My first day out in Beijing, for real this time. Last time I was here was at least 5 years ago, and I never really got to go around and do all the things I wanted the way I wanted it.
This time it’s different, I got my good friend Roger with me, and we are just two weird Chinese people speaking English to each other while walking the streets of Beijing. It’s a nice feeling to be free.
First things first, I needed an order of the New Orleans styled chicken wings from KFC here in China. It remains to be the best BBQ wings, ever. I’ve yet to find a replacement for them in Canada, although Popeye’s crispy wings come pretty close. It’s a sweet flavor, almost ketchup like, but spiced and baked.
After that we decided to make a trip to Zhong Guan Cun (中关村), which is an area that’s known as a huge electronics market (yea I know, we’re nerds, get over yourself). My main purpose here was actually just to look around for some nice phone cases.
Things are a little different now, however, this place is now mostly tech startups and incubated. The hardware stores, stands and merchants has almost all left. The ones that stayed are almost exclusively Apple, Samsung and Huawei only. Most of them do repairs, screen replacements, and sell various accessories. You can also still find PC parts here as well, but it’s not the electronic market we had known it to be anymore.
This left us a little daunted, so we decided to go somewhere else.
Hey I took this photo for you Jason.
Another place I had heard a bit about was the 798 Art District (798艺术区). Some years back the government decided to rent out these huge industrial warehouses because they were sitting around doing nothing, so a bunch of art students ended up bidding for it and used it as a creative display space. They redecorated the place and cleaned it up, attracting more and more artists, and eventually this area became famous as a district full of art galleries and craftsman.
I have to say the overall quality of this place kinda disappointed me. The atmosphere is definitely hipster-ish, and the overall aesthetics are quite good. However, as far as small-time gallery goes, I found almost none. Most of them are big shot galleries that costs money to visit, while the works remain boring and uninspired. Unfortunately, this is the gentrification that happens to every popular destination, and I was a bit too late in visiting.
As Roger dropped me off, I found this guy with a tuxedo on a really run-down street, fabulous.
The day continues in the next post!