I just realize I can change the layout to give this more width. Much better. I still don’t understand why it won’t expand to fill the width of the browser, but baby steps I guess.
There are lines of taxi at common pick-up locations. To save gas, these guys push their cars up the line rather than drive.
I call these MASH tents. You see them in all sorts of places. This one is actually next to a construction project of an ultra-modern building (not that you could tell from the scaffolding of the building). Workers actually live there while working on the project. Workers come from outside the city, and just live on-site. I’d hazard a guess that they don’t make too much money.
When I first saw this, I was just walking around the city. It was actually a very sunny day, and this seemed like an excellent source of shade, albeit one over-engineered by a few orders of magnitude. The thing is enormous. I didn’t know it at the time, but we eventually picked an apartment complex to live in that is right behind this. On both sides are buildings that make up a mall. The mall is also underground, thus connecting what seem to be disconnected buildings from the surface.
So I was back at the apartment for one final look before signing a contract, and after I was done, I came back here to find a restaurant for dinner. I was completely blown away to discover that the shade structure is actually… (scroll down)
the largest video display I’ve ever seen! And facing downward no less. It was hard to find an angle that really showed the scale. I’m not sure even this does it.
Beijing has an interesting concept of grass. To be fair, I have seen some real grass, but this kind of "grass" is also very common. Thousands of plugs, all planted one-by-one by hand.
Um, why are there some windows knocked out in this building? There haven’t been any storms recently. It’s not a rough neighborhood. In fact, why is the whole building fenced off? Well, it’s vacant, that’s why? "But it looks new!" That’s right. I’ve seen a fair number of buildings that looks fairly new, but are unoccupied, and look to have never been occupied. I don’t know the full story, but piecing together stories that I’ve heard, there’s some corruption around construction loans where if you know the right banker, you can get a construction loan, and then later default on it when the building is almost done, with no negative repercussions. More on corruption later.
There are many ways to get around town. Bus is by far the most common. That’s seen anyway. I haven’t tried the taxi yet, as it’s not convenient from my temp housing. Bicycles are also extremely common. I need to get a good picture showing how many there are. Imagine there’s a bike race going on all the time, and that’s about how many bikes there are. The are also lots of taxis of course. Thankfully they’re plentiful enough that they’re pretty easy to get. Taxis actually come in a number of varieties. Regular cars are on the high end. Below that you have motorcycles with compartments, like the one in the picture. Well, not really like this one. This is the nicest one I’ve seen, which is why I took the picture. The is like the Mercedes of cycle cabs.
There’s a street near me called (I’m not making thus up) "Super Bar Street" with (you guessed it) a bunch of bars and restaurants. On my way back from dinner, this particular bar cracked me up. Somehow I think a bar called GUNMAN BAR with a neon dude holding an assault rifle wouldn’t fly too well in the States. You probably won’t see this bar on the tourist circuit.
The Chinese have some way cool inventions. Check out the amazing folding fork! And it comes with the ramen no less! Now that’s progress. Also, I was shocked in the elevator at work. One of the features that I’ve been saying for years that elevators should have is the ability to UNpress a button if it was pressed by mistake. Well, my building has it. If you push a floor that’s already lit, it flashes for a few seconds. If you don’t press it again, it goes back to just lit (no change). But if you press it again while it’s flashing (i.e. twice in a row) then it goes off. Genius!
"Bottled water is for drinking only, please do not use it for humidifier." Everything seems policed at work. This is a completely different feel from MS in Redmond. In Beijing, I can’t get cups, napkins, plates/forks/utensils, notebooks, pens, etc. without knowing the secret person and the secret password. They’re literally locked. Oh, and the uniformed guard that stands full-time next to the receptionist adds to that feeling as well. The funny thing about the water (and all drinks) is that there’s barely anything in the fridge (they stock it with a strict limited supply every morning, to control the amount that gets consumed), but at "important" meetings with managers, the "ayis" bring individual cans of drinks into the meetings for people. Like, wouldn’t it have been easier for me to just get my own drink (if there still were any) frim the fridge before the meeting? But no, that’s not possible, because I know neither the secret code nor the secret handshake. These drinks they bring do not come merely form the fridge. These come from a special reserve somewhere saved especially for meetings.
There are lot of random little things which I find cool or interesting, such as this glass lazy susan, and the glass bowl on top that not only has liquid and flowers in the bowl, meaning on top of the bowl, but also liquid and flowers in the bowl meaning fully contained inside the bowl itself.
Interesting little park (Ritan Park) where apparently men come and hang out and fish. This park is a few blocks from where we’ll live.
Same park. Different pond.
There’s an enormous walled-in bricked area in the park. I’m not sure for what. There’s a platform in the middle, like for some center of attention, but small enough that I can’t imagine it being for any kind of performance other than maybe speech. I think nowadays maybe people just fly kites in there or something. Because of the wall, I couldn’t get the whole thing. This is only about 1/2.
One of the exits to the above area:
And an exit to the park itself:
And last but not least for today, Beijing is interesting in that it is growing up so fast. There lots of cool modern buildings and places. But they’re strewn all over the city, leaving pockets of older areas sitting around, waiting to be leveled for the next skyscraper. As I left the park and continued my walk, I passed this, which only seemed interesting because there are decent buildings right nearby. Obviously they’re vacant (I assume).
Oh yeah, also note the bicycle with the cart on the back. These are extremely common. You see them everywhere.