Beidaihe Resort in China

by Martin Williams

It might be visited by three to five million people each summer, and known throughout the world's third largest and most populous country, but outside China, Beidaihe rates few mentions other than when the leadership is in town. Full article at: Beidaihe resort in Hebei, China
            Beidaihe is an odd mix of genteel resort with echoes of European seaside towns in a bygone era, and brash playground for the masses, with spanking new hotels, restaurants, trinket shops, karaoke bars and fun palaces that have sprung up as the town has boomed since Deng unleashed China's economic reforms. Yet, while outwardly transformed, at its heart Beidaihe remains a small, rural town. (So how do you pronounce Beidaihe? `Bay die huh' is close, if you don't fuss over tones.)

I have been visiting Beidaihe for a little over a decade. Not for the beaches and fun palaces, but to watch birds. Lying near a confluence of flyways — which are like seasonal rivers of birds linking northeast Asia with south China, Indo-China, Australia and even east Africa — Beidaihe is one of the world's finest migration watchpoints, and I have spent thousands of hours scanning skies from hilltops, and hunting through the town's woods, gardens, gullies, fields, estuaries and marshes. I have known quiet days when the migration seemed becalmed by stable weather, days with birds in fair numbers, and occasional, outstanding `wave' days.