While I really arrived four days ago, it has been a very busy weekend teaching at the college, and I am now at my first break. Today I will be visiting the 798 Arts District with the camera, and hope to get some really good pictures. Like most international travel there are things you wish you knew before you got there, most of us travel on a budget, so here are some interesting things that are worth knowing that you should plan on just in case.
- The hotel charges upfront for “incidentals” to the tune of Yuan 200 a day, and depending on your exchange rate that is anywhere between 30 and 40 dollars a day that got sucked out of your pocket. While they will return it at the end of the trip if you didn’t use anything in the hotel room, there is still a lock on your credit card for that amount, or if you paid in cash, you are out of pocket that amount of money. Plan on this one.
- Beijing in summer is hot, darn hot, so I have been literally sweating through my clothes just about every time I go outside for a walk. Bring lots of clothes or figure out the hotel laundry, you will want to use it especially if you come from a cooler climate like I do. It is interesting that I have not seen anyone in China sweat as much as I do, so I have no idea what cultural taboos or norms I am breaking by sweating through my clothing. It is really gross to do this by the way.
- Chinese people are wonderful and have been very helpful throughout my trip getting the small bumps smoothed out. For that alone this is an amazing place to visit.
- Beijing is a city, a huge city, your hotel is not Beijing, you need to get out and see what wonders this city provides to the American or Western tourist. I have walked down a lot of smaller side streets on my way to and from the hotel to the college, not on the main roads, and my best discovery is a 7-11 about three blocks from the hotel where you can purchase 2 bottles of diet coke and 1 bottle of water for 3 Yuan. In comparison, the bottle of water in the hotel is 30 Yuan. Big difference in spending if you do it outside the hotel.
- Chinese TV is amazingly funny, you will see some of the best Kung Fu movies ever, and while they are in Chinese, hey it is a Kung Fu movie, you don’t really need to understand the words because the action and story line are apparent to the observer. It seems like there is a continuing stream of Kung Fu movies on TV all the time.
- They also play a lot of stories centering on the Monkey King and Pig Boy, I don’t know the mythology, but I am going to learn it. The good part is that you can pick out that this is the monkey king and pig boy without understanding a word of what is being said on TV.
- Finding Soda is difficult, finding water and fruit juice is not difficult.
- Street food vendors are only open in the early morning or late in the evening, but worth watching them do their thing.
- Whole families will gather on the sidewalk outside and eat dinner, that is pretty cool to see as everyone either sits in a small folding chair they brought, or sits on the sidewalk and they share this amazing looking meal with each other.
- The food is radically different than what we think Chinese food is in the states, and the difference alone is worth the trip. It is not as sweet, and the cooking is very different. It is worth eating in a large group Beijing style, and don’t ask too many questions about what the food is. I ate food I could not recognize, and it was pretty good.
Not a lot of pictures at this moment, but I did have a chance last night to go to the Olympic Sports Stadium and take some pictures. This is the only place I have found in Beijing that is not crowded with people, and it is really kind of sad to go visit. It must have been a wonderful experience in 2008, but it is slowly running down and in a few years might become of the more interesting abandoned places for urban exploration. It is free to get in and wander around, no one minds the camera.
Beijing, Beijing China, China, Hotel, Kung Fu, Martial arts film, United States