Beijing?

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by kidkorea, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. modern_leifeng

    modern_leifeng Senior member

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    Wow, umm, I'm a bit surprised by some of the opinions about Beijing. To me, its a much better shopping city than Shanghai, but its still cursed by the fact that its in China, which means that while you'll be able to find many of the designer brands that are favorites on here as well as all the fashion labels, they are all typically 30%+ more expensive than they'd be in the US (or even HK) due to import taxes. That said, there are tons of Zaras, H&M's, and Uniqlos and those stores always get the high end collection stuff (like Uniqlo J+, Jimmy Choo for H&M) and its far easier to get your hands on them compared to the US. Plus, markup in these stores is fairly negligible most of the time. There are some cool boutiques and there's a mall filled with some quality fakes and interesting unique items if you have the time to sift through lots of crap. The tailor quantity and quality isn't as good as Shanghai, though there are still some decent ones.

    As for the weather, I spend most my time in Chicago when I'm in the US, Beijing is nowhere near as cold as Chicago, nor does it snow as much (that said, its snowing bigtime today in Beijing, VERY odd!). If you're used to winter in NY/NJ, you'll do fine in Beijing, its similar, except a lot dryer, make sure you bring lots of moisturizer.

    No offense to superfans, but it seems like he hasn't been around the city for awhile. Sanlitun's undergone a lot of changes, sure there is still that strip of bars on north street that somehow manage to keep going and if you walk down that strip you'll hear "lady bar, lady sex" a lot, but the Village on the other side of the street and Sanlitun Soho to the south has removed a ton of the sleaze (and unfortunately the character). There are some good spots to drink in the area, both high end, trendy and low end, college bar type spots. Houhai, on the other hand, is far from better, its where all the sleaze migrated (i've even had lady bar touts follow me into the bathroom there) to and with a few exceptions, it should absolutely be avoided. Nanluoguxiang is a much better option for a one stop drinking street. There are also a number of bars/clubs (ie Chocolate, Ichikura, etc) that are away from main strips but definitely worth a visit. The club scene is basically focused at Gongti (Worker's Stadium) at both the north (where you're treated to plenty of confusion in figuring out if your friends are at Mix or Vics) and west gate or out in the university area in Wudaokou. Which university will you be studying at? I'm assuming Beijing Language & Culture or Beijing University?

    There's also definitely an artsy vibe to the city, with a fairly decent live music scene as well as tons of art galleries. We don't get enough big western acts coming to town, especially now that the authorities and censors are more sensitive than ever (fuck you, Bjork!).

    For my money, Beijing is the best city in the world for Chinese food due to the diversity of Chinese regional cuisine you can find here. Not only will you find local Beijing food and imperial cuisine, but with the exception of Cantonese and Shanghainese food, you'll find arguably the best Sichuan restaurants outside of Sichuan, the best Xinjiang restaurants outside of Xinjiang, the best Yunnan food outside of Yunnan, etc.

    The city is constantly changing unlike anywhere I've ever lived in. It used to be that the city changed drastically every 6 months or so, though its slowed down to a year or two now. 10 years ago (even 5), the scene was incredibly low key and chill, you'd go out and party and see students, starving artists, mobsters, and celebrities all in the same spot, nowadays its far more stratified and everyone has their own place.

    If you have any specific questions or anything, feel free to PM me.
     


  2. kidkorea

    kidkorea Senior member

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    It's great to see so many replies. I was only expecting 1 or 2 honestly but it seems there are more SF'ers that have some experience with Beijing than I thought.

    How long would a bus/train ride take to Hong Kong? Would I just have to fly there?
     


  3. NaTionS

    NaTionS Senior member

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    I actually had to take a trip to Hong Kong this past summer to extend my visa so I had the same question. The easiest way would be to fly there. I don't think there's a direct train to HK and even if there were it would take a very long time.
     


  4. modern_leifeng

    modern_leifeng Senior member

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    It's great to see so many replies. I was only expecting 1 or 2 honestly but it seems there are more SF'ers that have some experience with Beijing than I thought.

    How long would a bus/train ride take to Hong Kong? Would I just have to fly there?


