Daily Life

As elsewhere, there are several ways to get your air tickets in China. No matter if you are booking international or domestic, you can either go straight to the airline, to a travel agent or through a travel website. The necessity for any person to person contact is gradually being reduced however, so that you better be prepared to book online using a credit card.

If you have ever had any doubt about the Chinese not being fully in love with things western, just visit the Ikea in Beijing on a weekend and you will believe. It also gives you final confirmation on the question about China being the most populated country in the world. It seems as if all of China descends on the Beijing outlet of this Swedish furniture house every single weekend taking no prisoners. 

Everyone gets sick from time to time. This is especially true in Beijing with its pollution(污染), huge population(人口), and active nightlife(夜生活) scene. So what do you do when you get sick in China?

Supermarkets are one of my favorite topics as I believe that supermarkets tell you a lot about the country you are visiting. 超市 in Chinese which in turn is an abbreviation for 超级市场. 超级 means “super” and 市场 “market”. Chinese is easy, isn’t it?

Thank your lucky stars that the geography of Beijing is pretty easy to get to grips with. Currently, to most foreigners only the area within the 4th ring road is interesting, with all beyond rather Chinese 老百姓 or migrant worker territory (except perhaps 望京 in the northeast).  However, there has been a push-out movement in recent years with foreigners slowly (and reluctantly) moving closer to the periphery as rental rates are rising.

There are two ways of looking at the hassle of renting an apartment in Beijing. The first way is to take it all rather personally, the finding process with shady estate agents, meeting with and talking to the landlord for the first time, counting out tens of thousands of RMB in cash, handing the same over, realizing what all is broken and needs replacement after having spent the first 24 hours in your new place and getting registered at the local police station.

A chore any foreigner staying in Beijing (and the rest of China) has to go through is getting registered at the local police station within 24 hours of arrival at your new place of residence even if it is just for one day. This means if you change apartments within Beijing you are actually required to change your registration every time.

Gone are the days when taking a cab was the best form of transportation taking into account convenience, price and speed. Firstly, Beijing roads are now so congested when calculating your conservative travel time you are advised to at least double (better triple) it to arrive at a more accurate estimate. Secondly, cab fares have gone up and up. Compared to Europe and North America it is still relatively cheap but if you get into the habit of taking taxis everywhere (believe me, many a foreigner does) it really adds up significantly.

Beijing’s subway system has literally evolved from a two-liner (i.e. lines 1 and 2) to what is today one of the most extensive subway networks in the world. Many say that no matter how many more lines the subway adds, the mayhem on the roads will not subside. However, imagine what was to happen if the subway system closed overnight. Just have a look at the hordes of people taking the subway every day and you will thank the Gods for it being there.

Beijing bus lines range from 1 to infinity (at least, that’s how it feels). Then there are some bus lines operated by private contractors which carry the company name in front of their numbers and are oftentimes painted in some conspicuous colour.