I am in Beijing for a few days for work. I arrived Saturday so I would have Sunday to sightsee… which I did for 10 hours ! I came to Beijing in 2005, before the Olympics, so I was excited to be back. I have prepared several posts about my experience but here are some initial, very random, reactions to this interesting and history laden city :
What surprised me :
- There was very little litter. Maybe I was in very touristy areas but it was quite clean.
- Knowing that the Chinese do spit on the ground, I saw quite a few spit into trash bins. This might be a possible influence on how the Chinese government wanted to improve the image of the country before the Olympics.
- There are few places to sit. I saw no benches. The Chinese do often crouch, so maybe they do not see the need for benches, but even in the touristy areas or in malls, I didn’t see any.
- People stare. You get used to it.
- There are public toilets EVERYWHERE. And they were spotless. Of the 5 I probably went into, not one smelled like urine. And they were all free and stocked with toilet paper.
- For the toilet, you take your toilet paper from a dispenser on the outside, before going into the stalls. Then you have your choice : toilets where you can crouch, or toilets where you can sit. There is a sign on the door to indicate which kind it is.
- No taxi stands….at least I couldn’t find any.
- I felt VERY safe.
- The streets and directions are well marked and I easily found my way around.
- You can buy scorpions on a stick to eat. I saw live bugs on a stick, wiggling, before being cooked (the black things in the below photo are scorpions)
- I was not harassed and rarely spoken to, albeit stared at a bit.
- I didn’t remember that so much of the food is fried.
- There is an abundance of food.
- There were security checks in all the sightseeing spots and the subway.
- There is constant stimulation. Not only honking, but loud music, flashing lights, digital advertising blinking. It is very loud.
- A subway ticket costs 2RMB (0,26 Euros, 0,33 dollars). The subway is very easy to use, just like any other city !
What didn’t surprise me :
- All the international stores… Gap, H&M, Starbuck, Bershka, Sephora, Coach, Yankee Candle !
- Starbucks coffee tastes the same in Beijing as it does in Paris, New York and London.
- A grande Cappuccino from Startbucks was 30 RMB (3,80 Euros, 4,90 dollars)
- I paid 6 RMB (0,77 Euros, 0,98 dollars) for an ice cream in the city, and 48 RMB (6,15 Euros, 7,80 dollars) for an ice cream in the hotel. Yummy green tea ice cream !
- The wide choice of street food.
- There are MANY people who wear masks. There is a lot of pollution. When I blew my nose, its black.
- People are very friendly, I heard they would be.
Have you ever been to Beijing ? what surprised you ? More to come this week !