Ladies of the night
One night, I wanted to buy some stuff from a supermarket across the street from my hotel. On the way to/from the store, 3 different women approached me and talked to me in Chinese. I'm not sure if they thought I was Chinese too or simply because I was alone but either way I could only assume they were offering some 'personal' service. Since I couldn't understand them anyway, I just said "Bu shi!" (No!), kept walking till they left. Don't think they're alone like you, for sure they have a male back-up nearby who's maybe their pimp or manager.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Different electrical outlets
The electrical outlet is different everywhere. And so is the case in Beijing.
Note that Voltage is 220V (50 Hertz). So if your equipment is 110V, be careful.
Fortunately, there are easily available outlet adapters. Many of them made in China.
Traffic Jam & Collision Under the Bridge
If you are renting boat rides at Qian Hai Lake and Hou Hai Lake , there is a only a narrow river way between the two lakes.
So it can be a traffic jam of boats at this bottleneck and be patient so that no is is bumped off the boat by collision.
Perhaps, a "traffic light" should be installed soon for the boats going under the bridge.
Getting off a crowded bus
In the Beijing public buses, ofteh there are three doors. Passengers alight on the middle door where you can swipe with a prepaid card or pay in cash, usually 1 yuan to the collector who usually sits near the middle door.
Announcements are made in Chinese to ask passengers who are disembarking to be ready as the doors at front and rear will only open.
So when you enter a crowded bus through the middle door, quickly move through the crowd toward the front or rear door before the bus reaches the stop of your destination. When you let the person in front of you know, they will give way to let you go towards the exit door.
Pay Close Attention to Warning Signs
When I was visiting a major Muslim mosque in Beijing, there was a warning sign in both Chinese and English stating that room inside is out of bounce of non-Muslim.
Unfortunately two young Chinese toursts did not see the sign and walked into the room with prayer mats with their street shoes. It created a ruckus.
So beware of warning signs whether shoes off or no admission and respect holy places of worship.
Toilets - Lack of privacy
Many public toilets have been transformed to meet international standard for cleanliness and comfort. There is constant cleaning.
For some of the older toilets like this picture of this small public toilet outside and near the street of the National Theatre of Performing Art, the small layout reflect the lack of privacy of the original toilet.
Not enough room for doors and space. So better to use the toilets at your hotels or major shopping malls unless it is an emergency.
Air pollution - CNN reports
Prior to coming to the Beijing, I was constantly bombarded by daily CNN news of how bad the air is and whether one can see far or breathe safely not to say run a marathon.
Fortunately, it was not as bad as it reported. Not sure how much to do with the steps taken to reduce cars on the road and stopping of construction.
There were days of blue skies after the rains as well days of "hazy" skies and many days in return. For some locals, the "haze" is just combination of moisture, particles and stagnant wind conditions.
Anyway, I did not experience any bad days but I am sure they do occur like all major cities.
Subway - lots of steps
Especially in the "older" subway stations, there are no escalators and one has to climb up and down the steps. So not advisable to take the subway if you cannot do the stairs.
I once tried a lift but it was not operating. Some lifts are only for wheel chair or handicap and "under lock".
Some of the subway interchange line is also a distance to walk. There are no walkathons. But like all subways in the world, do expect to walk up and down the stairs in a crowd for the convenience use of the subway. I
Generally safe but watch out for pickpockets
Throughout my stay in Beijing, whether day or night, I have found that Beijing is very safe compared with major cities around the world. Perhaps there was also extra security as Olympic Games was in town.
However only once, I heard a commotion after the end of the Basketball event as people were leaving and going home at night. Someone was chased down, pushed to the ground because he had pickpocketed someone.
So it is prudent to always watch out your pocket if you are in a crowded environment. Overall, thumbs up for Beijing city security and safety for tourist.
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Ladies, pack plenty of toilet paper!!!!
Consider yourself warned!
Although there are plenty of public toilets in Beijing, they are often very smelly, unclean and have no toilet paper.
Almost all public toilets are squat style, as are quite a few McDonalds and older style shopping mall toilet facilities.
Some toilets are only for Peeing in! The signs warn of punishment for not compliance LOL.
1. Take plenty of toilet paper with you.
2. Use the toilets in the western style shopping malls
3. Even McDonalds and KFC mostly do not supply toilet paper
4. If you wish to have a “sit down toilet” and not a squat toilet, find a disabled toilet as they are western style!Related to:
- Budget Travel
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Many people don't even think about how buildings are made. Maybe they are made well enough here, but the glitsy, shiny glass belies are crumbling interior, and that is the same throughout the country. The following images are of an old building, a modern building, and a building being built. Note the holes in the building under construction, and keep that in mind when viewing the first two. The facade looks pretty, while the reality is much different. That is China, in some regards. I hope buildings in the west aren't built like this.
Every so often, a crack in the ceiling of our bathroom sheds another bit of aggregate. They use too much aggregate (small stones) in relation to other ingredients here. The concrete cracks, it leaks. Paint peels here like you wouldn't believe, and in part it's due to the rotting of the structures underneath- the water rusting away at the rebar...
