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Honeymoon of Frans and Li-Xia
Part 3: Beijing

Saturday, November 6, 1993: Flying to Beijing

Today, we are married for one month. We got up very early after just have slept five hours. When we went outside the car was waiting beside the building. We said goodbye to Li-Xia's mother, and drove together with Xiao Xia and Xiao Zhong to the airport. Around a quarter past eight we were sitting in the waiting room. It is then still about an hour before the plane would take off. I had some problems with my stomach and had to use the bathroom in the airport. Luckily, there was an European type of toilet, but it was simply flushing all the time. There was even some toilet paper, but I also used some of the toilet paper we had brought ourselves. I took a pill and that made me feel better for the rest of the day.

Around nine we boarded the plain, a Tupolev 154m, with the identification number RA-85716. We are not sitting at the window, but the the weather is cloudy, so there would not much to be seen. Half an hour later the engines start-up, one by one, and ten minutes later we are in the air. It will be 2631 Km to Beijing. A little more than three hours later, we arrived in Beijing. It was hot and steamy. When we collected our lugage, I noticed that many people were collecting fruit boxes. Whether these boxes really contain fruit was not clear to me. The peaches from Urumqi are well known in Beijing. It also looked like we had the largest suitcases. When we came outside, two cars were waiting for us. One with Aunt, and one with the husband of a classmate of Xiao Zhong, who also happens to be called Xiao Zhong. One car took our lugage and we went with the other car. One car would not have been large enough. The traffic in Beijing looks the most safe compared with Guang Zhou and Urumqi, but still it looks very dangerous. I don't think that biking is such a good idea for us. The roads are wide, and the building look modern (I mean: not very old).

To use the new express-way between Beijing and the airport costed ¥10. A lot of money, but it also saves a lot of time. I noticed that the drivers reduced speed everytime new traffic entered from the right, as if they had not yet developed a "express-way" driving style.

The first thing we did after we arrived at Uncle Lin's place at the National Metereologic Unit, we arranged for the hotel. There is still a possibility we will be kicked out on the 11th. Then we stayed at their place for till the evening. Li-Xia first made some phone calls to all the people we are going to meet in the coming ten days. Of course, we showed them the pictures, and after one of their daughters arrived we watched the video together. They do speak some English, which gives me an opportunity to communicate with some Chinese again.

Our hotel room did have its own shower. Hot water is only on between 20:00 and 21:30. This is considered to be rather good for Chinese standards. We are only paying ¥75 per night, so we should not complain.

Sunday, November 7, 1993: Yuan Ming and the Summer Palace

This morning, we had breakfast with Uncle and Aunt and than we took the bus to Yuan Ming Lnadscape gardens. Through some friends, we had arranged some bus passes which are valid for one month and costed us ¥18. The Yuan Ming gardens were once the most beautiful in the world, but in 1860 they were destroyed by the French and the British (together with some other countries). They robbed all the treasures and burned down everything they could not carry. Many of these treasures are still in museums in Europe and never have been returned. We took some pictures at the ruins of a copy of a French building.

After this we went to Sushou Street and from there crossed the mountain to the summer palace. I was rather stunned when I saw the lake, because I had not expected to find a lake that size in Beijing. We walked around there for some time, and took some pictures. We also crossed the seventeen bow bridge. Then I felt like really being in China.

In the evening we had dinner with Uncle and Aunt again. Uncle Lin searched for a large map of Being, and he and I looked at it.

