We’ve been in Beijing for a few weeks now, and despite years of saying ‘I’m not really a fan of Beijing, more of a Shanghai girl’, I actually love it. It probably helps that we’ve been really lucky with the weather. There have been more fresh-air days than not, and we arrived during Beijing’s short spring, so the temperature has been really pleasant.
1. THE STREETS
Beijing’s streets are quite different from Dalian’s streets. Wider, and made more with people in mind. The pavements are wide enough for a pushchair and there are even pedestrian crossings. Granted, the scooters and anyone in the inside lane don’t stop, but it’s still refreshing that the purpose is purely for pedestrians. Sure, crossing the road is still a challenge, despite a green man there’s always someone trying to run you down, but you get used to that.
The grid system in Beijing makes the city relatively easy to navigate, even as a newbie to the city. Knowing which way is North really helps you feel like you know where you’re going.
2. THE PEOPLE
So far I’ve found people in Beijing to be nice. They seem friendly, interested as ever in our little 混血儿 and love to chat. There are also many 外地人 out-of-towners here, making it all the more interesting. Our nearest fruit lady is impossible to understand, I gather she comes from 安徽 Anhui province.
3. THE FOOD
There are the restaurants everywhere, and lots of nice ones too. Just downstairs from our apartment there is a fabulous 24 hour cantonese place with dimsum which I’ve already been to a few times. I also see that restaurants often sell foods outside on the street in the afternoon, some even for breakfast too – really convenient to take something back to eat with dinner. There are some authentic Western restaurants too. I was very excited to find a doner kebab shop. As a Brit, having an M&S nearby makes me very happy. I ate hot cross buns at Easter and can get decaf tea and coffee for everyday use.
4. THE PARK
We live very close to a little park and it is great. Already it’s really enriched our lives. The majority of people in China don’t have any kind of garden, so I guess that’s one of the reasons the park is so popular. We go there most clear sky days, either for a walk after work or a morning jog. My MiL goes in the evening to exercise and says it’s still 热闹 well past 9 o’clock. There are so many activities as well, boats for hire, activity areas and small rides for children, a skating area, plus dancing/skating lessons and of course the large groups of older people doing aerobics.
I think we’re going to enjoy our time in Beijing, however long that may be. Now we’ve got into the rhythm of working we might get to some of Beijing’s famous and beautiful places too, before it gets too hot!
* EDIT: In a taxi last weekend driving to R’s training track, it suddenly occurred to me why I have always said I don’t like Beijing! It’s the 胡同 hutong areas. I’m not sure what it is about them, but we were driving through a 胡同 hutong area and I had that same feeling, that it was ugly and poor. Call me crazy, I know most people are charmed by their character, but I guess that’s not me. Perhaps the reason why I love our current neighbourhood so much is the view of the CBD and all the tall buildings (not dissimilar to Shanghai 😛 *