Phreaky Essays: The North City


So, Beijing! The expectations were messed up: first, the cold weather (it was a real

So, Beijing! The expectations were messed up: first, the cold weather (it was a real
cold winter – something that can be never felt in Israel); second, the people (we never
spoke to Chinese people before, not including the Embassy in Tel-Aviv); third,
the tonal Mandarin language (if you try to learn it – each lesson will be like a
singing lesson); forth (the last but not least) – some associative parallels with the childhood (both me and my girlfriend were born in a former Soviet Union country).

Of course, the curiosity was global, since every province in China carries its own unique atmosphere and language dialect (or totally different language in some places). But Beijing was like a gateway to every single question we were about to ask and also
the very first place to practice the first Mandarin phrases, learned from the audio
lessons (we’ve started right away, asking the way to the youth hostel :)

To feel the city, we’ve tried to choose the most non-touristic way we could: first,
we never took a taxi and tried to walk or use the public transport to experience and to
communicate, second, we never ate in touristic restaurants, simply to taste the most of
the local food (not including pork from obvious reasons :), third, we’ve “enjoyed” the
organized tour only once (to the Badaling section) and the last, we continued to shoot like crazy through all our lomo and non-lomo cameras :)

I won’t count about the touristic attractions and parks here – there is a plenty of and
all those are must-to-see if you have time. Regarding the less known ones – the first
is the 798 Art Zone and the second is Xicheng district – a trendy place, where the young
people are hanging around (the very small, but brave Beijing Lomo shop is located
nearby and I can certainly make a very good statement about a very friendly and curious
Lomo ambassador we’ve had a pleasure to meet).

The second highlight for us were the public parks, where people were playing games,
dancing, practising tai-chi (or wushu – sorry, I can hardly make a difference) and
sometimes simply singing for themselves (pleasantly and pretty loudly).

The most interesting memories are about people: “Hello, excuse me, where are you from?
Is it your first day in Beijing? I am a student, studing calligraphy and there is an
art exhibition right around a corner, would you mind to looka-looka?” Well, also lots
of very kind people really really helped us to make a reservations in future hostels, to find the directions and to translate our Mandarin into something the others were really able to understand.

Aaaaah! Of course, our new friends Zhang and his better half Wang :) – we’ve got in touch absolutely in a random way via MySpace – Zhang is a music producer, running a Chinese label, called Bypass . He also maintains a Chinese blog
about electronic music all around the world. Me makes music as Total Reboot
project. We’ve all got several very relaxed meetings together, trying to ask myriads of
questions while eating the very spicy food and consuming a 58% – strong drink (“Er-Gua -
Tou” is definitely a must!).

It took 9 days till we started to quench our first touristic thirst and we’ve took a
hard seat train to reach Datong – another place, totally different from everything
we’ve seen before and to meet very good friends, but more on that in the future essays :)

written by breakphreak on 2009-01-02 in #news #china #essay #diana


  1. makeyuu
    makeyuu ·

    <3 china

  2. maxpinckers
    maxpinckers ·

    is this all with the diana F?
    Your shots are amazing!
    I love the dancer, everythingin the picture fits perfectly together.

  3. adi_totp
    adi_totp ·

    cool shots!! agree with maxpinckers.. your diana shots are lovely!

  4. saviorjosh
    saviorjosh ·

    welcome to beijing! it seems you enjoyed it a lot. cheers.:)

  5. saviorjosh
    saviorjosh ·

    PS: To be exact, "Beijing" in Chinese means the Northern Capital.:)
    We have another city named Nanjing which means the Southern Capital.
    "Tokyo" in Chinese (and Japanese) means the Eastern Capital.

    PS2: You can tell the difference between taiqi and wushu (martial arts) by simply seeing how fast people move their body. in taiqi, people move very slowly while in wushu people often move very fast.

  6. emonemo
    emonemo ·

    Amazing photos! The first two shots are definitely winners, especially the first pic, with the multiple layers of images and stories behind them. I enjoyed your commentary on the city too!

  7. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    thanks! soooo encouraging to read those comments! yep, all those shots were made with Diana F+.

    @saviorjosh: Thanks a lot for clarifying, though this time I've allowed to myself to choose "city" just because the essay style. Also, I know that Kaifeng was once called "Dong Jing" too, is that true? Thanks also for explaining the difference and most of all you are very right - we've enjoyed a lot and are still on the road (currently in Internet Cafe near Wuyi Shan)

  8. saviorjosh
    saviorjosh ·

    Yes, exactly, Kaifeng was once called "dong jing". You know a lot of Chinese history. :)
    Wow, you are in Wuyi Shan? I never visited it. But once I travelled to Xiamen and Gulangyu in Fujian Province. Good luck with the rest of your journey!

  9. breakphreak
    breakphreak ·

    Wuyi Shan is charming, though I've expected a bit more :) And the river is shallow now. The Da Hong Pao is perfect (when it's about "ta zhing" - high grade - not sure about Pinyin :) The mushrooms.... ahhhh... the mushrooms are delicious:)

    Now we are on the way to Guilin. Could not get a direct tickets, so spending a day in Nanchang - which is very unexpected for us too :)

    More essays will follow.

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