After a super wordy last post, we’ll keep it light today with pictures!
I imagine that most tourists come to Beijing to see the few big sites – Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden Palace, the Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, and the Great Wall. And maybe in the evenings, they go grab some drinks in the Sanlitun party district. But beyond these must-see attractions lies a Beijing with peaceful, yet lively residential communities. It’s in these communities where all the “life” happens, with all the daily-going-ons and bustle (and laziness) of the day.
I’m really enjoying observing how the locals live in Beijing. Life here is slow and tranquil (though living with my grandma is probably giving me a skewed perspective). Most of these pictures are taken within and around my grandma’s neighborhood, with a few from my explorations around Beijing. I hope through these, you can experience Beijing in a different way.
So what does life in Beijing look like in a small residential community?
The community parks are the hottest social locales for retirees. Every morning, grannies (and gramps!) gather to partake in group dancing activities, tai-chi, or even sword dancing! This is something that can be seen in almost any park in the city and everyone is welcomed to join!
And some parks draw a younger crowd. I think this may be salsa?
Ti jian (踢毽) is also a popular sport, with the literal translation of “kick shuttlecock”. The goal of this sport is to well… kick the shuttlecock (weighted and often decorated with feathers) and keep it in the air for as long as possible by using just the feet. This is mostly played with a group of people, or can be played alone too!
This is actually a competition sport in China (which is kind of funny to me). It’s a lot harder than it looks! I don’t think I can even do 3 in a row.
Most parks also have ping pong tables… the unofficial Chinese national sport. I think it’s a requirement that you must know how to play ping pong to live in China.
Dancing and sports aside, that’s not all that goes on at parks. Come the afternoon and you’ll see a different kind of activity. You can find dozens of people engaged in intense games of mahjong. I thought they are actually playing with real money, but my mom corrected me and said that they’re retirees passing the time in their leisurely retired life. (And that China cracks down on public gambling now.)
Mahjong is a great game to play to keep the mind sharp and the hands nimble, as well as a chance to socialize and have a few laughs. I’ve lost many evenings (and sometimes whole days) to playing mahjong with my family, though from the comfort of home :).
A fluffy chow chow waiting patiently while his human plays mahjong.
The little community street is lined up with all kinds of shops on the first floor… everything from grocers to butchers to tailors to household items. It’s super convenient to walk down and do all your errands and shopping in just one block. But sadly, the local government is tearing these shops away in order to restore them back to residential units.
Cars parks on the sidewalk because there are too many cars and not enough spaces.
A clothing shop selling winter gear. If I lived here, I’d have such a huge collection of cute winter jackets.
A tiny grocer selling on a tarp:
The dough shop where we buy fresh dumpling wrappers:
A shop selling dates and other dried fruit. Dates are HUGE in China. You’ll see them on the streets and in stores anytime of the year, which is great for me because I LOVE dates. The unit of weight used in China is the jin (斤), which is equal to half a kilogram or roughly 1.1 pounds.
One thing I always find amusing is how people would just hang out their clothes to dry on the street, bras and panties and all!
Meat hanging outside. I think this is lamb. Lamb is a super popular meat in Beijing.
A pretty stray cat who stayed still long enough to pose for a photo:
But stray cats aren’t all you may come across. Here’s a random rooster.
Our favorite breakfast spot in the community. On weekends when we’re lazy to make breakfast, we’ll grab some steamed buns and silk tofu soup from here. This place has been here for forever and is always packed in the mornings. Before I took this picture, all the tables outside were full. And there’s always a small line of to-go orders.
One of the grocers in the community. I like the habit of everyday going out to buy groceries for the day. This way, our food is always fresh!
Our nuts & dried fruit little shack. They make the BEST roasted sunflower seeds here. I’ve been eating them like crazy.
I shall end here with a picture of this chubby dog. Why so sad?!
I hope you enjoyed this peek into local Beijing! I really love the sense of community here and the almost small-town feel, despite Beijing being a humongous city. If it weren’t for the awful smog, it won’t be a bad place to live. :P
Are any of these similar to how your city is like?
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