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Beijing: My First Impression

May 21, 2011

I really did not have any expectation of what Beijing was like, as I did not know anything about it. Yes, I have been to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and GuangZhou, but it was for 2 days each and I heard Beijing is quite different from them.

Once I landed in Beijing, I was welcomed with good surprises. These are some of the things I observed in my first week here:

  • Non-English speakers do not know “supermarket”. I had to buy bath towel and dinner on my first day, and I was not able to find someone who knows where the supermarket is. Luckily, there is a small-supermarket right by the apartment complex.
  • Beijing is like a super-sized Singapore and Chicago combined:
    • The roads are wide and clean. The traffic is pretty neat.
    • There is a big Raffles City (Lao Shi Fu) with all the stores just like the one in Singapore
    • Not only there are all kinds of food from all over Beijing, but also Italian, American, Persian, Brazilian, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian, Indonesian, anything — you name it.
    • I have not only experienced a small portion of Beijing’s weather, but I was told that the summer can get really hot (like Singapore), while the winter really cold and windy (like Chicago).
  • Beijing has a population of 15 million. There are so many people that there are all sorts of fashion around. Well, not quite as eccentric as Japanese fashion, but I can find neat, cute, pretty, to trashy, flashy, you-shouldn’t-wear-it fashion here.
  • Food variety is amazing. KFC, 7-Eleven, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Bee Cheng Hiang, Cafe Nyonya, Little Italy, Haagen Dasz, … they are all here. Wait, did I mention scorpions, silkworms, beef tongue? Urgh.
  • Food is not cheap here. Small stores is pretty good (for my budget), about 8-15 yuan per dish. Restaurants are almost definitely about 20 yuan per dish. and since we almost always go in a group to restaurants, the cost per person is higher.

I took this photo from the Dongzhimenwai bridge. ThoughtWorks office is on the right-side, just before the right-most building on the picture.

Aside of exploring the town by foot, my weekdays have been so busy and exhausting. Today (Saturday) is quite relaxed, and I am looking forward to check out one of the churches in the area tomorrow.

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