Beijing, Winter '23, Day 14 - Skiing with a side of Dumplings

Published by Bill Glover on

This post is part of the Beijing Winter 2023 series.

We are back in Beijing after a short break further north. This was our first family skiing trip, three days at the Thai Woo ski resort outside of Chong Li (崇礼区) in Hebei (河北). Chong Li was the home of skiing at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Much of the infrastructure remains, including a fast rail link from Beijing. But, as with many Olympic projects, significant portions of it appear abandoned.

Our eldest preparing to ski down from the hotel on our first day.

Our eldest preparing to ski down from the hotel on our first day.

We aren’t a skiing family and none of us have experience of other ski resorts. This was as much an introduction to skiing as it was an introduction to skiing in China. I struggled to find any recent information on the resort or the hotel before we travelled. As for skiing, we didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t know what we needed. With that in mind this is what stood out:

  • Accessibility by train from Beijing is good but infrequent.
  • The resort targets the local (Chinese speaking) market.
  • Information on equipment hire, passes, lessons, lockers, was only available in Chinese.
  • You can expect to pay double if you’d like a bi-lingual instructor.
  • The off-season (during Chinese term time) is busy with overseas Chinese.
  • Range-Rover sponsorship and VIP tour groups can dominate any queues you need to join.
  • The resort felt busy but not crowded over Christmas.
  • Children pay next to nothing to ski.
  • Bring your own child care if children aren’t skiing.
  • Temperatures were -24ºC at night while we were there, so expect ice.
  • We stand at the Park Fleet Hotel. I’d stay again but mattress was way too soft.
A view of the slopes at Thaiwoo.

A view of the slopes at Thaiwoo.

We paid for two days with a Chinese speaking skiing instructor. It didn’t take me long to realise my Chinese isn’t good enough to bluff my through skiing lessons. It didn’t stop me trying though. When my first question was to ask our instructor how to say “ski” (the noun) in Chinese we both knew we were going to have fun. I’m grateful for the fact that he refused to let me nod and I understood. He was incredibly persistent and, with the help of a few drawings in the snow, was able to get me skiing down a few slopes. It was also nice to see him pick up on the way my eldest likes to learn and build his confidence. Given the language barrier, we couldn’t have asked for a better instructor. We loved skiing and all want to give it another go.

对不起,我的看起来像阿尔及利亚。 I’m sorry mine looks like Algeria.

对不起,我的看起来像阿尔及利亚。
I’m sorry mine looks like Algeria.

Returning to Beijing, we returned to home cooked food and a meal that is a hit with all the family. Dumplings are a family occasion, with everyone (bar our youngest) helping to make them. Working together you can end up with a couple of hundred dumplings in no time at all. No two fillings are ever the same, no matter how hard you try. The quality and freshness of ingredients plays a huge role in the flavour. There’s nowhere to hide.

The best thing about dumplings though, is they are a hit with the whole family. They’ve been a solid feature in the weening of both boys. They’ll remain on the family menu for some time to come.

Try making hundreds of pieces of dough all the same size.

Try making hundreds of pieces of dough all the same size.

You are on the right track when they hold their shape before cooking.

You are on the right track when they hold their shape before cooking.

Chopsticks essentials include transfering dumplings from one plate to another.

Chopsticks essentials include transfering dumplings from one plate to another.