Monday, November 8, 1993: Fragerence Hill

We had a simple breakfast in the dinning hall of the hotel, then we took the bus to the road near the entrance of Beijing Zoo. There we had to wait some time for the bus that would bring us to Fragerence Hill, which is famouse for it red leaves. The bus took us on a long trip to the west, even going outside of Beijing. There we also many fields, with had a kind of greenhouses made of a low wall of earth going from West to East, with some frame covered with plastic in front of it. When we entered the park around fragrence hill, we did not immediately climb the mountain. First we walked in the direction of the South. And we came to the small house where Mao had stayed for some time, and walked through the shelter place (actually just a tunnel) made in the nearby mountain. From there we walked further into the park in the direction of the mountain. Slowly we climbed to moutain looking at the many special things that were to see. Finally, we reached the summit, which was about 300 meters about the lower part of the park, and we looked around there. Of course, there were some girls who wanted to be on a picture with a handsome foreigner. Although there was a simple cable going down, we decided to walk down along the path under the cable, which is on the North border of the park. Talking the cable costed ¥10 per person. We decided to walk down. But about half way our legs really started to hurt. Going down is at least as difficult as climbing up, we discovered. But we came down, and walked around a little bit. We also bought a few of the fake "red" leaves as a souvernir, and found a bus that could take us back into Beijing.

In the evening we had dinner with Uncle and Aunt, and around eight o'clock we went back to our room. Then Mr. Zhou visited us and stayed till ten o'clock. His parents-in-law only were interested in buying a large screen television set and otherwise nothing. It seems that a large screen television is the status object at the time, as everybody seems want to have one.

Tuesday, November 9, 1993: The tax-free shop

In the morning, we stayed at the place of Uncle and Aunt. Li-Xia made many phone calls to all kinds of people. She confirmed our return flight. Three people invited us over for dinner that night. We could only accept one.

Then we went of to the tax-free shop. If you stay abroad for some years, you have the right to import some good tax-free. But because this is not very convenient, there is a special tax-free shop where you can go to buy things tax-free. Li-Xia had the right to buy several larger and medium sized items based on her passport, but because we did not need anythings, we arranged for several people to come with us to this show, so that they could buy some things. First of all was there the other daughter of Uncle and Aunt with her boy friend, who were going to get married soon. They wanted to buy a medium sized television. Then there was Mr. Sun, with whoem we had lunch on October 28 in Urumqi. And finally Mr. Zhou.

We arrived at the shop at the end of the morning. Outside the shop, Li-Xia was immediately approached by some girl asking if she could buy some rights from her. (From the clothes Li-Xia is wearing, it is obvious that she has been abroad.) Mr. Zhou had brought two people with him: a lady who wanted to buy a washing machine and a man who wanted to buy a music center. (A good example of how the Chinese are trading with favours and establishing relationships in this way.) The TV Uncles daughter and her boyfriend wanted to buy, was no longer on sale. It took them a long time to make up their mind, as the other models were either too expensive or too simple. Finally, the decided to buy a video recorder instead. Now, that meant that Mr. Zhou could use the right to buy a TV. He immediately phoned them, to ask them what they like. Mr. Sun also decided to go for a TV. And the lady with Mr. Zhou wanted to buy the washing machine. We also looked around, and decided only to buy some small things: some CD's and some socks. Then around two everybody started to fill in the forms for the big items. On these forms, which you have to buy, you also have to fill in the serial numbers of the banknotes you are going to pay with. Everybody got in line to hand in the forms and to pay. We already had borrowed some money to every one except Mr. Sun, when one of his 100 dollar bills was rejected, and we had to borrow him some money too. We all were given a coin for the forms we had handed in. Then after some we were given a printout in return of our coins. With this printout we had to go to the otherside of the hall to a small ticket-window. After some time, we were given tickets in return, and with these tickets we could go upstairs to get the things we had ordered. (Watermusic/fireworks from Händel was playing on one of the CD-music installations.) Li-Xia wrote a letter to her mother and gave this together with four pair of socks to Mr. Sun. We said goodbey to him in front of the building. He gave us some bottles with some sauce and a leather document holder to me. He also gave us a bag with raisins for Uncle and Aunt. Mr. Zhou already had left. We took a taxi home, which costed ¥16 (about one Yuan per kilometer).

The rest of the day we just relaxed, and did not do anything special. Aunt had managed to buy some tickets for going to the Great Wall tomorrow. Li-Xia made some phone calls.

