HHS Center is pleased to welcome our newest arrivals from across the globe.
Our newcomers include:
Iselin from NorwayEmily from the U.K.
Marjolaine and Roxanne from France
Ransler from Canada
Alicja from Poland
Outdoor Activity: Beijing International Mountain Walking Festival
On September 15th some of our staff and program participants made their way to the countryside to participate in the 3rd annual Beijing International Mountain Walking Festival. The festival took place in the famous ancient village of Men Tou Gou, about two hours west of Beijing. The event consisted of a 20-30km walking event, good food, and camaraderie.
The festival was sponsored by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sport, Men Tou Gou District People’s Government, Beijing Sports Federation, and Beijing NGO Association for International Exchanges.
This was a great chance HHS Center staff and program participants to escape from the city and enjoy the beautiful greenery that rural China has to offer.
Relaxing, Chinese Style
As the sweltering hot days of summer turn into pleasant days in September, China’s population makes its way outdoors to take in the warm weather, get a breath of fresh air, and shoot the breeze with good friends, family, and neighbors. From late afternoon, young and old make their way out of their cramped apartment buildings to gather in courtyards, public squares, and parks.
Older men and women separate to congregate with their own group of friends; the men can be seen playing paddle ball, engaging in a game of cards, or seated around a low table on little stools to play Chinese chess. Their loud shouting may come across as anger but this is just the Chinese way of chatting and cheering during any animated game. As raising birds is a practical hobby and pet for city dwellers, another social custom is for men to bring their birdcages and sit together chatting about news, local happenings, and politics.
The women have their own way of enjoying September afternoons and evenings. Organizing dance routines to classic Chinese tunes, taking walks while pushing babies in strollers, and gathering to gossip about their day to day lives are all popular pastimes.
Both men and women enjoy playing badminton, hitting the shuttlecock back and forth over bushes or invisible nets. Outdoor ping pong tables also draw large crowds as heated matches take place. Some play without a care for rules or points while others seem to be preparing for Olympic competition.
Families take their beloved dogs for a stroll through their housing community, local playground, or park; letting them socialize with their other canine companions. These areas bustle with children and adults stretching and working out on outdoor exercise equipment. Some people walk backwards while clapping their hands, an exercise that s said to improve circulation. It is a rather startling realization for many foreigners who come to China to see just how active Chinese people are.
Though everyone is engrossed in different activities, taking the time to say hello to passersby and peek in on another group’s activity is always in order. After all, the most important part of enjoying a warm September afternoon or evening is to be social.
Buying books in Beijing
If you love to read but have run out of books, don’t worry, you can easily find some in Beijing. Some places are cheap whilst others are expensive, so here are a couple of suggestions where to buy books.
Wangfujing, The Foreign Language Store
Wangfujing has a couple of great English bookstores quite close to each other. Within five minutes walking distance from the food stands, directly opposite the GAP store you can find one of Beijing’s largest foreign bookstores popular amongst expats. The first floor has a great selection of novels, biographies, and history books. The staff speak English and are fairly helpful. Upstairs has an array of books in other languages too. And if you need to buy any teaching materials to help with teaching your host kid they have a great selection on offer.
However, despite the vast amount of books, the prices can be quite expensive depending on which you are searching for. Luckily other options are available…
Street book stalls
During your stay in Beijing, it is likely that you will see Chinese people selling books on the street. Sometimes in Xidan, sometimes Wudaokou. Very often they are close to Subway stations but they often move around. The books that they sell are rarely genuine, but occasionally they do have an interesting selection of classic and contemporary novels. Because they are fake, sometimes the quality isn’t so great. The ink may be faded, or a few letters may be missing down the side of the page, but most of the time they are good enough for what you pay.
Initially they may try and sell you books for 30 kuai, but you can most probably lower the price to 15 kuai.
Sanlitun, The Bookworm
A well-known place for foreigners and a popular place to go for coffee, lunch or to visit any of the frequent events that they have throughout the year. The Bookworm – a large green building on Nan Sanlitun Road can be located 5 minutes walking distance from Tuanjiehu station exit A . With many new books about China’s history, culture and fast developing economy it is frequented by foreigners.
In addition to the vast selection available for purchase you can also borrow from their lending library. A six month membership costs 200RMB, whilst a one year membership is 300RMB. The library includes classics and various books in foreign languages.
Perhaps the cheapest place to find books is by using the internet. Many Chinese websites such as www.dangdang.com have great selections. If you are having trouble deciphering the Chinese, you can always ask a Chinese friend to order them for you.