is perhaps the most glorious month in Beijing.
Beijingers will half-jokingly tell you there are
only two season in the capital - the smoggy,
sweltering summer and the dry, bitterly cold winter.
It is true that the mercury in thermometers in
Beijing jumps wildly in spring, going from not much
above the freezing mark to levels high enough to
encourage shorts and T-shirts in a few weeks, if not
a few days. And they drop just as far and as almost
as swiftly in the fall.
But in between these extremes Beijing is blessed
with two short, but absolutely fantastic, seasons.
May, when the city's parks and gardens suddenly turn
green and its cherry blossoms and magnolias bloom,
is fantastic. But October, when the temperature is
cool, but not yet cold, the leaves on the tree-lined
streets turn flaming yellow and the skies are often
clear and azure, is even more sublime.
The brevity of fall in Beijing only heightens its
appeal. October can arrive with Beijingers still
cranking the air conditioners in their apartments
and it can finish with the city covered by a
snowfall, and residents huddling under blankets,
hoping the city will turn on the central heating a
few weeks early. So, the weeks in between are
precious and not to be wasted.
October is the perfect month for Beijingers to wheel
out their bikes and go for a recreational spin up
and down the capital's broad avenues. The excuses
some residents offer for not biking in the summer
(too smoggy, sweating so much your hair gets matted
under your helmet and your pants get soggy) or in
the winter (dangerous icy roads, frozen toes, the
stinging wind biting your face) don't apply. Take
your two-wheeled steed and slip down some of the
city's winding hutong, sucking in some of the
freshest air you'll inhale in Beijing.
Or wander around some of the city's parks - clear
blue overhead and views of the western hills are a
wonderful complement to lakeside willows. The
elusive cool-but-not-too-cool temperature makes
strolling a joy.
In October it's still nice enough to dine outdoors
and it's a great time to sample the full range of
Beijing cuisine. It's cool enough that sweat
droplets won't be gliding down your face as you dig
into a hot pot, but still warm enough that a chilled
yoghurt-in-clay pot goes down with a refreshing
The markets around the city are bursting with fall
produce. Juicy persimmons, pears and apples beckon
from stalls or the back of carts and you can buy
bags of them for next to nothing.
Although October is the best time to enjoy Beijing,
it's also the best time to escape to its rural
outskirts. Those bright azure skies look even better
behind the Great Wall than they do downtown. The
Fragrant Hills are ablaze not just with yellows and
oranges but with the odd splash of brilliant red on
maple trees. The weather and temperature are great
for hiking and the views are splendid. Those not up
for scampering along the Wall can easily find as
much enjoyment in a simple jaunt or gentle bike ride
through the countryside. Rural Beijing in October is
filled with the bustle of harvest time - donkeys
loaded with chestnuts clopping down the road,
persimmons ripening to orange on the trees and
trucks laden with produce headed to markets.
Beijing winters can be long, so before you retreat
indoors take a moment, or better yet a weekend, to
savor the nicest month in the capital.
(Source: China Daily)