Hot and Cold in Beijing

In Beijing the beer is cold, its also very very cheap, and sold on every street corner.

The food is piping hot, and so far, tastes pretty fantastic. The best was beef with chili and cumin. It reminded us of lamb kebabs we once ate, by befriending a picnic of 20 Kurhgestany men picnicking at a camp ground in Rapid Bay, South Australia. No kidding, they had brought a real carpet, and coal fired cooker on their picnic. I have been trying to replicate the taste ever since and failing miserably. Today we had it!


There was one dish that came cold, with the chicken all gelatinous and oily. Mmmmmm, cold oil. At the night market, we saw drinks with dry ice…

and spicy hot seahorses and scorpians….still wriggling. Poor things!

One hot day, we retreated into an air conditioned restaurant for lunch. We parked a sweltering Sparky in her wheelchair closest to the air-con, and the staff were keen to ensure the fan was pointed away from her. Cool refreshing air, no! Go away! Bad cool refreshing air!!

The weirdest thing that happened involved Sparky’s blended food. We asked the hotel staff to keep it in their fridge. When we asked for it out again, they microwaved it first! When we exclaimed ‘its hot’ they called the manager over to explain children shouldn’t be given cold food, so they thought they’d better warm it for her. This made a mess of things for us, Sparky has her food little and often, and carrying around a warmed up container on a hot day is not a good idea.

Having no fridge, we have resorted to buying 1 yuan lemon icy-poles and using them as ice-bricks. All over Tien’amen square people were selling icy-poles to tourists, along with red flags and paper hats. One lady was selling badges, she surreptitiously pulled her samples from her hand bag each time the guard wasn’t looking, and hassled a few tourists. When he turned his head, she snuck them back in her bag and walked on, as if she was out enjoying the (lack of) fresh air and (lack of) sunshine.

We did have a gloriously hot and clear day in which to visit the Forbidden City.  So hot, in fact, we bought this rather dashing hat/umbrella to keep the sun off…

Hot blokes wander the streets with their t-shirts pulled up to expose their tummies, but women wear hot jeans and those funny little sockettes under their high heeled sandals.

Cold clay pots of yoghurt are sold all over, for 3 yuan. We stood in the street and sucked the yoghurt with straws pierced thru the paper lid on the pots, then handed them back.


After two weeks in Perth, being really cold, and borrowing warm clothes, and buying thermals for Mongolia but wearing them straight away, and enjoying the washing up because it warms our hands, we are now sweltering.

The sun looks funny, kind of like the dying sun in The Magicians Nephew. It’s really just the pollution filling up the atmosphere. It looks so thick that the far end of a long street is a blurr. The air is full of cigarette smoke, even in trains and restaurants.

Normal day with smog and poor visibility

Rare clear day following torrential rain

The sight of hundreds of bikes filling the streets of Beijing is long gone, now the streets are full of cars, 1000 new cars hit the streets every day, apparently. A few bikes remain, and a few electric bikes and electric scooters. These are dangerous! Not because they go fast, they don’t. But they glide silently!! We can’t hear them coming behind us! The taxi drivers seem to take an objection to us, so we’ve done A LOT of walking. And we’ve caught the bus and the subway, both were delightfully air-conditioned.

The Beijing subway fails miserably for wheelchair accessibility, Why would you design an underpass with a ramp for the entry but not for the exit? Does the underpass have healing powers, such that any one who goes down one side in a wheelchair is miraculously able to walk up the steps on the other? Didn’t work for us. And sadly, it doesn’t work for the homeless guys with disabilities who live down there.

There was this very excellent wheelchair lifter at one station, Sparky loved it, and drew a huge crowd of admirers.

So, how do we like Beijing? Its huge, busy, noisy, and we understand basically nothing written or spoken. Apart from that, we are warming to it!

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4 Responses to Hot and Cold in Beijing

  1. April August 30, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    Wow, I was just in Beijing. Of course, if I had run into you on the Great Wall, I would probably have fallen off from sheer shock. My sister and I were waiting for the Subway and looked down to see the handicapped symbol at one of the entry-points to the actual train, and we wondered how on earth handicapped people got down there in the first place. And with three children, we couldn’t get a taxi to save our lives. Living in Tianjin, it is tricky for us to get a taxi, but not impossible (I usually stick to the motorcycle taxis because they always welcome the children with open arms). I must admit that I felt a bit of bitterness in my heart toward the Beijing taxi drivers and vowed not to rely on them ever again. I still cherish a hope that I might catch a glimpse of your brave, adventurous family.
    April recently posted..Surrounded…My Profile

    • Jill August 30, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

      Hi April, we’ll be back in Beijing soon, where are you now?

      Taxi’s won’t touch me either!

  2. Greg September 1, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    It’s good you’re warming to Beijing, but it will be great when you’re out of there. There are many more pleasant and charming places in China!
    Greg recently posted..The Great Wall of SaladMy Profile

  3. Deb @ Bright and Precious October 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm #

    Jill! I’m so behind in your stories! I’m just catching up with China now… I can see I have many posts to go! Can’t wait. Blown away by the power of your photos yet again..
    Deb @ Bright and Precious recently posted..Real Men Wear SkirtsMy Profile

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