Bricks are falling off the pretty facade of the main classroom building at our school This is not good. I could understand if the bricks were hit by something, but they're five floors up. You can see other places where they're peeling off the wall. They need lessons in use of concrete.
Three images.Related to:
Touts and Men
There are some touts at the Temple Of Heaven that don't leave you alone. They are the type that offer to shine your bare feet, the kind that walk up to me with my professional camera stuff, and tell me I need postcards. I'm the one who makes postcards... I don't need to buy them. Anyway, they kind of give an, "aww, come on, I know you really want this. You're just playing with me" type feel. But it does get annoying when you say "no" and they keep at it.
Oh, how I'd love to sit and talk with them, had I the language... I want to see what their life is like, instead of being treated as a dollar sign and treating them like trash. I'm nice at first, of course, but after the tenth time saying "no" it really gets old. It's sad that that's the only real relationship most tourists get to see of many people...
Also, there was a group of men when we were there, tourists, no doubt, but still the type to be discomfiting. Not that the Chinese are threatening people, but you have to be careful about groups of people sometimes. Anyway, they were just staring a lot, and I'm rather defensive about my camera gear... Just keep your stuff close and enjoy!
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Do not travel to Beijing during New Years without earplugs, or you will find it difficult to sleep.
The fireworks are everywhere around the clock for three days, but reach a climax at midnight of New Years Eve. I imagine Beirut sounds the same...
Definately an awe inspiring experience, to be surrounded by constant sound and light.
You're a foreigner, you are supposed to have money
After dealing a lot with Chinese people I already have this perception (you're a foreigner, you are supposed to have money).
The Chinese education is one of the toughest in the world. I am European (Portuguese) and my son studies in a Chinese school. Now I know that western students going to school is kind of going to a summer camp, this is to say, there is not much burden spending a dozen of years in school.
The Chinese themselves know this fact as well, they know that generally speaking the western way of life is much more relaxed and easy and they also know that life in China is hard and extremely competitive, “if I don’t take care of myself, nobody will”. And you can see it right at the bus stop, “I must be the first to get in, otherwise I won’t get a seat”.
If you can understand these little examples then it is already half way to better understand the Chinese people. Please, don’t try to compare your values with other people’s values, if you do, you will be going in the wrong direction.
Since the Chinese are aware that life in western countries (especially in USA and Europe) is much more comfortable, consequently they have this idea that foreigners have money. The funny thing is that if you say you don’t have money they won't believe you, they might even laugh at you.
I can not give you any special tip about this subject, what I can tell you is that you shouldn’t behave like you have lots of money to burn. Wherever you go to buy things or even at the taxi, take out from your wallet small change and not the whole bunch of money, separate the small change from the big bucks. And please, don’t pay a couple of buns with a 100 USD, please.
All what I have said is just to avoid wrong perceptions between you the foreigner and local people (especially the ones who will be selling you something). Don’t reinforce more this idea that because you are a foreigner you must have money. Well, ultimately I am just telling you this because I don’t want you to get ripped off.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Business Travel
Useful phone numbers in Beijing
China International country code number: 0086
Beijing city code number: 010
Post Code Check: 010-6303 7131
24-hour Tourist Hotline: 010-6513-0828
Time check: 117
Weather forecast: 121
Traffic accident/traffic emergency call service: 122
Medical emergency/ambulance: 120/999
Foreigners Section of the Beijing Public Security Bureau: 010-65255486
Tourist Hotline: 010-65130828
International Medical Hospital: 010-65295284
Hong Kong International Medical Clinic-Beijing: 010-65012288 Ext.2346
Domestic Long Distance Phone Number Information: 174
International SOS Assistance Top: 010-65903419
Beijing China Travel Service: 010-65158264
China International Travel Service: 010-66011122
Bus Inquiries: 96166
Tourist Bus Company: 010-64363452
Air China: 1) Ticket Office: 010-66017755 2) Domestic Flight Reservation: 010-66013336 3) International Flight Reservation: 010-66016667
Capital Airport Inquiry: 010-64563604/3605/3606
Beijing Railway Station Inquiry: 010-65128931/65129525/51059999
Beijing Railway Station Booking Office: 010-65127378/65127354/65634512/65634622
Train Ticket Booking: 010-63217188
Beijing Taxi Company: 010-68582661/68312288
Capital Taxi Company: 010-65138893
Taxi Hotline: 010-68351150
Overseas Chinese Affair Agency of the State Council: 010-64035511
Hong Kong and Macau Office of the State Council: 010-68315014
Taiwan Affair Office of the State Council: 010-63098946
Overseas Chinese Affair Office, Beijing Gov.: 010-64163989
Beijing Taiwan Affair Office Inquiry: 010-68533453
Beijing Customs: 010-65194114
Expatriates Management & Visa Department of the Beijing Public Security Bureau: 010-65253102
Credit Card Hotlines
American Express International: 010-65052888
Diner's Club: 010-65101868
MasterCard International: 010-65101090/95
Visa International: 010-65064371
Federal Express: 010-64623188Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Study Abroad
- Family Travel
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