Beijing Lifestyle

[Beijing Seen] Malatang at Dongsiliutiao

One of the many advantages of living in Asia is the variety of food to choose from. In the variety of food is also a variety of combinations you can come up with when you decide to eat Malatang.  Of the many options I have seen that being: shrimp, fish balls, tofu, bean curd, lotus root, mushrooms, chicken, beef tendon, and noodles seem to be the malatang all-stars and much more get cooked in a pot of steaming broth laced with Sichuan peppers and sesame oil. Prices can rage from simple snacks(3RMB) to a full dinner (15RMB). My favorite out of many in Beijing is this joint located in Dongsiliutiao Hutong. It’s a nice place to mingle with locals and the owner, Mrs. Ma, who is originally from Sichuan has been cooking up Malatang for almost 2 decades. If you like your food real spicy then it is definitely worth a try when you’re in China.

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[Photos] Beijing Capital International Airport

Completed just in time for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Beijing Capital International Airport is now the most busiest airport in Asia. Living in Beijing makes it simple to travel around Asia and I myself have called Beijing my home for the last year. Coming back to this airport always has a special feel to it, well assuming that it’s not polluted outside, but when I came back from Seoul last month I took my time to snap some photos of the ceilings in Terminal 3. It’s massive and the photos don’t do justice.

At its opening, It was the largest man made structure in the world in terms of area covered, and a major landmark in Beijing representing the growing and developing Chinese city.

A 98.3-meter monitoring tower stands at the southern end of T3

The expansion was largely funded by a 30 billion yen loan from Japan and 500-million-euro (USD 625 million) loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB).


[Photos] Beijing Railway Station at Sunset

Upon leaving for my latest thirteen hour train ride over to Dalian in Liaoning Province, I took some time to snap away some scenes from Beijing railway station: the oldest station in Beijing that’s been around for almost sixty years. Since my train was to leave at night and it was during China’s labor day three-day weekend, you could see a lot of people rushing in to catch their trains.  Beijing railway station to me is a special place since my first trip to Beijing couple years back started from this station. I had no idea I would be back working here but it was nice to look around and take some photos here during sunset. I think the photos can do most of the talking but I wanted to show some movement in these photos.


[Photo] Beijing Apple Store Scuffle Aftermath

Last Saturday afternoon turned out to be an interesting one for me at Sanlitun Village, one of the premier shopping malls in Beijing. A group of people wanting to purchase the brand new white iPhone 4 and iPad 2 clashed with Apple Store employees in a fight that caused the store to close down for several hours. Sources like gizmodo and WSJ have a pretty good coverage on what went down but it was interesting enough for me to observe the aftermath as this all folded as if nothing ever happened.

I first noticed the crowd getting larger and larger around the apple store, and so like most curious people I decided to check it out. Throughout this week with the release of iPad 2, you could feel in Beijing the tensions and pressures of people wanting to get one for themselves. Beyond the hundreds of observers, I noticed the large amount of security guards lined up in front of the store along with one side of the glass door to the apple store being completely shattered and gone (see photo below). You could see that the venue didn’t want any more attention and chaos as I witnessed a number of  people yelling for them to open the store since they were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to get their apple products today. Then a man came around and started sprinkling water on the clean pavement to stir the crowd away. His action inspired me to take out my camera and snap this photo. This water method worked so well that he alone cleared out almost half of the hundreds of people in a couple of minutes. 30minutes later the store was still closed but it was really as if nothing happened at all.  But nonetheless the demand for apple products here is growing substantially.


[Photo Essay] Beijing Snap Shots: One Week of Spring

If you've lived long enough in Beijing, there's one season that we all look forward to and that is Spring. Beijing in my opinion only has two seasons: Summer and Winter. Spring and fall add up to a minimal 2-3 weeks out of the year. So when Spring arrives this city becomes much more active and people enjoy this season as much as they can. This photo essay was my attempt to capture as much as the city as I could during different times of the day. From the central business district to the hutongs in Gulou: I hope that you can feel the energy level of this city in one of the best times of the year.

