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Author Topic: Beijing  (Read 4756 times)

decurso

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Beijing
« on: February 06, 2008, 04:58:36 AM »
 Others on the forum have lived in Beijing longer than me, so my entry will focus mostly on my personal opinions of the city and my neighbourhood. For obvious reasons I will skip an introduction to the city.

 What I really like about Beijing is the overwhelming ammount of choices. Every foreign amenity is at your fingertips. Cheese(the standard of western comfort in China) is almost as common as noodles, and the selection of western bars and international restaurants is better than that in many North American cities. There's live music, theatre and sports 7 days a week.English books can be found just about everywhere.On the other hand, if you want to live an entirely Chinese life and eat 4 yuan noodles in hole-in-the-wall dives you can do that too.

 Beijing also has more points of interest than any city in China. The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, The Temple of Heaven, The Ming Tombs...it's all here. The shopping and night life are second to none.

 The down side is Beijing covers an area roughly the size of Belgium and commuting is a real bitch. It's pretty easy to drop 60 kuai on a taxi ride. While the metro provides cheap, convenient transportation, many trips can take up to an hour, which is an eternity when you're pressed ass to ass with  2000 of your new best friends. The pollution is terrible and the dry, freezing winters are borderline unbearable.

 I live in Haidian, which is in the northwest of the city. It's worth writing about here for two reasons. first, if you take a University job in Beijing, this is where you will likely be living. Haidian is home to a dozen universities, some of which are considered the best in the country. Second, it is where most of the Olympic events will be.

 The center of student and night life in Haidian is Wudaokou. Although a fairly small sub-district by Beijing standards, it's packed with pubs, international restaurants,English language movie theatres, DVD shops, clubs, foreign goods stores and cafes. In the summer there are also some pretty rowdy BBQ stands around the metro station.

 Another sub-district worth mentioning is Zhongguan Cun, which is known as China's silicon valley. The ZGC Pedestrian E-Plazza is a staggering collection of skyscrapers selling every kind of electronic goodie you can imagine. There's also a gigantic underground shopping center with pricy name brand clothing stores and a Carrefour. some good restaurants can be found in this area as well.

 Haidian is also the center of the music scene in Beijing. 13 Club features live metal every weekend and neighbouring D22 hosts more eclectic shows 6 nights a week(Wednesday is movie night).Haidian Park hosts the 4 day Midi music festival every May holiday and this year hosted the first Modern Sky music festival over the October holiday.

 For tourist sights, both The Summer Palace and Old Summer Palace are here. Both are worth a look, but it's worth mentioning that both sights are best taken as parks rather than palaces. They're huge, so allow the better part of a day. The oft overlooked Old Summer Palace is one of the best deals for your money in Beijing. While basic admission to the Summer Palace is 100 kuai, all access admission to the Old summer Palace is a mere 25 yuan and well worth the price. Both places are beautiful in the fall.

 Beijing is not an easy city to live in sometimes. It's hard to meet people here and a comfortable lifestyle can be expensive. On the other hand, the array of choices extends to the job market and it's pretty easy to find a high paying job that suits your needs. It's not for everyone, but it suits me fine.

 
« Last Edit: February 06, 2008, 05:01:39 AM by decurso »

Taj

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Re: Beijing
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2008, 08:43:03 AM »
Thank you for this post!  My husband and I are coming to Beijing next week with the Rochester (NY) Oratorio Society.  The ROS will be participating in the 9th China International Chorus Festival, and we'll be staying in the Haidian district, so I appreciate the extra information about that area.

Our time is going to be pretty well "managed" by the tour company that has arranged this visit, but I will have pockets of free time here and there and am looking forward to exploring the neighborhood around the hotel, at least.

Raoul F. Duke

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Re: Beijing
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2008, 01:11:34 AM »
Wow, how did we go so long without a general Beijing thread going? aoaoaoaoao
Youse Beijingies been lettin' down the side, man... asasasasas

We got a number of folks up that way...or at least did have. Oughta get someone to steer ya right while you're in town.

I regard Beijing as THE absolute must for tourists...one just has to see the things there. But I've never liked it that much as a place to live. The transportation is a problem, as are some other things.

