. And while I had to return to Beijing for work on Monday, my friends with me on the trip spent an extra night on the beach and exploring the city's popular Nanshan district. Transportation for the trip cost some 2,000 yuan ($290) round trip and our hotels about 500 yuan per night. Not too bad for a weekend getaway.

Closer to Beijing, there's Shanghai, where trains and flights are even cheaper than southern China. For as little as a 1,000 yuan round trip, travelers can trade the capital's frigid weather for Shanghai's mild 13 C temperatures. Even better, it takes less than three hours by plane and under five hours by high-speed train.

Other places still on my winter-getaway wishlist include Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao, Hainan province, Yunnan province and Chongqing. I'm pretty sure all of them are accessible at some point by flights costing under 2,000 yuan.

Each of the above destinations offer their own slice of culture, history, tourism and hospitality. I'm not going to pretend to know in detail all of the attractions in each respective city yet, but I can say any experience this time of year would trump the weather most people will experience in Beijing for the next three months.

So many places, so little time. I'll follow up in future columns with my travels when I make each trip this winter. As the cold here in Beijing persists, I'm sure I'll grow increasingly anxious to seek sun and warm temperatures over the weekends. First on the list is Macao, then Taiwan and Sanya, Hainan. Everything else this winter is a bonus.

If there's any other perks of Beijing's cold weather, it gives motivation to stay indoors and catch up on work. The city's myriad fitness centers are usually cozy enough for some exercise, too, so you're not stuck running or biking in freezing temperatures.

As I'm writing this, the Beijing weather has hit-7 C. It's not even that cold in Detroit right now. But next time you hear someone complain about Beijing's cold, just remind them they have plenty of options to not just survive here, but enjoy the warmer and equally beautiful parts of China, too.


Chris Kudialis



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