I never played Mahjong and I rarely see people playing this game in South Korea. During my time studying Chinese in Beijing, I saw many old people play Mahjong and they looked really into it. I thought maybe this game is complicated but also very interesting to play. I really wanted to try it.

Houhai is the area around the Houhai lake including its hutongs. It is arguably one of the nicest areas of Beijing and a magnet for tourists and everyone else. The pull of the scenery has also created a lively bar and restaurant scene around Yingding Bridge, frequented by foreigners and local Chinese alike.

My Slovenian roommates had friends coming into Beijing for a few days and they decided that they wanted to spend the weekend camping on the Great Wall. I had climbed the Great Wall before but I had never camped overnight on it. It was definitely on my bucket list of things to do in Beijing.

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.

When travelling by train to and fro Beijing keep in mind that the city has many train stations and you have to know which one you are arriving at or leaving from. It is employing the same dead-end station principle as other large cities of the world, such as Paris or London.

When arriving or leaving, you will be required to fill in and submit an arrival/departure form along with a quarantine card. Best have them ready before it is your turn at the migration desk. As elsewhere, the last step is to pick up your luggage before you are home free.

All these sorts of noodles you can eat everywhere, but the best ones are these served in a little noodle restaurant. Such little restaurants flourish abundantly in the little hutongs of Beijing.

Can learning Chinese be easy? If you had asked me this question a few months ago, I would have laughed. Chinese is considered one of the hardest languages to learn and I was skeptical about how easy it could actually be after a year of studying.

Beijing is an amazing city with many different types of great and delicious food. China has many provinces with many distinct flavors, taste, and variations. Today, I am going to share with you some of favorite foods as well as some of the more interesting foods that I have had in China.

Now that the World Cup is over... what are we going to do?

Stop by the Sinology Institute courtyard for a game of Mahjong!