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Beijing – the reunion after 23 years – complete confusion!

“Beijing – återseendet efter 23 år – ren förvirring!” was first published on my Swedish Blog.

After having spent a couple of days in Beijing I postponed my flight to Guilin. I realised 2 days wasn’t nearly enough for everything I wanted to do in the city. Plus, I didn’t really feel like stressing around, just to arrive to Yangshuo like a complete wreck.

 

Besides I had a bad case of jet lag 🙂 Constantly tired! Except when it was bedtime!

 

So I’ve been wandering around the city until almost fainting (basically every day!). First day I went to look at Wangfujing, where I believe we stayed back in 1994. However this is unclear, it might’ve been a completely different street we stayed on. I did not recognise anything…

 

But that also might’ve been due to the same sickness affecting me when I revisited Koh Samui after more than 10 years! The only tiny sign I actually was on the same island was Big Buddha, who by the way had gotten more attributes on his golden body!

 

Anyhoo…

 

Wangfujing today is full of flashy stores (it might’ve been 23 years ago too?) – the first I saw was of course APPLE STORE!!! Went inside to hear about the most exciting news I’ve heard in a long time – iPhone X!

 

wangfujing

 

And then the Swedish mega giant mainstream H&M as well as Spanish brand Zara showed up on the street and it didn’t feel quite as exclusive anymore… 😛

 

 

The entrance gate to famous Wangfujing snack street, where really disgusting live creatures were sold on sticks… 😦

 

 

I strongly suspect I was drugged or in another way unreliable when I was here in 1994 (or my memories of the city might have been tainted by the pink colour glasses), because what did I actually write a while back:

 

Rent a bike in Beijing – so nice and comfortable to cycle through the city – hardly any traffic either!

 

Hardly any traffic?? OMG… all I see is traffic… I never rented any bike, but I did challenge my claustrophobia and took the subway a few times, sometimes I did have my regrets, but mostly it went very well – no full-out panic attack and hardly any hyper ventilation at all going on.

 

Not even that one time I travelled in the rush hour! Pretty proud of myself!

 

It was very simple to travel by subway in Beijing too, unless you could make the ticket-selling-lady understand you. She didn’t understand the english: “Forbidden City”, but when I tried a lousy pronunciation of the subway station: “Tiananmen West”, she got it. I was amazed she understood me!

 

 

To get from my hotel to the Forbidden City I had to change 2 times, so I travelled on 3 separate subway lines. It was however fool proof: every time you entered a train there were clear signs on both sides of the train station where the train was going, and when getting off, there were clear signs to show you where to go to change line. Inside the train were clear signs with blinking lights to show you where you were and where you were going. Fool proof!

 

All names were in both Chinese and with English spelling – perfect!

 

Besides the tracks were closed with glass doors – and this is awesome. I’ve only seen this in a couple of places in Sweden, but every station had them here!

 

It was only the first time I travelled with the subway I bought the ticket with a lady who didn’t understand me, the rest of the times i bought the ticket through a ticket machine, which was waaaaay much easier! 😀

 

Mostly I found it easier to take the subway in Beijing than getting a taxi!

 

The taxi drivers didn’t really want to speak to me, and I suppose it was because they are shy and scared of me since I was speaking English. It probably wouldn’t have been an issue had I spoken Chinese.

 

I remember walking and cycling in Beijing the first time around, one or few times we took a taxi, which back in the day was only 10¥ which in our minds were scandalous! But I don’t remember a subway…

 

Beijing is a quite lovely city, much bigger than I remember from the 90-s, and so much to see. The air quality isn’t as much as a catastrophe as you hear, I didn’t experience any breathing problems (!), sure there are apps to check how bad the air really is before you go outside, and the air quality is even added in the regular weather app for iPhone. From what I can remember from the 90-s I experienced Xi’an had much worse air quality. And I do think Bangkok at times can be worse too!

 

The only thing I found a tad negative was I saw those much had been restored and rebuilt. For example, where I lived by Qianmen Street – an old street from old Beijing, BUT everything was quite new! All buildings were completely new and looked new, built in an old style of course, but still, brand new. Nice, well yeah, but it kind of lost its charm.

 

police car

The cutest police car I’ve ever seen…

 

dashilan

Outside my first hostel were this famous touristy place. Dashilan… 

 

Below is outside my second hotel where I moved after a couple of days in the city: “The Emperor Beijing Qianmen” (really great hotel!), which was located on a hutong-cross-street of Qianmen Street. The statues on the right were everywhere, and are apparently a celebration to the worker class.