Wednesday, November 10, 1993: The Great Wall

We left early to the place where the bus would pick us up. The bus was almost empty when it departed, and we felt a little happy about it. While still driving in Beijing we came to a large round about on which there was a car parked on the inner lane. Some sweeping lady was walking around it, and when we passed the car (on the outer lane of the round about), I saw that the right front wheel was missing. (Sadly, I was not quick enough to take a picture of this.) At this same round about the bus stopped behind another bus. We were told we had to transfer to the bus in front of us. When we entered the bus, we saw that all seats were occupied. But then, by some trick, tip-up seats appeared in the gangway. Li-Xia and I had to sit behind each other, but we were on our way to the Great Wall, and that was what mattered.

Our first stop was at a reservoir which had some hand writing of Mao made in the stones because he helped building it. We were given the opportunity to look at a small exhibition about the construction. But before we continued, we had to take some rather "fake" ride under the reservoir. Supposingly, we went many meters below the lake, but actually, it was mostly falt and going to a small island. The theme of the ride was related to some lake god.

The next stop was the Tomb of the 12th Emperor in the Ming dynasty. We had to hurry, because the drivers had set a time when the bus would leave again. We also looked at some famous stones.

We went to another Tomb. Because it seemed rather boring we decided to wait in the bus. The driver did not state a time limit, but told people to be back soon. Because, no time limit was imposed, and lunch time was approaching, some Chinese decided they could take their time to have a lunch. Then after almost one hour, when the last were returning, carrying some food, the driver decided to drive away, and he made them run for a short distance as a punishment. We really had become a little annoyed by the whole delay. We went back the road we came en past the first thomb we visited. All very strange.

Not much later, we stopped at some restaurant along the road. It was rather messy place. There was only a ticket-window where you could order some boxes with food. It looked like the guests before us had just left their leftovers on the tables, and their was no personal for cleaning the tables. Li-Xia and I ate the food together.

Then we went on to the Great Wall. But we first visited a quite fake museum about the first emporer of China, who was responsable for building the Great Wall. It was just a series of rooms we a path leading through them. In each room there was a girl shouting through a megaphone some facts about the display, which was an arrangement of some life size dolls representing some scene from the life of the emperor. (No real artifacts were on display, so you could hardly call is a museum.) To my surprise there was even one bathing scene with nude woman dolls. Li-Xia heard many historical facts put int the right order for her. The real anticlimax was the exit, which was at the back of the building without a proper path leading to the parking place. Yes, why would you serve your customers once they are outside, and are not going to come back ever again. (It would not surprise me the drivers get money from the owners of all the attractions that we attended.)

It was only around three o'clock that we arrived at the Great Wall. Li-Xia wanted to buy two tickets for the cable going to the highest peak of the Great Wall, which costed ¥35 (25 to go down and 10 to go up), but she was told that I had to buy another ticket, because I was a foreigner. I had to buy a ticket at a different desk, which costed 75 FEC, and I had to take the VIP entrance for foreigners, while Li-Xia had to take the normal entrance. We met again inside. The cable was very nice, build by Japanese and French companies. We took many pictures on the well, and also got a certificate that we had been on the peak (costed ¥5 each). We also walked up to the 7th and 8th North towers.

Before leaving for home, we decided to go to the toilet near the parking place. There were two men sitting in a booth selling tickets for going to toilet, and about three meters further there was a man standing tearing our tickets and throwing them in a garbage can. At the entrance of the toilets we were greeted by a terrible smell. It seemed like the place had not been cleaned for months.

When we arrived home, we were informed that we had to leave the hotel on the 12th.

Thursday, November 11, 1993: Arranging a new hotel

We spend the whole morning looking for another hotel. Just from the window of the appartment of Uncle and Aunt you can see a big American style hotel, where rooms cost around 200 USD per night per person. But that is way above our budget. It is a rainy day today. We first looked at a hotel just outside the gate of the unit. They were full we were being told. Then Li-Xia phoned some friends and friends of Uncle and Aunt. Then around half past eleven some relative of Aunt found us a hotel for about 108 FEC per night. Several people, including Uncle and Aunt, offered us a place to stay, but we turned down those offers because we did not want to trouble anybody.


