Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The neither here nor there

Having been in this city for two months I am beginning to feel like I am part of the place and there are things that I really like about it. I obviously do sometimes feel a tard frustrated about how some things are around here but generally its OK. In any case most of the frustrations are a result of not being able to speak Mandarin, but that is my problem. Here are just a few musings in no particular like or dislike ranking.

Getting around
It wasn't until I came to Beijing that I realised just how much I used to spend on transportation (the public sort). Beijing has a very efficient bus system that can take you virtually anywhere in the city, if you are familiar with the bus lines and connections. This is hardly suprising that Beijing Public Transport Holdings runs over 25,000 buses. And its cheap too. 1 yuan (240 UGX) is enough for most bus journey's within the city regardless of the distance covered.

The subway is pretty good way to get around quickly too. For 2 Yuan (480 UGX) you can move anywhere and change lines as many times as possible. Though the subway doesn't cover all the city the current 4 lines ensure a quicker way to dash around.

I do not even need cash to move about as long as I have my trusty swipe card (above), which I preload and just swipe away as I get on the bus or into the subway station.

I even have a bicycle that I ride around and I know some of you must be thinking I am suicidal because you have Kampala streets in mind. Because China has a bicycle tradition, all major roads have bicycle only lanes which means that while the guys in the cars are cursing in the heavy traffic jams, I am not bothered because I know they will not try to get into my free flowing bicycle lane.

Out and about on the town
I cannot honestly say I have experienced much of what one would call a typical Beijinger's social life. Thats largely due to the fact that I haven't made that many local friends yet with whom I can hang out. But the foreigners I have met many of and the bars, and other such places I go to are usually expatriate/foreign student type places but they are fun.

There is an area called Sanlitun which I will call a clubbing ghetto, not because its sleazy and dirty but because it has twisted, narrow corridor like lanes that have so many clubs and bars. It is the place to go to on weekends for a blast. There is Salsa Caribe for latin flavours, Heat next door for good old hiphop and there is a bar across the street that sells cheap beer and plays mixed music but I cannot seem to remember the name (must have something to do with the oddly named cocktails).

There is the Uganda Crane Coffee shop which is an Ok place to chill out and talk to other Ugandans, the place becomes more of a bar than a coffee shop as the weekend nights progress. Or PiriPiri, fort to meet a generally East African crowd. There are other places too like the White Rabbit (too much techno) and Club Obiwan, which I like because it has restaurant and bar separate from the dancehall where I can drink beer and surf the net on their free WiFi 'til pretty late. The owners are always coming up with all kinds of interesting theme nights and they fight for worthy causes (check flyer)

Talking of beer. That is one thing I am liking about this place. It is so cheap (by k'la standards anyway). My favourite, Yangjing beer is ubiquitous and unpretentious and at 2.5-3 Yuan (600-720 UGX) per 600ml bottle a brother can hardly complain. There is the more expensive (classier) Tsingtao at around 1200 UGX for the same size bottle which is also quite smooth. I once made a beeline for some stout across the supermarket thinking it was canned guiness. But alas, it was only trying too hard to look like it(like so many other goods here). It was OK though, just not guiness good.

I am trying to get into the whole dining out, going to the cinema and going to the numerous parks around but this is just not in my nature so clubbing it will be for now.

More likes and not quite likes later.


Kenyanchick said...

"Fighting for a Beyonce-free Beijing since 2005?"

I LOVE it!

Anonymous said...

Wilkommen Jay...

Didn't know u were back...lemme read the post now.


Anonymous said...

There is a Ugandan bar/ really are enterprising.


Are there that many Ugandans in Beijing?

-Miss Cheri

Jay said...

Ugandans are very few. Mostly students on Government scholarships, Diplomats and their families a few business people and guys like me. But we are always seeking each other out. Hence the coffee shop Friday proggie.

The Phantom said...

that was a long year, man. but now you are back, let the good times begin.welcome back.

antipop said...

so this is who you are! i had heard the shouts of joy at your return and was so eager to seek you out.