Walking in BJ

I walk around the city a lot.

I could probably have counted the number of times I had ridden in a taxi on my fingers before I came here, but since then it’s probably averaged almost once per day. Not that I take a taxi every day, but there are plenty of days with multiple rides to make up for the days with none. Given how cheap they are here, that’s not really a problem financially like it might be in New York, for example. But I’m just really tired of taxis.

I got myself a Beijing transportation card which is good on subways and buses, and I use both of those to get most places. But for shorter trips, say a half hour or less, I just walk. Like they say, ru xiang sui su. That’s the Chinese equivalent of “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

And I usually have my camera with me. Won’t you join me? (Why do I feel like Mr. Rogers all of a sudden?)
The trees here at Season Park are in bloom.
On the way to the office, I pass a shopping mall where lots of people just hang out, with or without their dogs.
I pass by the Dongzhimen Transit Center, still under construction. I don’t know why it’s so massive. Three subway lines cross underneath it, and about a hundred bus routes, but I have no idea what it will look like when complete.
Across the Second Ring Road from the Transit Center is this big office building, which I’ve photographed before, back when it was less complete:
That's from November 2006.
A little further along I pass through Nanguan Park, where the pond is half-filled. Notice the Fuwa standing on the water.
Even on a weekday morning there’s a fair amount of activity in the park. The guy with a music stand under the tree is playing a harmonica into a little portable amplifier and a few people are dancing to his music.
Continuing along towards the office, I encounter this deconstruction site. I ate at this restaurant only last week.
Here’s my building, with one of the newer tenants visible. Finally, decent coffee nearby. Obviously, this company is trying to emulate a certain Seattle-based multinational coffee company.

Then a day at work.

I’ve been pretty busy lately, so I sometimes go to a nearby restaurant called Beijing Pastry and Congee for take away.
Here are three filled pastries called xianbing, two with spiced ground beef and one with chopped vegetables, and a cold vegetable dish called haidai made of seaweed cut in strips with carrots, peppers and a lot of garlic.
That’s the bill. It comes to ¥10, about $1.45.
After work, I head for the subway station, where I see a new advertising campaign has taken over. In case you can’t make it out from the picture, the slogan is: Protecting Intellectual Property Rights And Promoting Innovation Development. It’s sponsored by the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China. Note to all foreign businesses: your IP is safe here now.
I get off at a stop across town and walk into a neighborhood. Dozens of vendors, mostly fruit and veg, are set up on the sidewalk along the little street, and the gathered shoppers made it pretty difficult for cars to get by.

I hear a little peeping noise and look to see what’s making it.
I’m not sure if the chicks are supposed to be pets or livestock or sale goods, but for the moment they’re Free Range Chicks. I don’t hang around to see if they ever make it back into the box.
The guy on the left is welding something on the sidewalk. The woman on the right is washing some vegetables for dinner.

I meet up with a coworker in this neighborhood. And speaking of dinner, we go to a fairly nice place.
That’s supposed to be half a barbequed duck, but it’s kinda small for a half bird, and seems to be missing some parts you would expect, but it tastes pretty good. The restaurant is having a special: for every ¥19 you spend, you get a free 600ml beer. As you can see, we qualify for three. In case you don’t know your metric system, those are big beers, about the size of two twelve ounce bottles each. We end up only drinking two – one of them is still in my fridge. They don’t complain when I carry it out.

To be honest, this is a composite day, consisting of events and pictures from about three different days in the past week. But I think it gives an accurate picture of my life here, straddling the expat world and the local culture. Tune in next time, when I'll condense all the seasons into one week and a decade into a month.


  1. And on a completely unrelated note, I was reading a post over on the SF site io9 and clicked on a link to an article reference. It wasn't until the page loaded that I realized it was a Blogspot site. And it loaded.

    Hooray! I'm accessible again! All those billions of Chinese netizens can now read my profound observations on their country.

  2. Really interesting views on a country noone seems to know anything about their lifestyle. I will reading you. Keep writing :-)

    P.S. (I just discover your blogspot through a comment on prognotfrog)