After we had lunch with Uncle and Aunt, we went to the city for shopping. Uncled showed me some books about the average weather for each month in China. He is one of the experts with respect to the climate of China, about which he also published a book in English together with some others. He is the final editor of a biweekly metereological paper in for all metereological institues in China. It has about 30.000 subscribers. Recently, he has been asked by the China government to give some advice with respect to which time of the year would be the best for holding a consensus. During the last consensus, some people died because of high temperatures, because it was held during the summer. He thinks that October would be the best time. Then it is not too hot in the far South, and not too cold in the far North.

From near the zoo, we took the trolley bus number 105 to the West shopping area. We went to several shops, and bought a trouser for Li-Xia and two woolen ones for me. We also bought two raincoats of a strong quality. Li-Xia also bought a pair of gloves and a pair of black shoes.

We had some fried chicken in a restaurant, and then we went home. Aunt made some spagetti for us. Then we played with the keyboard of Xiao Ping. I showed her some pictures and we talked a little, while Li-Xia talked with Uncle and Aunt.

Friday, November 12, 1993: Ten An Men

In the morning, aunt brought us to her cousin, Mr. Zhang, and he brought us to the hotel. They only had some cheap rooms left for ¥80 per night. We went upstairs to check them. At the desk there was again some problem with checking our papers. Especially, the interpretation of my visa took some time. They wanted us to pay ahead. So we went back with to get the money and collect some of our belongings. When we returned with the money, it turned out we had to pay some extra money per person per night. We got room 207.

From the hotel we took the underground to Ten An Men square. (Li-Xia used to stay with some friends, who lived just some blocks away from this very famous square.) We crossed the square and visited the Ten An Men building. We got some official certificate paper again, which looked quite nice. After this we visited the forbidden city. (Li-Xia went in on the first day it was opened for the public on New Years day 1977.) There were many Americans being guided around. We went out through the North gate. We crossed the road and climbed the mountain behind. From there we took several pictures in all kinds of directions. Then we went to the East shopping area. There we bought three books, two CD's and a map of Beijing in a bookshop. We walked further South and came across a McDonalds. So we went in to get some food. From there we took a bus to the West shopping area to exchange the blue trouser we had bought yesterday because it had a hole. Outside of the shop we bought two bags. A small one for Li-Xia and a larger one, a small back-pack for me. Then we decided to take the trolley bus 105 back home. It was very quiet in the this bus. From the Zoo we took a bus 16 for one stop to the metereological unit.

As usual, we had dinner with Uncle and Aunt.

Problems with our room

After we arrived in the hotel around eight o'clock in the evening, Li-Xia phoned for almost two hours with all kinds of people we are not able to visit anymore. Then when Li-Xia washed her hair, the hot water became cold, and as a result of this her head began to hurt. Then when I wanted to take a shower, there was no hot water at all. Also the heating was not working. So, we both felt very miserable. We both were home sick of this. I phoned the duty manager, and then Li-Xia phoned them. They switched on the hot water again, and I managed to take a shower, just before the hot water became cold again.

Saturday, November 13, 1993

Complainig about the room

This morning we decided to leave the hotel. And of course, when we told the management it turned out that there was a better room available. We checked it. Although it costs the same, it looks much nicer. So we decided to take it. So, we moved from room 207 to 105.

Lunch with Mrs. Zhou and Mr. Li

Today, we went to visit Mrs. Zhou and her husband Mr. Li. While Li-Xia worked with the Academica Sinica in Beijing she worked in the same deparment as Mrs. Zhou and they had rooms in the same building. The department is like a unit1, and thus has to provide a room for each of the people working at the department. However, some people, like Mrs. Zhou, also rent an apartment in another part of the city, and only use their room if they want stay overnight when they want to save the trouble of having to travel by bus. It happened that the apartment of Mrs. Zhou and Mr. Li was very close to the tax-free shop. Actually, the bus that we took stopped right in front of the shop and we met with the same two girls that asked for opportunities again. One of the girls recognized us, and asked if we had used all our opportunities. Looks like they come there often.

