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Why I LIKE Beijing

Popularity 10Viewed 3531 times 2014-6-13 14:11 |Personal category:Special topic|System category:Life| Beijing, power, history, Shanghai

This is part of a family of posts starting with WHY I LOVE SHANGHAI, and connected to Chenyan’s IMPRESSIONS OF BEIJING, with a WHY I LIKE BEIJING. LIKE is a deliberate choice of word because it is my 2nd favourite city in China and there can only be ONE special love. Beijing comes a good second though, and I have lived there from March 2011.

I imagine that many people like their country’s capital city. I was excited to move from the North West of England to London to go to university and subsequently to live. I enjoyed driving past Buckingham Palace (and waiving to the Queen!) on my way to work. It seemed that I was at the centre of the action. I feel the same way in a taxi going along Beijing’s Chang An Avenue and past Tiananmen Square.

There is a saying by Tour Guides: If you want to see 2,000+ years of China’s History go to Xi’an, if you want to see 1.000+ years of it, go to Beijing and, if you want to see 100+ years of it, go to Shanghai. There is a case for seeing 1,000+ years.


(Photo: Tiananmen Square is awe inspiring)

So my reasons for liking Beijing are:

1)      It is the City of Political Power as the capital

2)      It has the historic sites in town of the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven. the Summer Palace and the Lama Temple and a few others.

(photo: The Summer Palace on a hazy day)

3)      It has the Great Wall at Badaling, Ju Yongguan, Mutianyu and Simatai (I have been to all).

4)      It has the Beijing Olympic Park (I have been to Athens and London Olympics too).

(Photo: My students in front of the Water Cube in the Olympic Park)

5)      It has the free museums such as the National Museum of China. The Capital Museum, the National Art Museum of China, the Military Museum and more.

6)      It has the interesting shopping and eating spots like Nanluoguxiang Hutong, Houhai, Wangfujing Street and the connecting night food street, Xidan, and many more.

(Photo: Shoppers in Nanluoguxiang Hutong, Beijing)

(Photo: Houhai in winter. Parts of the frozen lake are used for ice skating!)

7)     It has the Western escape places such as Sanlitun, Wudaokou, The Place and more.

8)      It has a very affordable extensive metro subway system and public bus network.

(Photo: A historic Beijing store off Qianmen Commercial Street)

(photo: Famous Wangfujing Pedestrian Street, Downtown)

Some problems:

The pollution levels are higher than in Shanghai and Nanjing most of the time. Beijing is somewhat isolated, other than the high speed train to Tianjin, whereas Shanghai has four important cities within an hour’s reach.  Most importantly, most of my friends live in Shanghai and go back as far as 2008 when I visited regularly from Nanjing and from part of 2009 through part of 2011 when I lived in Shanghai. For whatever reasons, none wish to move to Beijing. 

 (Photo: Some of my students with me in the December snow of Beijing at the Summer Palace)

 (Photo: the Same students in Shanghai the following week)

SHANGHAI : I was back there for a "movers and shakers" conference on the new China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone earlier in 2014. I had to wear a shirt and tie, not usual! A chance to catch up with GF. This time in Crossroads Bar, Huashan Lu (compare 2009 photo in Why I love Shanghai)

Beijing is good, but it is not THAT good! 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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