Despite various formal definitions of year seasons, I personally stick to following events denoting season turnovers:
- winter–spring: trees start growing leaves,
- spring–summer: this one is fuzzy, no clear definition yet,
- summer–fall: trees start having orange/yellow/red leaves,
- fall-winter: first snow or day temperature below zero.
Similar to this year’s winter–spring transition, I had left Prague in late (already cold) summer and returned when trees turned orange. Thanks to my employer I was visiting my colleagues located in Beijing offices.
Spending most of my life in Europe, I experienced many novel things that are worth recording in this post.
I had planned to run a 10 km race the day before my departure, however, I was so stressed from the travel that I gave up due to symptoms of commencing cold. The nervousness stemmed from: no cash (juans), no understanding of Chinese language nor script (I knew just emergency phrases), unknown environment, no control (I had to rely on pre-arranged taxi service) and probably travelling alone that far. However, after I arrived, I suddenly felt healthy (and just tired) – this way I learnt the travel fever is a real thing and there is no reason to worry about that.
- Very poor knowledge of English
- I couldn’t chat even about weather with a taxi assistant.
- Despite I couldn’t understand a word, I heard radio advertisement is same
both in Europe and Asia.
- Ear-drilling melodies, repetitions, creepy tone of voice
- hukou similar to visa, however, for for cities.
- You have to obtain that to be a full citizen of Beijing.
- Business reasons/work for government/education (PhD.) helps.
- Output/input corridors with arrows in metro.
- Pointless security checks in metro (they cause queues).
- I had forgotten to be scared of chopsticks before the travel. Thanks to that nothing prevented me from learning to use them quite quickly (despite my clumsy style).
- Sharing food is common, you don’t have your dish on your plate.
- Somewhere assisted with rotating tables.
- No explicit courses, you just randomly pick food to match your taste.
- Sipping is OK, spoiling the tablecloth as well (they account for that).
- Hot water is often served as the basic beverage.
- I got used to spicy food (I may have a cough afterwards).
- hot pot
- fried noodles
- noodle soup
- noodles in sauce with meat
- dumplings (yeast, “ears”)
- Beijing duck
- little soft desserts
- fermented soya milk (similar to butter milk)
- pumpkin soup
Chinese style, people, culture
- Long queues at customs (not used to that in Schengen area), alleviated when more people shift began.
- Elevators are missing (not always) floors with digit 4 and also number 13.
- Heavy use of smartphones (booking, maps, transport, payments) and many “phone zombies”.
- Women often walk in pairs holding each other.
- No hipsters.
- Tourist buses transporting people to the Olympic Park used highway as parking lot. (Two of four lanes were completely blocked and there was a bottleneck where buses were turning.)
- Evening dancing lessons on playgrounds in hutongs (mostly for older women).
- Tai chi is exercised in parks in the morning.
- Chinese people are very good at queueing (hard to beat them).
- Beijing appears to be a modern city, well organized by system of rings (the first ring encompasses the Forbidden City, 7th ring is being built and it’s a highway 150 km far away from the center).
- Hutongs are traditional streets with flat houses and yards (siheyuan).
- Now they’re only inside the second ring, many were destroyed to make place for modern buildings.
- My first impression was relative mess on the desktops, some people even had gym equipment besides their tables. (I got used to that in few days.)
- Apart from that offices appeared similar to Europe.
- Public toilets are often squat toilets and the western restrooms are missing a brush.
- I was afraid of publicly blowing my nose after readings on the internets. It turned out it’s just normal.
- Cars are like trams in Prague (they’d run over you if you don’t watch out).
- Especially watch out for bicycles and rikshaws who usually ride the places where people tend to wait for a green light.
- Green light is not a guarantee of safe road crossing.
- Individual car transport is fast thanks to street grid between 10 PM and
6 AM (sic). Otherwise it’s paralyzed by continuous rush hour.
- 5 million cars, registration plates restrictions (based on last digit), you have to win an official lottery to be entitled for own plate.
- I bought a bottled water in local supermarket. Despite the cap looked like it had a valve, it was just that shape, no valve inside.
- Because of language barrier I had to use non-verbal communication more/more intensively, which was exhausting (forced smiles).
- I flew 6 hours eastwards, it took me ~3 days until I could sleep at night and not be sleepy during 10 AM to 3 PM.
- Smog is to various extent plague of Eastern parts of China.
- You can smell it outdoors.
- People are used to that, they just watch particulates reports and wear
respiration masks (they are almost a fashion item).
- 500 ppm (~0.5 g in cubic meter) is maximum range of official instruments.
- My guess is that 1 in 30 people wear the mask. (They don’t wear it not to be contagious.)
- It limits visibility and sunlight.
- Hotel limo vs Airport express, 20 times more expensive.
- Narrow, crooked streets adjacent to the Central Banking District.
Kanji characters I learnt
It is easier to learn reading Chinese than to speak/understand it.
|exit (outside direction)||出|
|of (possessive suffix)||的||de|