Mr. Zhou was very happy with our coming. We exchanged some gifts. She wanted us to buy some silk clothes, and gave us money for this. She immediately started cooking a lunch for us, although she did not feel very well. When she was ready, she had to lay down, because she was too tired. The lunch, dinner, I should say, was really very nice. I tried all the dishes, and like all of them. Afterwards, Li-Xia talked with her for a long time.

Collecting the boxes

Finally, Li-Xia contacted Zhu Hong, and then Mr. Li, Li-Xia and I took a taxi to the office of Mrs. Zhou where there were some boxes with the belongings of Li-Xia. The office of Mrs. Zhou was filled with instruments. I even recognized some from Li-Xia's pictures that were taken when Li-Xia helped Mrs. Zhou with some laser show project.

The boxes with Li-Xia's belonging were large and heavy. When Zhu Hong arrived, we loaded the boxes in his car, and went to Uncles place. Xiao-Hui helped us with carrying the boxes upstairs. The rest of the afternoon we spend unpacking the boxes and dividing the contents in four groups: to be thrown away (the biggest), to be given away, to be send home by mail, and to taken with us (the smallest). Most of the mathematics books we will send by mail. The language and computer books we gave to Xiao-Ping, who was very happy with them.


We had boiled sheep-meat for dinner. On the middle of the table there was a pot with boiling water in which the meat was boiled together with some other things. The meat was already pre-boiled, because we were with so many. The daughter of Mr. Ma (from Urumqi) had come together with her boy-friend. They had brought some things that she had left with them a long time ago when she was still living in Beijing. The daughters of Uncle and Aunt and some relatives also had come. After the dinner, I helped with the dishes and explained about the different cultures of dish washing in China and the Netherlands. Then the time had come that we had to go home. I carried Li-Xia on the bike of the daughter of Mr. Ma to the hotel, while she was being carried by her boy-friend. We said goodbey in front of the hotel. When we came in our room, my glasses became foggy because of the high humidity in the room. It was very hot in the room, and we immediately opened the windows. Now we also understood the cause of the mold on the walls.

Sunday, November 14, 1993: Meeting Mrs. Ge in the park

We met with Mrs. Ge in the park close to the Zoo. We had bought some cookies for breakfast and also some tea. We met with her around nine o'clock in front of the wark. Then we walked around. It is a nice park with many trees and little ponds. There were many people walking around. We sat down at some small restaurant and Li-Xia talked with her for a long time. Of course we also exchanged some gifts.

(My notes are not very clear about what we did during the day. It is possible that we visited Mrs. Zhou again and showed her the video of our wedding. I faintly remember that we took the underground to go there and on the way back.)

In the evening we visited Mr. Zhou and his wife and son. We showed them most of the wedding video. His wife prepared a dinner for us. When we took the bus back home it was very crowdy. It is always like this on Sunday afternoons, because everybody goes home after having visited their relatives or friends. Just when we were going to go of the bus on the next stop, a man behind me asked me in Chinese, if I were also going to get of the bus a the next stop. Somehow, I was not even aware that he was addressing me. It was so crowded that he wanted to find out whether he had to pass me, or could remain where he was standing now. Luckily, Li-Xia heard the question and answered it in behave of me. Not many Western people take the bus, so they expect that you do speak Mandrin if you are on the bus. Tourists always take a taxi. We visted Uncle and Aunt, and had something to eat again. We stayed rather lated and borrowed the bike of uncle to go back to our hotel. Li-Xia phoned with Aunt to tell that we arrived safely.