1. A group of men pass by a public art at the Art District in Pinguo near Shuangjing. You can see Guomao, the central business district of Beijing, in the back ground to the north-west.

2. Heading north towards Guomao is Jianwai SOHO. The white buildings are noticeable from the south end of Guomao. Jianwai SOHO has commercial, residential, and office spaces along its 18 towers and is a popular destination for workers in the area for lunch and dinner.

3. Going west from Guomao is Qianmen, one of the major shopping areas in Beijing. This photo was taken at Qianmen Street: one of Beijing's oldest commercial area that has recently been renovated.

4. A woman walks by a group of pots at one of the side streets from Qianmen Shopping Street. QIanmen is home to some of the oldest restaurants in Beijing and serves a collection of famous Chinese dishes from all over China.

5. Families enjoy a nice weekend on Qianmen shopping street.

6. The National Museum. Photo taken from the Tiananmen Square. The museum was recently re-opened after its long renovation was completed.

7. Visitors exit the forbidden city and head south towards Tiananmen Square.

8. This Underground pass connects the Tiananmen Square to the Forbidden City entrance.

9. Chinese tourists take a rest together besides the Forbidden City.

10. Chinese tourists are easy to spot with their identical caps.

11. Visitors enjoy the nice weather at the Forbidden City.

12. At the north end of the Forbidden City is the flower garden blooming with colorful flowers as you exit out.

13. Visitors glance over the Forbidden City from the top of Jingshan Park, located directly north of the Forbidden City. You can overlook most of the city of Beijing from this park.

14. Crowds gather at a local music performance at Tiantan Park, near the Temple of Heaven.

15. An Old man teaches how to dance with sticks to anyone who is interested at Tiantan Park.

16. As the weather gets warmer, more and more people can be seen at the park dancing and singing. I met people who were over ninety years old who wanted to exercise and keep healthy.

17. At Beihai Park, one of the largest imperial gardens in China on a sunny afternoon.

18. Taijiquan sessions take place daily from early morning to dawn at Beihai Park.

19. Students are walking home at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

20. A group of local high school students eat Stinky tofu together near the Drum Tower in Dongcheng District.

21. A vendor prepares pineapples to be sold by Drum Tower. You can find all sorts of fruits and small snacks in this area around the Drum Tower.

22. A hot pot restaurant attempts to attract customers as they sing songs and welcome people walking by.

23. A vendor takes a break from work. Photo taken near Nanluoguxiang.

24. Workers along Gulou Da Jie.

25. A family takes a rest in front of the Bell Tower.

26. Pedestrians make room for a car driving through the narrow commercial hutong of Nanluoguxiang.

27. Bikers and pedestrians await the green light at an intersection in Wangjing, the Korean Town of Beijing.

28. Residents of Dongcheng district enjoy a game of ping-pong. They are always looking for new contenders and they practice every day.

29. A mountain besides the Jingshanling Great Wall(located in the outskirts of Beijing) reads "Praise Chairman Mao" in white characters.

30. People rush out of Beijing heading east at Sihui during sunset. Guomao is in the background.

31. People crossing the overpass bridge at Shuangjing during sunset.

32. The dancing continues at night-time at Shuangjing bridge.


[Photo Essay] Xidan: Happy Shopping

The Xidan commercial district in Xicheng District is a booming area for shopping lovers and Chinese consumers. Compared to the shoppers who go to the newer Sanlitun area, Xidan attracts younger shoppers from around Beijing and other regions in China. Xidan, having its roots from the Ming dynasty was a venue for visitors entering Beijing from the southwest part of the city and gradually developed into one of the largest merchant areas of Beijing. Today, Xidan is a symbol of Chinese consumption and a popular hangout place for Chinese couples and families all week long.

Coming out of Beijing Subway Line 1, Xidan Station, you run straight into Cultural Square. The fountain show takes place every afternoon until dark.

