China Calling: Finding your way

Day 3 in Beijing and I’m starting to love this city already. I haven’t seen that much of it, but so far it seems like a toolegittoquit big, authentic city that isn’t too unkind.

I suppose having never been here, and with Singapore’s hostility apprehension to PRCs, I was expecting dogs being barbecued on street corners and people being rude and mean. The little I’ve seen so far has been quite the opposite, with lots of people fussing over their pet doggies (friends not food) and locals being curiously polite about this foreigner. Yesterday I asked a girl for directions and she said, “I speak English only little. Speak slowly, please?” and eventually was able to help me out. Naturally, I fell in love with the girl at once.

My favourite thing so far is the subway. It’s massive, and fast, costs 2 yuan (SGD 0.4) per trip and is incredibly easy to use, even if you’re fresh off the boat from Singapore hopping into a train from the airport having never been to China before and holding on to everything you own.

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First view of the city from the Airport Express subway.
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Beijing Subway Map

The air is full of things (I’ve been told it’s pollen) and the smog isn’t great, but not as overwhelming as I thought it would be. Our apartment is 6 floors up with no elevator, so everyone’s heart and lungs are kept quite busy. Image.

It seemed like forever I was without Facebook, but VPN intermittently saves the day. I’m writing this at a nice cafe a short walk away from our apartment, and it doesn’t feel so far from home in more ways than one.

I wandered over to Tiananmen Square yesterday, and I love the fact that one can do things like wander over to Tiananmen Square. Touristy as it all was, the stories and history still overwhelm.

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Next Stop: Punk Festival and Roller Derby.

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