Imagine sitting on a miniature sled and gliding around a frozen lake, propelling yourself with two metal spikes, whizzing between small children on ice bicycles and tiny ice gondolas.
For a child of the subtropics like myself, frozen lakes and rivers are a fantastic spectacle, so on this trip to Beijing there was only one place I wanted to see: the frozen wonderland of Beihai Lake, where for an hour or an afternoon you can glide around the ice on a chair on skates, Chinese style of course.
Beijing can be a brutal place in winter – bitingly cold, densely polluted, shuttered and closed against the chill – but on the right day, it can also be stunningly beautiful. Out on the ice, surrounded by the madness and colour of hundreds of children on oversized cartoon character sleds and overshadowed by a gorgeous temple stupa, it’s as good as it gets.
Beihai – Details
Ice sledding is available every day through winter at Beihai (Wenjin Jie entrance), not far from the back of the Forbidden City.
Ice sleds start at 40 yuan for hire, for an hour or a whole day – basically as long as you can stand in the sub-zero temperatures (about an hour for most people).