It's better in the East Central. agagagagag
"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

Taj

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Re: Beijing
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2008, 01:21:52 AM »
We'll be in Beijing from 7/14 to erm, I forget, but for about a week, then in Shanghai for about 3 days before heading back to the States.  And every day is action-packed with all the highlights.  I prefer a little slower-paced experience but what the hell--this was an opportunity we wouldn't have otherwise had so we glommed on.

Yeah, I'm a little nervous about transportation, although from reading the taxi thread maybe I don't need to be?  I prefer walking, but don't know what all is around my hotel to see.  I'll find out by doing it, I guess!

James the Brit

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Re: Beijing
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2008, 04:14:33 AM »
Taj, beware of those taxi drivers especially if youre staying in a nice hotel. Those  asasasasas will try very hard to take you on the scenic route. Dont accept offers from touts either.

cheekygal

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Re: Beijing
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2008, 04:35:54 AM »
See, Beijing info is so easily accessible over www.thebeijinger.com or www.cityweekend.com.cn I think those are very good sources for Beijing and Shanghai info and hows and whereabouts.  agagagagag But it's true, we should share our favorites in Beijing. It's always nice to have someone recommending the place so later you can bash this someone and blame for a bad experience  ahahahahah ahahahahah ahahahahah

decurso

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Re: Beijing
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2008, 05:34:25 AM »
Yeah, I'm a little nervous about transportation, although from reading the taxi thread maybe I don't need to be?  I prefer walking, but don't know what all is around my hotel to see.  I'll find out by doing it, I guess!

 This is not a walker friendly city. I'm not really familiar with the area you're staying, but if you're in Haidian you're probably a long way away from most sights of interest. The cab drivers here really aren't too bad for ripping you off...problem is many of them genuinely don't know the city that well. You often need to be able give very specific directions...in Chinese. This kind of sucks when you don't know exactly where you are going. And in peak traffic a cab from Haidian to any other part of Beijing can literally take hours and reach triple digits.

 To get to the city center (such as it is) from Haidian the best bet is the metro. It is not really a pleasant experience either, but for 2 kuai it's worth it. The line 13 passes through Haidian at Xizhimen, Zhichun Lu, Da Zhongsi. Wudaokou and Shangdi. It connects to the line 5 (north-south line) and line 2 (circle line). Soon the line 10 will be opening up, which will connect Haidian to the southeast of the city and shave thirty minutes off many commutes. By 2010 Beijing's metro system will be as convenient as New York or Paris.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2008, 03:17:00 PM by decurso »

Taj

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Re: Beijing
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2008, 09:08:37 AM »
Thanks, decurso.  Bummer about the walkability.  Well, maybe I won't have to go too far to stumble over a nice shop, restaurant, or massage joint. 

We're setting off in just a few hours!

decurso

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Re: Beijing
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2008, 03:26:18 PM »
 Restaurants and massage joints...no problem. Check out the restaurants of Beijing thread...most of them are in Haidian, and some of them even serve Chinese food.

  Sights of interest in Haidian...well, the Summer Palaces (the old and new) are of course lovely. The Beijing Zoo is out here too, but Chinese zoos are a tragic sight in my opinion. The Aquarium is allright, but ridiculously overpriced. The campus of Peking University can also be a nice place to spend a day.

 My advice is to bite the bullet and leave Haidian to do the important stuff. The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the silk market, Tiananmen Square...ect. You gotta see this stuff. Don't get hung up on seeing what is in your immediate vicinity. Explore.

Taj

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Re: Beijing
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2008, 03:34:45 PM »
Oh, gosh, yes, we are doing all of that already, with the group.  Leaving shortly!

decurso

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Re: Beijing
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2008, 07:58:35 AM »
 With the Olympics fast approaching and 3 new metro lines opening up, I thought I'd address the transportation issues here. It has been said that Shaghai's metro service is far better than Beijing's...and until recently this was true. No longer. Beijing is at least on par with Shanghai and will soon exceed it.

 All totalled, Beijing currently has 8 metro lines, and a ninth will be opening before the years end. The aim is to have 13 lines by 2010.

