A wonderful day in the neighborhood

Given the shortage of outdoor pictures in the last few entries, I took the camera with me on my errands today. No fancy tourist spots, just sights around my neighborhood.
This is Gongrentiyuchang Street, one of the major streets around here. It can get pretty busy at times, so there’s a pedestrian overpass, which is where I stood to take this shot. Many of the larger streets are set up like this, with several lanes in each direction in the middle separated by a fence, then a divider, sometimes planted with trees, and another lane on the outside. This lane is mostly used by bicycles, though pedestrians often spill out into it when the sidewalks are crowded. You’ll see cars there as well. Taxis are allowed to drive in the bike lanes if they have a passenger or are picking one up.
Just down a side street off Gongrentiyuchang is another very typical Beijing site. That’s the Workers’ Indoor Arena in the background. People have been sneaking their garbage into this lot, and it doesn’t smell very pleasant.
This is a little further down the same side street. This is a small restaurant on the left, and a little store on the right that sells a mixture of small goods. Bottled water is a popular item – even the locals don’t drink the tap water here. Note the little alcove in between the two stores. You see a lot of these. In the evening, there’s usually a cooktop of some kind set up there, and a person grilling chicken (or whatever) on sticks for passersby.
Moving further along the street, the sidewalk suddenly falls victim to the building craze. I don’t know what was wrong with the previous sidewalk, but a new one’s going in. This was Saturday afternoon, and you can see some workers in orange vests on both sides of the street. Pedestrians just make do with walking in the street.
Many major streets have pedestrian underpasses instead of bridges. This is the entrance to one. It was fairly dark under there, at least compared to out in broad daylight. Sometimes you find musicians busking in the tunnels. I think they like the reverberation of the tiled walls
If you go under here and straight across you get to this building, which we’ve nicknamed The Hypodermic Needle. It’s one building out of four in an office complex (I forget what it’s called), and the street level features both Starbucks and Subway.
Aside from groceries, I needed to pick up a few computer-related items, so I went back to the Wonderful Digital Jungle. I swear I did not choose this webcam because of the cats on the box – I picked it out from one out on the counter. I also bought a mouse for the laptop. Reading the sticker on its box makes me wonder a little who supplies these vendors. But only a little.

The Wonderful market is like many shopping areas here. Downstairs, below street level, is what they call a hypermarket, basically a supermarket that sells more than just food. I bought mostly vegetables and beverages – still a bit wary of the meats. As is typical here, they have a huge staff. Practically every aisle in the store has an attendant to help you find things. For the products on sale, they have women standing next to them calling out loudly, presumably calling attention to the great deals. As it’s a hypermarket, they also sell small appliances, clothing, and a small selection of CDs, DVDs, and books. It’s a very crowded and noisy place. I bought vegetables in shrink-wrap because they were pre-weighed and I wouldn’t have to deal with having someone weight them. There are about twenty checkout lines (and they have barcode scanners), but all of them are slow and the lines are long.

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