Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Makes Life In Beijing Unique For An American

Posted by He Said
Contributions by He Said and She Said
Inspired by Marc Tiar

All the locals speak Chinese (go figure).

There is a little fence that runs down the middle of all the streets. I think this serves two purposes – to keep people from crossing where they shouldn't (because they would) and to keep the cars from going where they shouldn't (and again, I guarantee they would).


The roads are also divided on the sides with additional mini fences on both sides which delineates an area not to be driven on by cars. This is labeled as a bike path, but everyone calls them sidewalks.

The actual sidewalks are used for parking (and they park in the bike paths too).


Bicycles are EVERYWHERE. There are three wheeled bikes, electric bikes, bikes with trailers, and bikes with built in gloves on the handlebars. You can usually tell when one is coming up behind you by the rust induced squeaking and the rattling of the loose chain. The electric ones will quietly sneak up on you and run your ass over.


Bikes also park on the actual sidewalks in every space that the cars can't fit.

McDonalds tastes the same. BUT THE MENU IS IN CHINESE!

The buildings have no 4th or 14th floor. BAD JUJU (ok, my words, but the numbers are bad luck here).

The buildings do however have a 13th floor. All I can say is that I thank the FSM I live on the 10th. At work I am on the 11th floor, which is really the 12th, so we are all good there too.

The street names and store names are all in Chinese. This makes going anywhere a challenge.

There are street vendors cooking and selling all sorts of food, everywhere. I can't say for sure, but I suspect there are not too many health inspectors.

No one wears a helmet while riding their bikes. This is particularly disconcerting because they TEXT and ride while driving on the sidewalk! I might start wearing one to walk on the sidewalk.

The major grocery store has pushers on every aisle giving samples or pointing you to the more expensive brands. I haven't found one that samples alcohol, but I haven't given up on that yet.

Government buildings and 7-Elevens have marble steps and entryways. Have you ever walked on polished marble in a snowstorm? Neither have we, we but slid faster than Apolo Ohno.

They don't have wine in a box, but we make up for it by drinking out of a paper cup.

The public restrooms are called Water Closets.

You can buy coagulated blood. To eat. Don't worry, you cook it first.

They have live turtles and fish in the grocery store. These are NOT in the pet section.

Some people like to eat dog. Some restaurants serve dog, but don't worry, I am told they don't eat any of the cute ones.

They don't appear to eat cat. But I am working on changing that.

You can buy almost anything on the streets. "Rolex" watches, DVD's of movies that are still in the theatres, "Gucci" bags and more. But not drugs. They execute you for that.

You know all that cool stuff at home that says Made In China? You can't buy it here.

McDonalds delivers (on a bike btw) if you call in to place your order, which doesn’t help us because we DON’T SPEAK CHINESE.

The public restrooms have a communal roll of toilet paper at the entrance with a sign (yes, in English and Chinese) that says “Conserve Use”.  It’s always empty.  The soap dispensers if they have any are usually empty. I have yet to see a paper towel dispenser or air hand dryer.  I guess this makes sense because if you didn’t wipe ,then didn’t wash your hands, what do you need a hand towel for?

After using the restroom I understand why and am glad that people don’t shake hands here.

You can watch pirated movies all you want and the government doesn't seem to care. They just don't let you post it on Blogger, Facebook or Twitter.

Several of the public men’s restrooms have had an employee just standing there.  I don’t understand why, and that’s why I keep telling myself they are employees. It makes it easier to stand there and pee with a total stranger watching me for no apparent reason.

Everyone we have met here is generous, kind and helpful. It's like the opposite of New Yorkers.

There are lots of stations on the TV here, but only the Bloomberg Channel is in English. This makes watching our shows a challenge.



  1. How cool that you guys get to experience this, and with your kids. So jealous!

  2. When Ryan and I were in Vietnam I would coo over all the animals in cages. That was until I realized what was going on. Then I wanted to buy them all and bring them all home.

  3. I cannot go to China; I would live in perpetual terror of committing an executable offense.