Partly in the shade of the trees along the streetside or the many parks. In the same way I learned to know a satellite city located north of Beijing. This way I could best get to know the city, the camera always at hand.
When I entered the first supermarkets in Beijing, I was amazed about the great range of goods, design and absolute hygiene. Even months later, I´m still enthusiastic about the experiences that my eyes had made at these facilities. There are many dining and drinkable products I had never seen before in my life.
In Beijing's supermarkets you can also buy a lot of living fish or frogs, which are then taken out of the pool and slaughtered for purchase. Imports, such as exotic fruits, coffee are relatively expensive. Especially French wines. Those are luxury products. In contrast, the normal food, fruits and vegetables are very cheap for a German. Because the Chinese use for many dishes cooking oil, there are many different varieties and qualities. The same is right for rice.
Often I looked at the cakes through the display windows, which were made mostly by young women, with a mouth mask because of hygiene. And I could see through the large windows how they produced it.
Even before my departure to Beijing, I had learned with the help of a textbook and CD to speak a few Chinese key words, such as Good day, How are you ?, Thank you, Please, Excuse me, My name is, etc. Or some simple questions in a restaurant or something to order in Chinese. With this basic knowledge, I ventured then increasingly alone in the supermarkets to buy something. Thus increased my independence and gradually I went more and more my way in Beijing.
Again and again I have in mind as cleaners go over the sales floor to remove impurities or to mop the floor. During my first days in China, Germany struggled with the EHEC epidemic. That was strange to me feeling safer in Beijing. I think, many Europeans still live in the 80's, 90s, what China is concerned. Meanwhile, times have changed, new trends, changes are rapidly.
I had never previously been in my life in Asia. And now being there for three months as a foreigner among Chinese only. Much time in this city that is growing at 9% and exerted a great stress on me. It was as if I had been standing the whole time near a pulsating blast furnace. This type of growth nobody can imagine here. Constantly, almost 24 hours a day, many things in motion. Many, many people around me, especially young people. A totally different food, often provided with strong unknown spices. The gestures, the facial expressions of the people, how should I interpret that?
If I go in Berlin through the streets or take the metro, I´m not noticed. But the opposite happens in Beijing. I marched for two hours through Beijing without seeing even one foreigner. The same in the subway or the bus. Only rarely you see people coming from other continents and sometimes people stared at me a longer time. This created stress.
I enjoyed my stay in Beijing, but even after months have not fully processed it. Certainly it will affect my further life as well as my plans. Also my view on the "old" Western world. This learning hungry mass of young people. How many times I was asked to speak English with them, so they could practice a bit with me.
In the photos culinary specialties can be seen that the average Chinese can only rarely buy, if ever afford it.
The prices in yuan are sometimes evident. During my time in Beijing, I got for 1€ about € 9.2 yuan. Usually the prices refer to 500 g.
It is interesting to visit Beijing´s shopping mall, a pedestrian zone in the center. There follows one modern department store the other.
But be a little more careful with whom you get in contact. If you sit there on a bench, it may be that a friendly, younger Chinese arrives and involves you in best English in a conversation. With his good English, you should be extra careful, because behind it is often a commercial interest. This one learns quickly.
I once went with a person and landed in a small studio where I should buy something. At 20 yuan for a small document I got away. Women are often seen on the photos with a parasol. This is used constantly in Beijing, even if sometimes the sun barely penetrates the haze.
One should not forget that China is a vast country. So just during the summer many tourists come from all possible parts of the country for holiday in Beijing.
Of course it is also interesting for a foreigner once to look at large bookstores. There I bought for 1.50 € a city map of Beijing, which was my constant companion. All street names are listed both on the street signs as well as on the map in Chinese and Latin characters. The map is virtually indestructible as it is provided with a transparent plastic layer and does not wear.
I used to go to different restaurants and in neighborhoods where there were virtually no foreigners. I could see walking through Beijing, the restaurants were always well filled, even on Sunday evening. In addition to the restaurants, there are also larger or small teahouses. Here one drinks tea together with colleagues or friends, often in small booths. One is among them and can make plans. The atmosphere is very relaxed. The friendly, yes, sweet waitresses do well their part. Tea drinking is a special culture in China. The teahouses will remain a special memory for me. Why? One afternoon I walked again to the Tian'anmen Square, located in central Beijing.
A hot day. I was very thirsty. As I said a sympathetic Chinese ask me in good English. He was aged around 35 years. We had a lively conversation and walked slowly to the exit of the square. He told me that he would work in the Archaeological Museum. In a small side street in the center, he took me suddenly in a small teahouse. I ordered a beer and he for us a tea. Minutes later the glass teapot came along with small drinking glasses on the table. The tea tasted good. I was told that ginseng was inside. Slowly, I wondered, that at the front door sat a funny guy, without stirring. Otherwise, no other guests were at the tea house. It was time to pay. Tea and beer, clearly, that I invited the Chinese. When I then looked at the bill, I could not believe my eyes. The amount to be paid was 675 yuan (more than 70 €) I said I would not have so much money in my pocket. I was asked to give my 250 yuan frommy pocket. The Chinese wanted to take over the half and went ahead with his credit card. The rest of the money to the half I should give him at the cash machine. But luckily I hadn´t my credit card with me. I had been contacted by the tea house mafia, as I later learned. As a foreigner you do not know that tea in Chinese tea houses can cost several hundred €.
I was approached more often in the center of Beijing, but never again of course did fall into this trick. Also, women or young couples may be the decoys. Consistently, they all speak good English, what is in Beijing rather unusual.
On the right sits a family in one of the popular hot-pot restaurants. Small gas burners are recessed into the tables, one which are placed the pots with hot or boiling water. At the buffet the guest can choose a variety of ingredients and put them into the pots. The waitress also brings extra fish. So you can eat two hours. Beverages such as juices, ginseng, a simple wine are included. For three people I paid only 17 €.
The left photo was made in a restaurant, located right in my neighborhood, in the morning hours. It shows how the staff is lined up to receive instructions from the boss. This is typical behavior because it is a collective. Then they have breakfast together and begin their work.