Alan’s Blog



Posted by Alan on November 10, 2008

Somewhere at a crossing in a Beijing university campus.


Posted in Beijing Life | 3 Comments »

Beijing huanying ni

Posted by Alan on September 23, 2008

It’s been awhile since the last update… Apparently keeping a blog up to date is hard for some people. Anyway, after seeing it’s been five months ago, I realize it’s time to write something again for all my fans. I know that after this silent period I must have lost a couple, some, maybe a bit more fans. But I have no doubt that there still are thousands of die hards who come and check my site every day, every minute. For you, especially for you, I have started writing again.

Shortly summarized, this is what has happened since my return to Beijing:

New studio
Luckily my previous landlord has a friend who still had an empty studio where I could live in. So at the same day of my arrival, I could move into my new home. But, apparently the Japanese student who lived here before me didn’t care about cleaning. It was filthy as if it hadn’t been cleaned for ages. Since I myself was to tired to clean, I hired two cleaning ladies at the cost of about €3/hour each to make it more livable.

Start of new semester
A few weeks ago the semester started. So far so good, only big change compared to last semester is the Reading class. Here we have to read a small story/article and then discuss/answer questions about it. Really interesting, but seems to be the most difficult course.

The Paralympics are amazing. As a close-to-die hard sports fanatic, this event has been the highlight of last weeks. I’ve been to the Paralympics almost every day, watching really spectacular games and venues. Despite the long travel time from my place to the Olympic Green, the massive crowds and the summer heat, the Paralympics are fantastic. I don’t even regret the hours of waiting time at the Bank of China to buy tickets. It’s been worth it. Taking a stroll on the Olympic Green area, between the beautiful Olympic buildings and stadiums each time gave me a fantastic feeling. The only thing I feel sorry about is that I haven’t seen a swimming match in the water cube… Man, I really wanted to go in there, but buying tickets for that is as difficult as…ehr, I mean, I don’t want to buy tickets from those ticket scalpers at ten times the original price.

If you haven’t seen my photos and videos yet, go to my Picasa Album and Youtube channel!

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Chaoyang Lu

Posted by Alan on April 26, 2008

What used to be a very lively part of the Chaoyang Lu, is rapidly being demolished. The reason is a road expansion. The victims are dozens of shop and restaurants owners, employees and their families…

Everyday on my way to school I cross the Chaoyang Road before entering the gate of the university. Usually in the morning people are opening up their shops, unloading vegetables from their trucks, cleaning windows; the usual morning rituals. One or two weeks ago suddenly I noticed a big truck with Gongren (“workers”) parked in front of one of the many restaurants. I didn’t realize what was going on, but slowly the bad news was spreading over the campus and students… The Beijing government is demolishing a whole row of buildings to expand the road. I heard the shop/restaurant owners have been given a couple of weeks to move their things away before the big trucks arrive to pull everything down. They haven’t been given an alternative. It’s just something they have to accept. Apparently the road works, which have already initiated last year during autumn, suddenly needed to be accompanied with an expansion of the road. And in the eyes of the Beijing government “unnecessary” buildings just have to be cleared away.

I am not sure what the victims are supposed to do. I heared that buildings might be rebuilt as soon road expansion has completed. I wouldn’t be surprised if the decision makers still don’t know what the plans are. Many owners are ofcourse angry (some restaurants have just been renovated a couple of months ago!), and last week this resulted in a protest. In front of one of the unlucky restaurants a small gathering was organized. For a while it had the character of a protest as we would see in some Western countries (blocking traffic, yelling), but it didn’t get that far that police needed to come – or at least not that I’ve seen.

Besides being a disaster for some restaurant and shop owners, it’s sad that suddenly so many restaurants have to leave – either temporarily or forever. From a personal point of view, it greatly decreases the choice of where to eat in this area. And probably the Chaoyang road will remain messy for quite some time. Sadly enough these ‘renovations’ are very common nowadays in Beijing. It has to be said, the road is quite imporant. Traffic often doesn’t flow very quickly because of the many busses that need to stop. But unfortunately so many people have to suffer from the attempt to improve this…

Some more photos in my photo album.