Monday, November 15, 1993

Today was our last day in Beijing. First we biked back to Uncle and Aunt, and then we spend the rest of the day doing our last shoppings. One of the things we did, was having our passphotos taken. We went to the shop that used to makes some off the official pictures for the government. The equipment used for taking the picture was an old-fashioned camera working with plates. For the lightning normal bubbles were used instead of flash-lights. So, the first time I did not notice that the picture was taken, because the lights just went on and I did not see a flash. Now the Chinese take pass photos in a different way than I was used to. They just use a frontal view, whereas the Dutch require a picture slightly taken from the left side of the face. Because I had not realized that the picture was already taken, I had not informed the photographer about this. So we had to bargain to let our passphotos to be taken again, for the same price. Luckily, Li-Xia succeeded in doing this.

We bought lots of small gifts in an art shop. We went to a bookshop and bought some cards, a calander and two books about Chinese caligraphy. We also bought some clothes. A trouser for Li-Xia and one for me as well. Li-Xia also bought a shirt. It was a real shopping day.

In the evening we went to Uncle's place for the last time. They had prepared some special Chinese dishes for us, and also some chicken. We said goodbey and Zhu Hong brought us back to the hotel.

Tuesday, November 16, 1993: Flying home

We woke up at 6 o'clock in the morning. Everybody was still sleeping in the hotel. To my surprise there were some people sleeping in the entrance hall of the hotel. Zhu Hong brought us to the airport. Around 8:20 we went in. Especially checking the passports took a long time. In the waiting room near the gate there was a lot of confusion. We had gone down to this waiting room by means of a escalator, but there was no escalator going up, and also no information sign telling us that this was indeed the right waiting room. So everybody was asking everybody if this was the right gate.

Our worries were cleared when the monitors finally gave us the information we needed. In the waiting room where people gathered for several fligts, which were to be taken to the airplanes by means of buses. There were both Western (for the flight to Kopenhagen) and Chinese people (for a flight to some place in Asia). When it was announced that the other flight could start boarding, within seconds a big croud formed in front of some doors. The doors were opened and closed again when a bus was full. At one point people started to shout when the doors were closed. Not much later, it was announced that we could start boarding, and everyone walked very quitely to the doors leading to our buses. When we got in our bus, some official came to catch a lady which in her hurry had ran into the wrong bus. The obvious difference between how the Western and Chinese behaved, definitely prove how chaotic traveling inside China usually is. Apparently, there are reasons for a Chinese person to fear that a bus, a train, and even a plain might leave without waiting for all passangers with a ticket to board.

Our plane left 10 minutes later than planned. For some reason, Li-Xia and I both felt relaxed in the plane, knowing that we were on our way home, and that we had not encountered any serious troubles during our honeymoon. The rest of the trip home went smooth, except for a small glitch concerning our reservation for the flight from Kopenhagen to Amsterdam, which was resolved in a matter of seconds. In Amsterdam, my parents were waiting for us, and they brought us home. We unpacked our suitcases and showed them the pictures.

The End


  1. October 9, 1993: Schiphol - Kopenhagen flight SK552B with SAS in a DC-9-41, the Sote Viking, seat 14A.
  2. October 9, 1993: Kopenhagen - Hong Kong flight SK991 with SAS in a Boeing 767, the Gyda Viking, LN-RCD, seat 25G
  3. October 15, 1993: Canton - Urumqi, Xinjiang flight XO9302 with Xinjiang Airlines in a Li-86. Departure time 14:15. Take-off at 17:24, more than three hours delayed.
  4. November 6, 1993: Urumqi - Beijing flight XO9101 with Xinjiang Airlines in a TY-154m, the RA-85716. Departure time 9:15. Take-off at 9:41.
  5. November 16, 1993: Beijing - Kopenhagen flight SK996 with SAS in a Boeing 646, identification number SE-DOC, seat 23D.
  6. November 16, 1993: Kopenhagen - Schiphol with SAS in the Ottar Viking, SE-DFY.