Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2010 Beijing Trip, Skiing

That's right, skiing in Beijing. We actually tried to go on a three day trip to Jilin, which is northeast of Beijing. There they have real mountains and ski resorts but it's too early in the season so we settled for indoor skiing. Sindy found discounted tickets (RMB168 per person including ski rentals) online so off we went.

The ski place is right outside of Beijing but still about an hour's drive away. Sindy didn't know how to get there so we took a bus. It was really windy and cold in the morning so we decided to drive to the bus terminal at Dongzhimen Station instead of taking the subway. This is the route map for bus line 915 express. The fare for the entire route was only RMB10 but since we had a transit card (I bought one a few years ago), it was only RMB4.

Bus 915 runs quite often and wasn't too full. Sindy says it fills up on Friday as all the workers from the surrounding rural area goes home for the weekend.

We had to transfer to a minibus somewhere on the outskirts of Beijing (beyond the 6th Ring Road) to get to the ski area. We told the ticket girl which stop we wanted to go and she deducted the amount from our transit card using a hand scanner.

The bus let us off at a stop near the ski resort; not sure why they didn't let us off at the front door since there was nothing else around. We had to walk ~10 minutes to get there... good thing we weren't carrying skis. You can see the two "runs" at the back of the building. I read somewhere that the longer slope is 260m long and the bunny slope is only 150m.

When we got there, there were only ~10 cars in the parking lot. Once you check in and pay, they give you a badge encoded with your payment information. The first station you come to is for lockers. You can change into your ski clothes (available for rent), put your shoes in the locker, and put on a pair of slippers. Next is ski boot rental, followed by ski rental. I had to check my running shoes to get the right size; they use European sizes in China (my US size 12 = EUR 45.5). I was a bit worried when they just gave us our skis with asking all the questions I'm used to hear (height, weight, ability) so they can adjust the bindings. They also gave me really short skis; I guess they don't want people to go too fast since the runs are so short.

They tried to mimic the look and feel of an Alpine ski lodge, I guess.

Looking up the larger slope. They didn't have real chair lifts but something equivalent to a t-bar lift. I have never used one of these before so it took a few tries before I figured out what to do. The downside is that you don't get to sit and after awhile, your legs get really sore from standing while being pulled uphill.

The top section of the longer run is slightly steeper than the bottom but still not too bad. Probably rates a low blue square in difficulty. The snow was hard packed since it's man made (obviously). The one problem with being indoors was the lighting was uneven; it was hard to tell if there were bumps or ice in the darker sections. On my second run down, I wiped out and smacked the back of my head pretty hard. My neck is all sore now... this is probably what it feels like to get whiplash in a car accident.

Sindy has been skiing a few times but never took lessons. I tried teaching her in Chinese but wasn't making much progress. We decided to get her a real instructor; they only charged RMB150 per hour. At the end of the hour, she was snowplowing well down the bunny slope.

Bunny slope. Instead of the "t-bar" type lift, there was a conveyor belt lift that brought you up slowly.

Basket where you deposit your slippers after putting on your ski boots. We left ~3pm (our whole day ticket was good until 6pm) and the place was more crowded. When we got there at 11am, there were only <10 pairs of slippers in the basket.

After skiing for ~3 hours, we had to walk back to the bus station, wait for the small minibus, which was packed with people, then transfer to line 915 back to Dongzhimen. There was a lot of traffic so we didn't get to Sindy's car until 5pm. Even then, it took her another hour to drive to my hotel and drop me off. I was so tired from skiing, the bump on the head, and jet lag that I crashed (after a shower) for 3 hours. She then came back to pick me up for dinner at her parents' house. I feel bad since I wasn't too hungry and her parents waited until 9:30pm for us to eat.

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It's now about 4pm on Thursday afternoon. Sindy had to go to work this morning so I've been in the hotel room blogging. I finally went down to breakfast at the hotel and the food was lame... even worse than Jinghu hotel in Chengdu. And what's the deal with warm OJ?!

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