People await the fountain show as they take a breather from work. You can see all sorts of people here at Cultural Square.

Fountain show begins. Looking at cultural square from the north-end.

Xidan commerical district combines multiple department stores from China and Taiwan. If you cant find what youre looking for in Xidan, then you probably wont have any luck anywhere else in China.

As it gets darker, workers who get off work come out to have dinner and day-time shoppers start to head back home. You can see the newest Apple store in Beijng in this image. The Apple store continues to be a popular destination in Xidan along with new additions of Burger King, ZARA and H&M.

These bridges make it easy for consumers to go from one department store to another.

Xidan at sunset.

Another day is over in Xidan as the lights go on at Cultural Square.


[Photos] Jumping Around the Forbidden City


[Photo Essay] 798 Art District During Blue Hour

Beijing may not have the flash of Shanghais bund view and skyline but 798 Art District is Chinas answer to Greenwich Village and SOHO in New York. This art zone is a thriving artistic community that attracts artists and visitors from in and out of China. Located in Dashanzi of Chaoyang District, Beijing, this art district and its galleries thrives among 50-year old decommissioned military factory buildings, making it interesting to look at the archetecture. This photo essay takes a look at 798 Art District during blue hour, which refers to the period at twilight in the morning and evening where there is neither full daylight nor complete darkness.

6:30pm: Man walks by a dinosaur exhibit. Visitors can interact with public art throughout the entire art zone.

6:45pm: It is starting to get darker but on the bright-side, its only during this time that one can enjoy a moment with the artwork since daytime is always crowded with visitors.

6:50pm: The outlines of this cage-exhibit is seen in contrast to the blue hour-sky.

7:00pm: One of the main galleries, 798 Space Gallery, is seen in this image.

7:15pm: This artwork is titled "Man at Work". Sky is completely blue at this moment.

8:00pm: One of the sub-factories at 798 art district is seen next to an old railroad.


[Photos] Construction Around Nanluoguxiang

Living in China is definitely one of the best choices I have made thus far in my life. Coming from a Japanese background and heavily influenced by American culture, China is the perfect place for me to play around with my lost roots and observe and feel what Japanese people have lost over the years through the daily activities of the Chinese people whom I witness. But just like every corner of the world, income gap prevails and is seen in Beijing. Behind the blue construction fences are migrant workers working day and night while the rest enjoy their shopping along side Nanluoguxiang. Photo taken at the south gate of Nanluoguxiang, one of the most well-known commercial and touristy Hutong in Beijing.


[Photos] Wangjing, the Korean Town of Beijing

One of the hidden gems of Beijing in my opinion is Wangjing (望京), which translates to ” the view of Beijing”. I doubt that this part of the city located in the north-east corner of Beijing is listed on any of the guidebooks. But my love for Korean food goes to an extent where I will be looking for the best Korean food in any foreign country I visit. In Beijing there are Korean chain restaurants like HanNaShan who serve you Korean BBQ but they don’t even have Korean beer or have no idea what Makgeolli (Korean Rice Wine) is. So very quickly I discovered Wangjing, the K-Town of Beijing. It is said that there are approximately 120,000 South Koreans in Beijing but 70,000 reside in this area. I personally would recommend the Korean food court area by the newly completed  Line 15 Wangjing Subway Station where there are buildings full of just Korean restaurants. If you reside in Chaoyang district and think that Wudaokou has the best Korean food I think you should give Wangjing a try. Here are some snap shots I came away from Wangjing the other day.

Since 1999, Koreans began to flock here in Wangjing fleeing escalating housing costs in downtown Beijing.

20 years ago the area was a plain old suburb where ox carts and bicycles plodded along dusty roads.

Signs are all in Korean, making it easy for Koreans who do not speak Chinese to reside.

A vendor sells Korean ginseng, a medical plant that helps develop human brain efficiency, in front of a Korean food court.