Christmas in Beijing can be a rough exercise when your turkey is a duck and your ham a stanked up rubber sausage. It's a time of the year when we all tend to pine for the folkloric wai guo just a trifle more. It's okay – it's natural. But you know what? So too are the deep green, spindly totems of Western peculiarity we've kindly featured below.
Read on for some great real, fake and wacky trees in the 'Jing, and transport yourself to a place where a cackling octogenarian whips a bevy of bewitched reindeer through a silent night sky.
As far as real Christmas trees go, Liangma Flower Market
(亮马花卉市场) is quite simply unbeatable. Pine tree merchants run the show from the entrance, with their impressive inventories split into local Chinese and imported American pine trees. The local Chinese pines are noticeably dimmer in colour but far more affordable than their American counterparts. With no perceivable gaps in structural integrity, the Chinese breed is a winner for those feeling the financial pinch of the season.
If you're after something smaller (an office tree, perhaps?), make sure to head on inside the market. There, you'll find a swag of miniature pines, potted and decorated by cheery-cheeked vendors and all at runaway prices.
Decorations are located upstairs on level two, and come in all kinds of wonderful shapes and sizes. Small baubles start at a singular 1RMB and climb to 25RMB for a larger bauble that doubles as a snow globe.
How did it even get in there?
Chinese pines start as low as 130RMB for a 1-1.3m tree and max out at 1500RMB for a 4m tree, which is a mighty tall tree indeed. We reckon something around the 2m mark is optimal, which is available here for a very reasonable 450RMB. If you're hell-bent on that American number, prices for a 2m pine begin at 2,000RMB. Of course, this is all subject to the strength of your haggle game. Oh, and they deliver for free!
A crisp winter's stroll past an embassy or two on Tianze Lu to the mouth of Ladies' Street
(女人街), and you've arrived at Beijing's best store for fake trees. You're looking for a shop creatively named 'Convenient Supermarket' (便利超市) with, you guessed it, fake trees out the front.
Inside, you'll find all kinds of synthetic trees, with prices starting as low as 50RMB for a fairly respectable plastic shrub. If you're chasing something a little more auspicious, at the back of the shop you'll find gold and silver trees all dressed up in Gongti megaclub-esque ravey flashbulbs.
More like Christmas tree-son
This shop also boasts amazing Christmas-themed scenes, such as this majestic combination-snow-blowing-window-with-festive-glimpses thing.
This was sadly 580RMB, or it would be sitting in our office right now
The bottom line? Sure, if you feel bad about uprooting a living thing and fake trees are your tacky jam, by all means, snap one up. Keep in mind though that a 1m gold tree comes in at roughly 380RMB, while the 2m generalissimo fetches a whopping 980RMB.
Go on, it's Christmas, tree-t yourself!