***Click on picture for bigger & more colorful image***#1 What better picture to represent China than the Great Wall? It was a cold arduous climb but well worth it. #2 Another view of the Wall. #3 It was real icy cold and this monk-like figure was just huddling down against the strong wind. #4 A bird's eye view from a vantage point. #5 This is the Emperor's throne and commoners like us would'nt dream of ever seeing this 200 years ago. #6 A little girl all wrapped up against the cold. #7 The Summer Palace is reserved for royalties only. #8 A half-frozen lake. #9 View across the half-frozen lake. It took me a number skips, hops and dashes to get the figure of the man perfectly framed by the arch of the bridge. I think the effect is well worth the effort. #10 Long “beardy” trees are a common sight. #11 In a few more days, this lake will be totally frozen. #12 A Mandarin duck having an evening swim. These ducks are supposed to come in pairs but in real life, they're not so cooperative. #13 A walk through the Temple of Heaven. It was a dream excursion as we were not just “lectured” on the history of the place but shown the actual artifacts. It was really history-come-alive. #14 These cyclists are having a race of their life. I sat on the floor taking pictures of this trio as they got nearer and nearer to me. At a distance, they looked quite menacing as they bore down on me. I held my ground as they were almost on top of me. Fortunately, they were just 3 elderly folks chatting along as they enjoyed the ride along this huge open space. #15 A jade mastercraftman. It looks fairly easy to carve a work of art out of a piece of stone right? Not. It took years of practice and not all can do it well despite the years of toil. #16 Nothing like the warmth of a father's love. On a trishaw ride in the streets of old Beijing, father and baby appeared was like a breath of fresh air amidst the dull and dreary surroundings. It was a quick shot that thankfully captured the image nice and sharp. Luck was on my side that day. #17 The National Icon in action. Frankly, I was disappointed with the set-up and the listlessness of the pandas. I thought a more attractive and nicer living quarters would be a more pleasant proposition for both animals and visitors. #18 A cat getting cold feet? It was incredibly cold despite the sunshine and I was already dashing for the warmth of shelter when this kitty caught my eyes. Taken at the Great Wall. #19 Now where's the rug and where's the dog? This doggy is a house pet in a home at the old Beijing houses. I almost missed spotting it unless it raised its head in silent greeting. #20 Finally, here's wishing all of you a Happy Merry Christmas 2012. I used to collect Christmas cards like look like this. What this one needs is a touch of gold and silver glitter to complete my childhood picture.