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 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 25: Being Yourself, Not Caring, and Fitting In

IT’S A GIVEN in any country that there will be everyday practices you’re not used to. The particularly interesting thing about China, however, is that there is this paradox of a culture where individuals are all expected to continue to this overarching social cohesion; while at the same time, their more superficial public behaviours show … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 25: Being Yourself, Not Caring, and Fitting In

IT’S A GIVEN in any country that there will be everyday practices you’re not used to. The particularly interesting thing about China, however, is that there is this paradox of a culture where individuals are all expected to continue to this overarching social cohesion; while at the same time, their more superficial public behaviours show … More

Beijing Backpacking, Day 23: Drawing the Line Between Tourism and Lifestyle

FIRSTLY, I WISH to send my apologies to all of you who have supported me so far. As you know Internet in China is patchy and keeping the posts regular has been a challenge. But I will continue with the posts and now that I am somewhere with better internet, I will soon be able … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 23: Drawing the Line Between Tourism and Lifestyle

Day 21: Young, Adventurous and (looking to be) Trendy

A China-based Japanese arranges with an Australia-based Southeast Asian to host a Hong Konger and his two Chinese comrades at a Korean restaurant. The waiters and waitresses are a mix of Chinese and Korean (but mostly Korean). The Japanese, Southeast Asian and Hong Konger are friends or acquaintances; but the Japanese and the Southeast Asian … More Day 21: Young, Adventurous and (looking to be) Trendy

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 15: Somewhere Between West and East, in the Middle of Tradition

Last week I went full circle on food between Western and Chinese, in formats old and new. But even for a country like China where tradition dies hard, there is no escape from the clutch of globalisation. Bit unlike the pure Western influence that may comes from unabashed Western cuisine in a tourist area behind … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 15: Somewhere Between West and East, in the Middle of Tradition

Beijing Backpacking, Day 10: From The Old To The New, Real To The Manufactured

YESTERDAY I GOT a glimpse of how architectural contrasts provide unique insight into a city’s history. Today, I was blessed for the opportunity to have local friends take me to their Beijing. There’s a certain exoticism you’d think of, considering the cultural differences between you and the locals you meet. But as fellow young people, … More Beijing Backpacking, Day 10: From The Old To The New, Real To The Manufactured