 Fares are currently 2 yuan and that includes unlimited transfers. They are currently working on a system where passengers will pay by distance.

 Line 1(the red line) runs from west to east right through the center of the city. It is one most often used by tourists and as such it is also the most crowded. Stops of interest on this route include the Bajiao Amusement Park, Ba Bao Shan (close to the Sculpture Garden), the Military Museum (a twenty minute walk north of the West train station) Tiananmen Square, Wangfujing (Beijing's famous pedestrian shopping street), Yonganli(right by the Silk Market) and Guo Mao (the heart of Beijing's Central Business District. It connects to the line 2 at Fuxingmen and Jianguomen, to the line 5 at Dongdan, to line 10 at Guomao and the Batong line at Sihui and Sihui East

Line 2 (the circle line) runs in loop between the second and third ring roads. It is the most useful route IMO in terms of both points of interest and connections. Key stops include Jishuitan (walking distance of the Xihai and Houhai lakeside bar areas), Gulou (the Drum Tower), Yonghegong (the Lama Temple), Dongzhimen (Embasy District), Dongsi Shi Tiao (walking distance of the Workers Stadium and Sanlitun bar street)and The Beijing rail station. Connections:Line 1 at Fuxingmen and Jianguomen, Line 13 at Dongzhimen and Xizhimen, Airport Express at Donzhimen, and Line 5 at yonghegong and Chongwen Men.

Line 13 is actually a monorail that runs in a u shape through the north of the city. Here there be monsters. This route serves the poor bastards who live out beyond the north section of the fifth ring road. Main stop of note is Wudaokou, the heart of student and university nightlife in Beijing. It connects to line 2 at Dongzhimen and Xizhimen, to line 5 at Lishui Qiao and line 10 at Zhichun Lu.

The Batong line services the far southeast of the city and is of little use to tourists. All totalled it only has something like 10 stops. It connects to line 1 at Sihui and Sihui east. I've never been out that far, but word has it it's pretty desolate.

Line 5 runs in a north-south direction slightly east of the middle of the city. This line also services some pretty remote areas in the north and south. Stops of note include Beixin Qiao (walking distance of Nanluogu Xiang, Beijing's oldest street and a pretty cool place), Zhangzi Zhong Lu (half a block from Yugong Yishan, one of Beijing's better live music venues) and of course, The Temple of Heaven. Connects to line 1 at Dongdan, line 2 at Yonghegong and Chongwen Men, Line 13 at Lishui Qiao and Line 10 at Huixin Jie Nan Kou.

The Airport Express runs from Dongzhimen directly to the Beijing Capital Airport, making one stop at San Yuan Qiao (the connection to Line 10. Stops at both Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. No idead how long the journey is, but I hear it's fast.

Line 10 runs from the northwest to the southeast in kind of an L shape and has been a life saver for me personally. It has cut many of my commutes in half. Stops of note include Suzhou Jie (near the Zhongguan Cun E Plazza), Liangma Qiao (near Lucky Street and a fine live music venue by the name of 2 Kolegas), Tuanjiehu (pretty much in the heart of Sanlitun) and Guomao. Connects to Line 13 at Zhichun Lu, Line 8 at Beitucheng, The Airport Express at San Yuan Qiao, Line 5 at Huixin Jie Nan Kou and Line 1 at Guo Mao.

 Line 8 (or the Olympic Line) makes just 3 stops after connecting with Line 10 at Beitucheng. Said stops are Olympic Center, Olympic Green and Forest Park. Kind of a waste IMO as you can easily walk to all three places from Beitucheng.

 Getting around Beijing is getting easier every day.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2008, 09:40:36 AM by decurso »

James the Brit

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Re: Beijing
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2008, 09:27:08 AM »
Good review of Beijing subways there, Decurso.

The stops along the Batong line are indeed in the middle of nowhere. They are mostly along the motorway (highway) that links Beijing to Tianjin. Limubai and I used to live close to the Batong Line. Not a whole lot to do... Spent our lives on the Batong Line trying to get to town. Definitely not of any interest to tourists.