Posted in Beijing Life | 1 Comment »

Rain Brigade

Posted by Alan on April 21, 2008

Yesterday it rained the whole day, which is not very common for Beijing. I don’t think the roads/sewer systems are really capable of handling the huge amount of water that has fallen down from the skies recently. There are many big ponds showing up on the roads after a long period of rain; just like today. Fortunately my apartment complex has an effective solution for this problem. A Rain Brigade, that shows up as soon as it has stopped raining.

(Photo album)

Note the “rain commander” in red.

Posted in Beijing Life | 1 Comment »

Birthdays, Bitterballen and Being a tourist…

Posted by Alan on April 10, 2008

…this could be a short summary of my activities last weeks.

Three birthdays in three weeks. First in the line up was Annemarelle; we went to a restaurant where they had bitterballen! As a Dutch person, it’s almost impossible not to like them… Great nostalgia, and this ‘Beijing version’ is almost the real thing. This restaurant, “The Tree”, serves delicious pizza by the way, and there’s a big selection of Belgian beers. Åsa also had her birthday, and we celebrated it the Swedish way, with a “Fika”. Don’t know what it literally means, but I do know we should do this often! I think a “vieruurtje” or a afternoon snack is a way to describe it, but the Swedish cake made it something special! I know my Swedish friends are trying to introduce the word and activity “Fika” to the world, and I agree! Last one who had birthday was Metty. This was an Indonesian celebration all the way I guess, with lots of food and lots of laughter. First we went to a Dim Sum Restaurant at 10.30pm. After that we were pretending to go home, but silently we went over to Metty’s room to surprise her with a Tiramisu cake. After cutting/eating/taking photo’s of the cake it was time for some Indonesian slapstick; smudging her face with cake, making fun of her, luring her outside in the cold while she was in her pyjamas…

Other than eating birthday cakes I also did some sightseeing in and outside Beijing. The capital museum was nice. I especially like the impressive building, but the exhibitions are very interesting as well. They have a big collection of Chinese art, such as paintings, calligraphy, porcelain, statues and Jing Ju (Beijing opera) stuff. Great contrast: Ancient collections in a modern, stylish building.

ICS also organized an excursion to Chuandixia, which is a tiny, tiny village (population of 90) at the west of Beijing. Although there wasn’t actually that much to see in the village, I think you could make great hikes in the surrounding mountains. We had lunch in the courtyard of a Chinese family that couldn’t serve half of the dishes on the menu, probably because some ingredients were lacking. Nonetheless it was a fun day out with the Dutch and some French.

My Swedish friend, neighbour & classmate Mikaer (big music fan) has been guiding me through the Beijing music scene a bit. We managed to go to the same music club, located at the other side of the city, twice in two days. The music style there is a bit rocky/alternative. There are some very good acts and songs, but some are a danger for your two listening devices.

Last week was Qing Ming Jie (清明节), a Chinese festival. The tradition is to honour your ancestors, for example by cleaning the graves of your late familymembers (sǎo mù; lit. to sweep tomb). Jerry and I went to Fragrant Hills (close to the Summer palace). But so did thousands of others. In the end, it took us almost 4 hours to get there. The biggest problem is that there’s only one small road leading to this park and there were too many people wanting to go there. The bus we took was a hell. Everytime I take a bus that is packed I think it doesn’t get any worse than that. But last friday really was the max…After being cooked alive in the heat, pushed by people that are desperately forcing themselves into the full bus, crushed by the door several times, I can officially say that this was by far the most dreadful experience in a Chinese bus. The full bus, the jammed small road and stupid ghostriding cars made us decide just to walk to the park. And after about 45 minutes, I think we still arrived there sooner than the bus did. Finally we could start climbing the mountain. It was strange but interesting to see all the people there. Many Chinese just went up there (still a one hour climb) to relax, eat and chat. The funny thing is many of them don’t really care about the view, but just sit under a tree. And they don’t care if they have to share a tree with 20 other people, as long as they have some shade. After finding a decent spot, they start to unpack their heavy bags: sausages, instant noodles, conserved meat, sunflower seeds, fruits, drinks, potato chips; I think everyone had enough food to survive on the mountain for at least one week in case whole Beijing would be flooded.

Bitterballen!Pizza!ChuandixiaNatural tunnelFunny Noise,  Japanese band @ D-22Metty's birthdayFragrant HillsSquidBusy, busy, busy at the bus station
On our way to Xiang Shan Gong Yuan the road was very busy:

All -and larger sized- photo’s can be seen here.

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