Here is a post I never got past the draft phase from my month in China. I probably ran out of time on my internet card. Really should have brought a netbook… Anyway, I hope you like reading about the mysterious facts about Beijing.
Sidewalks and public transit in Beijing
So I’ve heard of how hectic it can be trying to navigate sidewalks and streets in big cities and have seen it for myself in like New York or sometimes even Chicago. However, nothing could have prepared me for Beijing. Sidewalks are a luxury here, at least in the part of the city I’m staying in. On the big streets, you walk on what I think are supposed to be bike lanes. I assume that’s what they are since they’re separated from the rest of the street. These strange semi-sidewalks are shared by bikes, pedestrians, and even some cars. Since it rains or “mists” here almost every day, there are generally giant puddles on the ground that need to be avoided as well. And the Chinese sense of “personal space” is very different. I find myself swerving to avoid running into people while they all seem to navigate with ease. While staring me down without any sense of the fact that I can see them too.
Then there’s the subway. Again, not much personal space. I frequently get jostled on the way in and out of the car, but once the car is loaded, everyone seems to find the exact same amount of space for themselves. I am never pushed up against another person. Very occasionally you’ll see someone not get on the train, but everyone seems to fit in. Maybe they just push away from me because I’m the awkwardly shaped person they don’t know what to do with. But I really do think that they all find some personal space. The bus is an entirely different story, as one can tell from reading my post on an especially humorous bus experience, but everyone just seems to get on the train in an orderly and equal fashion.
But for some reason, I could not get over this entire lack of sidewalk. It’s almost like it’s assumed people will not walk places. In fact, people sleep in bunkbeds in temporary huts either on the street or where the sidewalk should in theory be. Once I accidentallly saw a man brushing his teeth in his boxers. One word: awkward. So, if anyone goes to Beijing, particularly in the district near Peking University, let me know if they’ve solved the sidewalk situation…
PS I apologize for the 70’s-like look of the video. This was the quality my camera gave me, which considering that is not bad…