So time flies when you’re having fun, I have been in Beijing for 1.5 years (minus the fact that I was also traveling every vacation). Many people have asked how’s my life in Beijing and it’s often answered by a “I hate it, but I love it..I don’t know..it’s a love-hate relationship” – which I figured most foreigners who have been staying in China for more than 6 months can relate to. Perhaps I can summarize it into Top 3 Love/Hate(s):
1) People – Being a “foreigner”, you’ll find the Chinese people always ready to help and really friendly (sometimes over friendly to the extent that they will text and call you at the most random hours) I have met a great bunch of International schoolmates as well! It’s really fun to meet people from places you’d never imagine meeting ever in your life and getting to know their cultures too.
2) Places – I think I can spend more years just exploring China and the list of places I have yet to visit is extensive. Coming from a city environment, the nature bits of China never fail to astound me and I really enjoy traveling via the train (surprise surprise) because I get to meet different people with interesting stories all the time. Traveling alone in China is actually rather safe, or at least I have done it without any problems so far. Yunnan, JiuZhaiGou and Qingdao are priorities on my to-go list for now. Perhaps Tibet too, if time and finances allow.
3) Culture -Being Chinese, it’s always fascinating to go back to my roots and understand the Chinese culture on a deeper level. I realized there is still so much to learn and the historical side of China with its many ethnic groups makes it even more attractive. Plus I am the kind of traveler who prefers to live the local way instead of checking out tourist attractions or dining at high-end restaurants.
1) Pollution - What can I say? Like the Beijinger’s memes suggested, it takes me two years to get my MA degree and probably a shorter time to get lung cancer. It’s so ironic for me to tell my friends that I’m going out for some fresh air when I needed a break from work.
2) Traffic - I still have no idea what are the actual traffic rules in Beijing, it seems that the traffic lights are just there for decoration most of the time. Cars zooming past while u’re crossing with the green man staring at you seems pretty normal. I’ve gotten used to being a pedestrian in China. However, it is the traffic jam that kills. It takes you probably double the traveling time to get to your destination because the traffic is always at its peak, no matter at what time of the day it is. It really annoys me more than anything else to be wasting my time on a public transportation.
3) Habits – Pushing through the crowd, spitting on the floor, getting into a verbal fight, jumping the queue and smoking right underneath a “no smoking” sign seems to be the norm rather than against the rule/law in China. Of course, not everyone in China is like what I mentioned above but I have seen plenty. (Note: But I must say somehow these scenarios happen more in Singapore than in China itself and that the media portrays a very negative stereotype of mainland Chinese that they do not deserve, there are nice well-mannered Chinese too!)
It’s been a whirlwind one and a half year with work, life, travel and learning all struggling for my attention but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m rediscovering China every day I am there.