    The quickest train there would take 24 hours, its kind of fun to do once, but only once. If you want to get to HK on the cheap, its often best to look at flights into Shenzhen, because going to HK is considered "international" and often times costs considerably more, and its very easy and will only take an hour or so to get from Shenzhen airport to HK.
     


  5. Duff_Man

    Duff_Man Senior member

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    Do you have any other options? I would actually suggest Shanghai over Beijing. Particularly if you are studying Mandarin, the Beijing accent is far from universal.
     


  6. modern_leifeng

    modern_leifeng Senior member

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    Do you have any other options? I would actually suggest Shanghai over Beijing. Particularly if you are studying Mandarin, the Beijing accent is far from universal.

    The Shanghai accent is even worse, plus locals speak their own dialect which is completely different from Mandarin. Most Beijingers accent is about as close as you'll get to standard Mandarin (without the additon of the er hua yin to everything). Those in some northeastern cities will argue their accent is the most standard, though while there are advantages to spending a year in Shenyang or Harbin (cheaper standard of living, even fewer English speakers), your quality of life won't be what it is in Beijing.
     


  7. ingraman

    ingraman Well-Known Member

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    Do you have any other options? I would actually suggest Shanghai over Beijing. Particularly if you are studying Mandarin, the Beijing accent is far from universal.

    I went to Shanghai once and didn't really like it. Sure it has some fancy buildings, but Beijing feels more cultural. There's an amazing sense of history just walking through the streets.
     


  8. Nereis

    Nereis Senior member

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    Expect the quality of nightlife to be much lower than New York, the shopping to be atrocious, the food not much better and military police to be on every corner keeping a careful eye on the hordes of tourists. That said, quite a few people there can speak pidgen English and if you're only going to stay in the cleaner areas of the city it's quite a worthwhile experience. If it's culture you want, I recommend visiting Xi'an and Nanjing. If it's a great uh... experience, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
     


  9. kidkorea

    kidkorea Senior member

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    The Shanghai accent is even worse, plus locals speak their own dialect which is completely different from Mandarin. Most Beijingers accent is about as close as you'll get to standard Mandarin (without the additon of the er hua yin to everything). Those in some northeastern cities will argue their accent is the most standard, though while there are advantages to spending a year in Shenyang or Harbin (cheaper standard of living, even fewer English speakers), your quality of life won't be what it is in Beijing.


    Yes I heard to study language and learn most about the culture, Beijing is the city to go to. It's also one of the only major cities I haven't gone to yet. I'm going to a school recommended to me by a family friend there so I don't really have other options no. Lots of mixed opinions about this city..haha.
     


  10. TUspiv

    TUspiv Senior member

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    I'm in Beijing now and will be next semester as well, I'm living in Haidian, which is the University district. Send me a pm and we can exchange info. I've only been here a few months, so I'm hardly an expert, but I can maybe help you get started.

    I'm from Dallas and I love Beijing. But like an above poster said, it is probably largely because I was bored at home. Shopping can be kind of mixed, Dongwuyuan has cheap stuff but low quality, some shops in Sanlitun and Jinyuan have nice stuff but you'll be paying American prices anyways. I am very satisfied with the food here and there is a nice selection of Chinese restaurants, but finding cuisines from other parts of the world can be quite a challenge. I am not at all impressed with the bar districts so far. There are some decent places to go and drink, but the women there can be disappointing and I often get the vibe they're looking for a passport.

    Public transportation is very easy, though if you can't recognize Chinese characters, it could be a problem. Subway system is easier for English-only speakers than the bus system, but if you know where to go, it shouldn't be a problem. You'll want to get a yikatong ka though, which is like an all purpose subway-bus-taxi credit card.

    The only other Chinese city I've been to is Kunming and Anyang. I loved Kunming and almost wish I was there instead, but Anyang was the industrial wasteland that I expected large swathes of China to be. Anyways, I think you'll like Beijing. Oh, and the poster who mentioned that Beijing is sort of in between Bangkok and Tokyo in terms of benefits is, I think, spot on. Which is to say, Beijing doesn't have that many benefits. A lot of things are cheap though, particularly food--if you find the right places.

    Anyways, take what I say with a grain of salt, I'm still quite new here! Good luck!
     


  11. modern_leifeng

    modern_leifeng Senior member

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    Beijing is a city that doesn't quite know what it wants to be yet and partly because of that, its a place that is typically either love or hate, which is probably why you got so many different opinions on here. The divide is especially between Beijing and Shanghai, very few people like both, you love one and hate the other.

