On Sprawl

Beijing Travel Blog

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Well, since I've been reading and learning soooooo much on urban sprawling in the Sierra Club, it seems like everything I hear and see is sprawling.
Apparently Beijing is HUGE, but it's also very spread out. Everyone was telling me that you cannot live by just walking. Many people have bikes and more have cars. I believe the government is discouraging motorcycles. Yet still, my first thought was, thats bad!, but then I also started to think, o wait, there are so many people in a city, spreading out is inevitable. Look at Hong Kong, a city that cannot spread because of its geography, it is so crowded and invading the water spaces. But, I am guessing it is also a very energy efficient city since most people uses public transportation or get around on foot.
It got me thinking, how can we compromise living quality, i.e. not over-crowding, air pollution, and a compact living communities?
Have I also mentioned China is quite energy efficient than the US? At least they don't leave the lights on all the time. Come to think of it, the reason is, I guess, the size of this country and the population. If everyone just leaves the lights on, think of how much electricity is required, and all the GHG emitted. I can't even imagine the magnitude of it.
O boy, the environment. By the way, air quality isn't as bad as I thought, maybe that's just because I am not in the city center.
Let me try to figure out how to register now.
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Today was quite eventful.
First we spent the whole morning and afternoon doing all our paperwork, figuring HOW and WHERE to eat, running back and forth from the supermarket, banks stuffs etc. We did get a lot done.
I finally got a bike, but then it broke at night. Ugh. Just now the cab driver said we could get a used bike for 50 yuan. I am pissed. Owell.
It was definitely a new experience. I think it's just a matter of getting used to, like how I got used to being American (?!).
Must say thanks to Aunty Janet. She took me from the airport to her apt, got me dinner, let me sleep at her daughter's bed (it was a cute room, btw), and brought me to the school this afternoon.
Everything is new to me, I must say. Even though I am from HK, I still felt like it's a whole different system here.
Back to the school, I almost couldn't get into the dorms because I didn't have the original school admission letter; it is in NYC. Somehow Simon got a professor to "take" me and now I finally got admitted. Still need to go figure out all the paperwork tmr.
My roommate is Hanni, a Germany-born-Chinese. She speaks English well, and she speaks Mandarin, too. We also met a guy from England. His name is Richard. He is very talkative. Haha. I had some tea, some Chinese tea, mindya, in his room. He has lived in mainland China probably longer than me. ha.
We'll keep seeing. And yes, this sentence does not make much grammatic sense but it's 12:15 in the morning and I haven't quite finished packing and I am already thinking about what I should do tomorrow.
Oh also, I've got a cold. I have NO IDEA how I got it since it wasn't cold AT ALL. Well, it's probably because of the cold and the fact that I've been screaming my butt off for the past 2 days, now I have a sore throat and running nose. Have I mentioned I sound like a man, AGAIN?
Will upload pics later, when I feel like it and when I actually hv good pics.
OMG, i think my English is already getting worse. I really needa keep up with my English here, and learning also the BJ Mandarin.

I am loving my room. There is EVERYTHIng, a TV, desk, chair, enough clothing space, trash can, curtains, bed sheets, pillow, blanket, and have I mentioned, HOUSE-FRIGGIN-KEEPING!!!! Yes, everyday there's a cleaning lady in my room, and do what? CLEAN! I'm living life now, I'm telling you. This is an AWESOME dormitory.
Yesterday we got so much done. Paperwork, supermarket, bike (YES! I finally have a bike! I couldn't imagine myself cycling), more paperwork, and then went out to wangfujing 王府井 to meet up with Hanni's German friends. It was alright, except I ate scorpios. Yup, you've heard it, scorpios. It was just a random decision; I definitely was not planning on it. It tasted like shrimp shells, just a lot of shells. It was hard to first get it into my mouth, but after that, it was just like eating... shrimps.
This morning, we were supposed to go to the Great Wall non-touristy tour with her friends, but of course, we didn't wake up early enough and they left without us. We ended up doing a LITTLE bit of shopping and went to Tian'anmen Square and the front door of the Forbidden City. It was when I just realized, or should I say, it suddenly hit me that I am Chinese and all the history behind my country.
We bought a ticket to the tower of Tian'anmen and we walked upstairs. When we first got into the tower-room type of space, I thought the room was really tacky. There were those Chinese chairs nicely lined up with yellow, probably gold lining cushions, and really Chinese paintings on the walls. One word: tacky. Then I thought it would do no harm to actually read the "history" of Tian'anmen. Apparently, my arrogance came into place. The history started with the invasion of the eight countries. It started to get really overwhelming when they said those armies completely robbed "the treasures from the Ming Dynasty, all food storage...", all nice, useful things basically. The amount robbed was immeasurable. Call me naive, but suddenly I become quite nationalistic. I questioned my decision to stay in a nation, a culture which has done so much harm to my country. (I can't believe I just said that, either) As I read along, and was reminded of my incomplete knowledge of Chinese history which I've learned from school, it really hit me that modern Chinese history was all about social unrests, wars, defeats, tragedies. It was overwhelming; I was really sad - my country has such a tragic history. Yes, tragic. THen I thought myself, hey, look at this, now everyone can't wait to please China, to get a piece of its enormous economic power. Ha, then I was delighted.
Walking down the stairs, I saw many people, apparently not rich, if not very poor. I am guessing that they are already wearing their best to come visit Beijing, still, I wouldn't have even worn it to bed. Poverty, yet again, screaming in front of my eyes. This time, it really made a stronger statement; it jst felt so much more urgent and needed to be solved asap. I think the reason is because those people look like me, speak the same (almost) language as me, act like me (somewhat), but most of all, they really look like me, and they are a part of me. Not that I was not sympathetic to other ethnicities in poverty, but seeing my own people, who actually look like me, in poverty suddenly became a much more at-home problem. I guess it should be no surprise. The power of race.
Speaking of looking alike, I feel like that people here are a manifestation of me. Okay, I might have overestimated myself (O boy, the arrogance), but I feel like I might be the Dr Jekyll and some people I see here are Mr Hyde. The difference is simply due to our backgrounds; nonetheless, the people here are the more honest version of me.
Enough spritual journey in one day. I can't stand it.
Btw, have I mentioned my bike keeps breaking? How annoying, but compared to having no place to stay, this is NOTHING.
photo by: Deats