Beijing, China - September 8, 2001
Been exploring Beijing the last few days. Scott and myself and just random people we've met have been exploring most of the city the last few days. We saw the main things - Tianamin Square, the Great Wall of China, and the Forbidden City among other miscellanous sites. Pretty impressive. My main impression of Beijing is its so spread out and monsterous just to go anywhere - takes forever! Its nice and everything, but I'm much more accustomed to Seoul where I can see and do everything within about five minutes - because its so convenient. Beijing is not the most convenient place. But its nice in its own way though, of course.
We went out for the nightlife a couple times, but seems pretty non-existant compared to Seoul. There was an area with tons of expat foreigners, and we did go there a couple times in the evenings. Local Chinese were far and few between, and the ones I did encounter seemed to be prostitutes. I also spent the better part of one day trying to locate an internet cafe, which also seemed pretty much non-existant. No one really seemed to have an idea of where one was. I was pretty surprised about it too, because I keep hearing how Chinese people like to play computer games at internet cafes (like Koreans), but no one there really seemed to have any clue about it. I asked tons of young people too, eventually one person led me to a place, and there were about 40 computers, but only about 5 people. I spent an hour or two there each day I was in Beijing, and seldom ever saw people using them. So my conclusion is that the internet defintely isn't popular in China. (Actually anyone in USA may not know what I'm talking about - as there are so few internet cafes in USA either). But backpack travelers who have been to any of the other Asian countries like Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand - you'll know what I'm talking about because in these countries you'll easily see internet cafe all over the place.
Beijing is definetly the cultural heart of China, but it lacks in soul. Kind of seems sterile and boring and dull. But then again, maybe I just wasn't able to find where it is lively. People are friendly though, and they seemed to treat foreigners quite normal. No one stared at me or acted weird - which sounds funny to say - but I've heard that its common for people to react funny to foreigners in China. But everyone seemed pretty normal. The food was incredible though! I loved it! We had some incredible meals all of the time! I think if I lived there, I might soon get tired of them, but we were all really enjoying them alot at the time.