Saturday, April 18, 2009

a few days into it

Beijing is different than I remember it. No surprises in that, really,
as it changes a lot.

I had lived there for a year in 2000-2001, and then again from
2002-2003, and visited once in 2005 and again in 2006.

But still - some striking things:

1. The city is filling out. Last time I was there, it did not seem as
there were many high-rise buildings beyond the fourth ring road. Now,
however, there are solid high rises well past the fifth ring road. The
feeling out there (in terms of density & quality of construction) is
similar to what the areas in between the 3rd & 4th ring roads was like
back in my student days. Compared to life in the US, it's mind-blowing
how fast the city can grow and change here.

2. Seems like there's a better English-level among the populace. Could
also be reflective of the company I was keeping and the places I went
to hang out...certainly, at some restaurants I would have been SOL if
I didn't speak Chinese.

3. People are more stylishly dressed than ever. Lots of teenagers
carefully dressed up. Still some country bumpkin looks among people in
the outskirts, but as one heads more centrally into the city it
appears that people are more sophisticated. Again, I guess this should
be expected as Beijing matures & grows as an international hub; on the
other hand it seems like this is one of those things that may not
strike you as you live in the city on a day to day basis.

4. Lots of cool places to hang out. One's options for night life seem
pretty diverse. Unfortunately, my jet lag seems to be kicking in with
a vengance around 23:00 or 23:30 most of the time now, and I'm not
staying out super late. (The first night, however, I was out well
until after 2 am - had a blast)...

5. Have not heard too much Kenny G being played at various stores &
public spaces - though we were passing by an elementary school and his
distinctive sax playing was heard through a loud speaker for the
children as they completed their afternoon exercises...

Anyway, I should get some brunch or something soon. Will be heading
down south to Shenzhen later today.

- Dan

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