 

qianmen street

 

During the weekend there were just too many people here, and hard to get a seat at any restaurant, even though I was only 1 person! It was also quite hard to make yourself understood, which ever day it was – I was lucky most of the restaurants had images of the food on their menues, some even had English translations (if at times non-understandable!), but most of the people could not speak to me. So it was a bit of a hassle… 🙂

 

 

This time I didn’t have time to visit any old hutongs, so I’ll save those for next time. Something to look forward to… 🙂 I feel I have so much left of Beijing, so I hope for many more visits to the city…

 

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2 Comments »

  1. I enjoy your blog. I think you are culturally narrow, as Swedes mostly are, but in a delightful way. I note you responded to a person who commented on your thoughts on white men, by denying that Sweden was an extremely rich country. Indeed, you are right. But when I was a boy, all we would hear about was the “Swedish model” and how retrograde the USA was and how poor the blacks were. Indeed, today, the blacks in the State of Mississippi are on average richer than the average Swede, but we don’t hear about the “American Model”!
    As to “white men”, I have rarely met a white man who would not have preferred in principle a white woman. But white women today, do not have to get married to have someone to support them – the State will – even in terms of having children. That is their choice. Accordingly, white men, particularly the lesser sort, cannot get anyone. So your advocacy against them is very sad. It is as if you said that they must be celibate, because white women don’t want them. That is not a reasonable position – particularly since you expect the same white men to support young women through taxation who want nothing to do with them. Unless – of course – you tell me that you are against the welfare state.
    The reason that the discarded men of white countries are popular in the East is simply that they have more money and are – you may be shocked – less demanding than young men of their own race and class. I appreciate that large age differences offend you, but if you think about it rationally, it is the same sort of objection that was swept away when the laws against pornography were in substance repealed in Scandinavia. In English, we say, that “Puritanism is the fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time!”
    I am fully with you on Jante’s law. But realize that you have crossed the Rubicon. To me, Jante’s law is what explains Sweden and is at the core of what being a Swede is. I profoundly disagree with it, but then I am not a Swede.
    I wish you every success in China.

    • Thank you for your comment and your many thoughts.

      I wanted to respond to some of your thoughts, since I feel you are being overly cynical, by referring to ”white men’s” only use for white women would be supporting them financially; there are so many more reasons why a modern woman would want a man. I do not wish to be supported by anyone, but I do want someone to share my life with.

      The welfare state has nothing to do with my ”advocacy against these men”, neither am I being offended by the age difference. Large age differences do not bother me at all! Love has no age. This whole thing with some white men going to lesser richer countries to buy a wife, lover, companion or whatever they want her/him to be is to me disgusting for one reason only – the trade of human beings. We are not talking anymore about older white men who are discarded by white women, yada yada, today the industry is much larger, as I also wrote in one of the blog posts. Today, young men, who are nothing but discarded, are going to Thailand, buying a prostitute on a bar, because of one simple thing – they can! It’s even on their bucketlist! That to me is disgusting, and it is taking advantage of another human being, which I will never be fine with. I am also a firm believer that you should never do anything on vacation that you can’t man up to when at home, so if you don’t go out buy yourself a prostitute in your own hometown, then don’t do it elsewhere. Simple.

      I have Thai friends – women – with great jobs, with well paid jobs – who were approached by white men asking them “How much?” Somehow, somewhere down the road, it seems as though plenty of white people believe all women in Thailand are for sale! To me, this is alarming, and it should be to everyone.

      I know white men are popular in Thailand (from where I base most of my thoughts and feelings about this topic), and Swedish men in particular. They are known to be nice to the girls/women. But I know someone, who used to be close to me, who brought home several of such girls, and discarded them when they became too independent. Sent them straight back home! Unfortunately he is not unique, when it comes to how he treats his Asian ladies.

      Yes, it may be I’m too judgmental, but I’m merely a perfectionist wanting the world to be a utopian place where nobody’s getting hurt, and equality for all. Impossible, I know. Doesn’t mean I can’t strive for it… We all need a more caring world, don’t we?

      I’m not really sure what your quote about puritanism is about; if it’s an insult to me suggesting I’m a puritan because I don’t condone the behaviour of using other human beings. On the other hand, it might be I’m overthinking it, and your comment was just a reference I didn’t understand. English is after all not my native language.

      Lastly, thanks for wishing me success in China, I hope the time I spend here will give me some peace of mind and soul, which is the whole purpose of me being here. And getting some space from Jante, then of course… That is always a bonus!

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