    As long as you like Chinese food, the food's great (and there are some decent western and other ethnic spots). Transportation is incredibly cheap, but traffic can be very bad at times. The subway system has expanded and is very easy to use, but some of the interchanges are hellish (ie Line 13-Line 2 at Xizhimen). It isn't NYC, it isn't a "trendy" city, its more bohemian and, at the same time, heavily political. The fact housing prices stayed down for a long time meant that a lot of the artsy types (musicians, artists, fashion people) left Shanghai and came to Beijing, which is why the city has a lot more live shows and art galleries and things like that going on.

    Living in the university district definitely has its good and bad side. Lots of cheap dining, some cool clubs, and tons of young people (including a huge Korean enclave, when things were going well, Wudaokou was Little Korea, with something like 30,000 Koreans and Korean-Chinese living in the area). The disadvantage is that you're fairly far from a lot of the best shopping and nightlife and the "expat life" which is often based on the east side of town.

    Wow, when you get here, there will be at least 5 SF "regulars" who are living in Beijing, very cool.
     


  12. kidkorea

    kidkorea Senior member

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    It's really awesome that a site like this is full of so many people from different parts of the world. When starting this thread, I was expecting maybe 1 or 2 responses but the replies keep on coming. I'm getting more and more excited to go now. Maybe an SF meeting in Beijing could be possible in the future.

    Thanks for all the replies guys really.
     


  13. Svenn

    Svenn Senior member

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    The only other Chinese city I've been to is Kunming and Anyang. I loved Kunming and almost wish I was there instead, but Anyang was the industrial wasteland that I expected large swathes of China to be. Anyways, I think you'll like Beijing. Oh, and the poster who mentioned that Beijing is sort of in between Bangkok and Tokyo in terms of benefits is, I think, spot on.
    That's so weird!, the only other major Chinese city I'd been to is Kunming too! I liked Kunming as well- it seemed more wild and developing like Bangkok and like some adventures could be had there. I got a more cold, indifferent vibe from Beijing, but I'm no expert. I think the girls from southern China are much prettier too [​IMG]
    Yes, I'm glad you've confirmed that comparison I made... I was worried I missed out on something.

    But who knows OP, it's ultimately very subjective: you could meet a sexy honey in Beijing and get all sorts of connections to penthouse parties and the like... then you'd be convinced it was the best city in the universe!
     


  14. TUspiv

    TUspiv Senior member

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    That's so weird!, the only other major Chinese city I'd been to is Kunming too! I liked Kunming as well- it seemed more wild and developing like Bangkok and like some adventures could be had there. I got a more cold, indifferent vibe from Beijing, but I'm no expert. I think the girls from southern China are much prettier too [​IMG]
    Yes, I'm glad you've confirmed that comparison I made... I was worried I missed out on something.

    But who knows OP, it's ultimately very subjective: you could meet a sexy honey in Beijing and get all sorts of connections to penthouse parties and the like... then you'd be convinced it was the best city in the universe!


    Hah yes, the friends I went with said they also thought the girls in Kunming were prettier. You're right though, it's all very subjective and you could end up having an amazing time or a terrible time. Hate to say it depends on luck or fortune...but maybe it does? [​IMG]
     


  15. modern_leifeng

    modern_leifeng Senior member

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    I got a more cold, indifferent vibe from Beijing, but I'm no expert. I think the girls from southern China are much prettier too [​IMG]
    Yes, I'm glad you've confirmed that comparison I made... I was worried I missed out on something.

    The people in Beijing are typically very warm and easy to get along with, at least compared to southerners, plus for my money, northern girls are much better (taller, prettier) than their southern counterparts, especially those from Dongbei and Beijing, nothing sexier than a Beijing accent, then again, I married a Beijing girl, so I'm partial...

    But who knows OP, it's ultimately very subjective: you could meet a sexy honey in Beijing and get all sorts of connections to penthouse parties and the like... then you'd be convinced it was the best city in the universe!

    Very true, at the end of the day, it all depends on if you come with an open mind and the kind of people you meet and befriend...Hopefully for OP, it will be a great time, but no matter what, it's a hell of an adventure...
     


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