Beijing Backpacking, Day 30: Getting One Last Glimpse of Everything

ONE OF THE most beautiful things I find about the Chinese language is how it expresses its pearls of wisdom: in its four-character phrases, known in the native language as chengyu. Never has there been a more succinct yet beautiful way to express the realities of life; many of them use metaphor and allegory to … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 30: Getting One Last Glimpse of Everything

Beijing Backpacking, Day 29: Young And Hitting The Ground Running

I GET THIS sense, whenever I am travelling alone or purely with other young people, that travel is about the thrill of packing in as many memorable experiences in back-to-back in the shortest amount of time. Dare I say that travel was one of the inspirations for one of my life philosophies of constantly striving … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 29: Young And Hitting The Ground Running

Beijing Backpacking, Day 28: Good Company is the Best Way to Pass Time

A FEW WEEKS ago I sought hallmarks of Chinese heritage and architecture at one of Beijing’s main railway stations, only to be bitterly disappointed at the fact that the entire concourse is transit, for ticketed passengers only. This time, on my way out of Beijing for a few days, I had the opportunity to check … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 28: Good Company is the Best Way to Pass Time

Beijing Backpacking, Day 27: A “Unique Shopping” Experience?

I HAD A particularly interesting conversation with one of my new friends a couple of weeks ago. A remark she made to me made me feel like my quest for tradition seemed almost puritanical in nature, that I had been guilty of making the same dichotomy between the valuable ‘traditional’ and consumerist ‘globalised’, that I … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 27: A “Unique Shopping” Experience?

Beijing Backpacking, Day 20: Metro Art, Signs of the Times

THE SUBWAY SEEMS to be one of the most mundane parts of everyday life for city dwellers. But put yourself in the mindset of a traveller and the subway could be one of the most overlooked parts of a city’s history. Although it has rapidly expanded in the past 10 years and in the wake … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 20: Metro Art, Signs of the Times

Beijing Backpacking, Day 17: Regardless of the Contrast, Music is The Universal Language

MUSIC IS MY catharsis. Wherever I go, it is the bridge between experiencing the local culture and globalisation, the authentically local and the familiar. I’ve made it a habit to visit a music bar at least once, preferably at least twice, wherever I go. Often the genres are very similar: rock, classical, jazz; with the … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 17: Regardless of the Contrast, Music is The Universal Language

Beijing Backpacking, Day 16: When The Sky Is Blue, Where The Sky Is Blue

AIR POLLUTION SEEMS to be a hallmark of Beijing that regularly makes the news. To be fair, it has its good days and particularly bad days. It’s also aggravated in summer, where haze can lock in the stickiness or humidity – and it’s a humidity different from that which you would find in coastal areas … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 16: When The Sky Is Blue, Where The Sky Is Blue

Beijing Backpacking, Day 8: The Chinese Take On The Western Menu

ON TUESDAY we landed ourselves in a Western land of Chinese taste for dinner. Daring to go deeper, we found ourselves in as deep a heartland as we could find the next day. Well, this time, we’ve taken this one full circle – now exploring how the Chinese take on cuisines from around the world. And this time, it’s … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 8: The Chinese Take On The Western Menu

Beijing Backpacking, Day 7: The Ultimate Hole In The Wall

If the first day of the week was about Chinese cuisine adopting the Western fast food format, today we hit the other extreme. When you’re hungry on your way home, sometimes you just have to point at a random subway station and take a gamble on what’s there. This joint is in Liuliqiao, the intersection … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 7: The Ultimate Hole In The Wall

Beijing Backpacking, Day 6: A Western Way of Delivering Local Food

ISN’T IT STRANGE how the moniker ‘fast food’ almost gives every element of the business model a mandatory association with McDonald’s? We were recommended to a local joint for a quick bite while we were in the southwestern fringe of the city and were told to expect some local cuisine served from China’s western regions. … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 6: A Western Way of Delivering Local Food