My name is Dragriffin and welcome to today’s topic :
Wandering and Wondering
While I do live now in Beijing, there’s much of the city I don’t know about. I spend a lot of time walking here and there to discover the city. Through my aimless walks, I always experience a lot of different things. I’ve recently uploaded a video about visiting the Russian district and thought it was missing something. I want to write about me roaming around the city to get to know it a bit better.
While you roam aimlessly, you spend a lot of time thinking. Do you reflect on life? Maybe. In my case, I was thinking about the scorching heat and the sticky weather because of the humidity and the pollution. I wasn’t able to reflect on life, nor did I want to. I now try to stick a bit more to the present so I don’t miss on all the good stuff. Like the guy that comes to me while I enjoy the fresh air in a mall and starts talking to be about my camera and if I want to buy a “real” authentic watch. We’re in a mall dude… Why are you trying to sell it like if we were on the streets of New York?! There’s a lot of stores in the Ritan International Mall, mainly cloths and furs. The dread looking at all those furs and thinking of the heat outside. Just thinking about it made me melt a little. So I have this guy that randomly tries to sell me a watch while I also discover this beautiful, yet empty mall in the Russian District. I briefly mentioned it in my video. Here’s more details on it.
It’s a fashion mall full of Russian brands (that I don’t know of) with an absurd number of stores and yet, the mall is amazingly empty. It’s weird because the other malls I’ve seen here in Beijing are usually quite full. Beijingers are shopaholics. They buy online, they buy in stores, the buy all the time. And yet, this mall was empty. Prices seem to be fair. Maybe it was because it’s simply falling apart. I’m not exaggerating here. It’s literally falling apart. The tiles on the floor move when you walk on them (someone forgot to glue them). Some tiles fall from the ceiling (someone forgot to glue them too). Electricity is working in random places (someone forgot to do the wiring) and you have cables dangling from the ceiling. It’s such a big mall and the “surface” material seem to be of good quality. But everything else inside is rather ominous. Like the guy selling me “real” watches. I didn’t stay long. I was, after all, there only for the cold A/C breeze before hitting again the wall of heat outside.
While I kept walking, I also found the “worker’s stadium”. On the map, it seemed to indicate a coffee shop and I was quite excited to get there. To my biggest surprise, or disappointment, or not even that surprised, the whole section with the stores around the Worker’s stadium is closed off, abandoned and falling apart. That’s were you understand something about Beijing. They build so fast, that when something crumbles they don’t bother maintaining it because they will build another one right next to it (FYI, there are two stadiums about 10 minutes away from the Worker’s stadium). And sometimes, they start a project and it seems to halt right in the middle. Like there’s this place that looks stunning. Like a movie theater that has IMAX and all. But the sections on both sides of the main building are empty. They glued the windows in and let it be. It’s completely empty. And I’ve been told many times that for people here, appearances mean everything. I guess it goes for the buildings as well.
The only way to really connect with the culture is not by looking at the big buildings or malls, but by stopping in the small restaurants where you see the locals. I myself found a place I really like that makes “Beijing bean pancake”. It’s an old man that’s there, always smiling, always working, always so happy. He’s the only one I buy my “bean pancake” from. What is a bean pancake you might ask? Well it’s a bundle of joy wrapped in a pancake with chicken and eggs and/or something that might be a pork sausage (we’re doing “the don’t ask, don’t tell policy” here). All of this is fried on a heated plate for your pleasure with a lettuce and sesame and of course some spicy sauce. It’s the perfect “I don’t have time” or “I am to lazy to cook” meal at a raging price of 16RMB (that’s $3.50 Canadian). You get your protein, you get your veggies and the happy smile of this old man that’s there 7 days a week, from morning till 10PM.
Today’s item on the list:
Try Beijing’s pancake street food.
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*For your convenience, I will start to put my video’s here too. Less jumping around on the web. Enjoy!*