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Thursday, May 8, 2008
As the world knows, the 2008 Summer Olympics will begin in August. The Games of the XXIX Olympiad were awarded to Beijing, the capital of the People's Republic of China, on July 13, 2001, and planning began in earnest on that day.

It will all come to fruition on 08.08.08 at 08.08.08pm — the number eight is considered by the Chinese to be a very lucky number!

Some events will be held outside Beijing. Soccer will be in Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shenyang and Tianjin; equestrian events in Hong Kong; and sailing in Qingdao. Athletes will compete in 302 events in 28 sports.

The official logo of the games, titled ''Dancing Beijing'' features a stylised calligraphic character, jing, meaning ''capital'' in reference to the host city. The mascots are the five Fuwa, each representing a colour of the Olympic rings.

The Olympic slogan, ''One World, One Dream'', will possibly be put to the test more now than it ever has been since the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896. Controversies surrounding the host country are gaining international coverage, particularly the lack of human rights for Tibet and the horrific memories of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. However, the games will go on, records and hearts will be broken and the Olympics and Paralympics will attract countless millions of viewers right around the globe.

There will always be things to see and do in Beijing and Getaway checked out a few things of interest.

The Temple of Heaven covers an area of around 2.7 million square metres. It is the most holy of Beijing Imperial temples and is where the emperor visited every winter solstice to worship. It was built in 1420 during the Ming dynasty to offer sacrifices to heaven. It is enclosed by a wall which is semicircular at its northern end to symbolise the heavens. The southern part is square to symbolise the earth.

The temple is divided by two enclosed walls into the inner and outer parts. The best buildings are the Circular Mound Altar, Imperial Vault of Heaven and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. Other buildings of interest the Three Echo Stones and the Echo Wall. Almost everything is connected by a wide bridge called Vermilion Steps Bridge.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest has 28 columns divided into four central pillars to represent the seasons, 12 inner columns to represent the months and 12 outer columns to represent two-hour periods to make up a day.

Once forbidden to commoners, these days it is busy with locals from dawn each day. They perform their morning exercises from the gentle tai chi to the vigorous karate and the ancient martial art of sword fighting. It's also popular with kite flyers.

When Sir Isaac Newton built a nail-less bridge at Queens College, Cambridge in the 17th century, he may have been unaware that the Chinese had already used that principle at the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest some 200 years earlier.

If you're looking for some nightlife, at Houhai Lake you can hire a boat and enjoy dinner on board as you cruise around before jumping off to visit a night spot or one of around 400 bars. Of course, there are also karaoke venues.

Houhai is the city's redeveloped old town and there are so many bars and pubs with loads of character to choose from. Lights reflect in the lake and it has a real party feel.

Cafés and restaurants are individually owned and have their own unique style and service.

Rickshaws are a great way to get around. Some of the hutongs (small laneways) are too narrow for other forms of transport, and it's worth ducking into those lanes.

Originally used as transport for the social elite and pulled by a runner, they are now attached to a bicycle and adept riders dart in and out of traffic very easily. But it's a good idea to settle on the price you want to pay before hopping in!


The capital city of China.


The Temple of Heaven admission is around $5. Allow 90 minutes to enjoy it. It is open between 6am and 8pm.

Wendy Wu Tours has a four-night package in Beijing from $2500 per person twin share. It includes accommodation at the Grand View Garden Hotel, breakfast each day and return airport transfers. Valid between July 25 and August 31, 2008. Airfares are not included and are subject to availability.

Air China has flights to Beijing.

Fares from:

  • Melbourne $1326
  • Sydney $1343
  • Adelaide $1578
  • Brisbane $1583

Valid for travel until March 31, 2009. Conditions apply.

Prices correct at May 8, 2008

For further information

Wendy Wu Tours
Level 9, 275
George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 1300 727 998
Fax: (02) 9993 0444

Air China
21/123 Pitt Street
Sydney 2000
Ph: (02) 9232 7277
Fax: (02) 9232 7645


It is recommended travellers to China see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information visit

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User comments
I too have travelled to China on business many times over the last 10 years and I also agree with Richard Young and Aussie Dragon. I don't know of any other country that could have made a greater effort than China to meet the high standards set by the "West" as far as making visitors to Beijing and other parts of China welcome during the Olympics. China has planted millions of trees in this period to try and ensure a "green" games and people from all walks of life have learnt English. Many street and shop signs have been done in English so that "Westerners" can understand where they are and where to shop. There are clearly some restrictions on freedoms as we see them but the improvements in human rights have been astounding over the last 10 years. I would also say that the Asian philosophy of rights is older than that of Europe and centres on collective rights rather than individual rights. Which view is superior is debatable. Yes stop China bashing and give China a fair go!
Couldn't agree more with Aussie Dragon. I have lived here for 1 year and have nothing but praise for the Chinese advances. I, too, am tired of the ignorant criticisms of "human rights abuses" mainly originating from America and dutifully repeated by Australia. For goodness sake, Tienamen Square was 20 years ago!
Having lived in China for 3 years, I am dumbfounded by the China bashing that goes on from the West. This article says "the lack of human rights in Tibet". What are you talking about? Give me some examples! The Tibetan people have never been more better off than they are now. Their culture, traditions have been greatly preserved by the Chinese government. Before under the Delai Lama, they lived as serfs, and were beaten by their masters for no reason. They lived in utter poverty. Is that what you idiots want the Tibetans to return to?? The propaganda in the western media must stop. I bet the innocent deaths of Chinese people by the Delai Lama clique during the riots were never reported in the west. Free Tibet?? Tibet is free, and an integral part of China, always has been, and always will be!! Open your eyes Australia!

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