The Chinese Internet and the US Internet are like parallel universes – for every successful dot com in China or the US, there is usually a similar dot com (often separately owned and managed) based in the other country.
Sometimes these dot coms are even clones (exact look-a-likes) of each other. For example check out this side by side comparison of twitter.com and komoo.cn.
I’ve compiled a list of similar China and US dot coms in the table below. Let me know if you know of other major dot coms and I’ll add it to the list!
|Category||US-based .com||China-based .com|
|Street View||Google Street View||City8.com|
|Local Business Reviews||Yelp.com||Localnoodles.com|
Welcome to Beijing, host city of the 2008 Summer Olympics and capital of the most populous country in the world. For most people who are visiting Beijing for the first time – I’m certain that when the visit is over, your image of China will be very different from the one that you arrived with!
Beijing has plenty to offer to visitors – ancient cultural landscapes, ultra modern skyscrapers, hopping nightlife, amazing Chinese cuisine, opportunities to interact with people who grew up and live in a very different world from you, etc. Having lived here for a while now, what do I think are the “must see” or “must do” things in Beijing?
No Beijing visit would be complete if you don’t see the great wall! The great wall at Badaling is most popular and touristy – I’ve never been to Badaling, however from what I’ve heard you’re better off avoiding it because of the crowds and hawkers you will encounter there. Besides, the great wall at Badaling is so heavily restored… some people no longer consider it the “real” great wall.
Simatai is much more authentic, less crowded and regarded by most as superior to the circus that is Badaling.
Forbidden City (故宫) and Tiananmen Square (天安门广场)
The Forbidden City was the Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties – it’s hard not to be awed while walking around the huge and ancient complex. Don’t forget your camera! There’re plenty of vantage points from which to take cool pictures.
Tiananmen Square is south of the Forbidden City. It’s a big square (duh) – personally I did not find it super interesting but I guess it’s cool to walk around one of the most politically-charged squares in the world : ) There is extensive police presence (there may be many more plainclothes officers too) so think twice before you engage in any silly pranks. I have heard that the flag raising and lowering drills at sunrise and sunset are pretty cool to watch.
Overdosed on historical/cultural plces and crave some direct interaction with local Chinese? It’s hard to think of a better place than the English Corner at Renmin University. Every Friday evening from around 7pm onwards, the Chinese gather here to practice speaking English with each other. Shy? No worries – any person that speaks good native English (or looks like he/she can speak good English) is very popular here.
It will be a memorable night at Afunti – over a Xinjiang-style dinner of juicy kebabs and beer, you will be treated to a visual feast of kung-fu moves, belly dancing and much more. If you’re lucky you may become a part of the performance.. and even walk away with a prize!
Afunti is usually packed – definitely call in advance to make a reservation: 6527-2288. The address in Chinese is 东城区朝阳门内大街后拐棒胡同甲2号 (朝阳门北小街的西侧). If the taxi driver does not recognize this address, call the restaurant and have the restaurant staff give the driver directions.
FYI it is a few hundred meters east of the “Dongsi” (东四) station on Beijing Subway Line 5. However I do not recommend walking from the subway as it’s not a short walk and the restaurant is easy to miss as it’s not well signed / hidden in a small alley.
Nanluoguxiang (literally translates to “South Drum Alley”) is a quaint hutong with interesting small restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. A big plus is that it’s not super commercialized, touristy and loud (yet. I hope never ever) like Lotus Lane (荷花市场), the Worker’s Stadium area (工体西门) and Sanlitun (三里屯) for example. Nanluoguxiang is a great place to chill with friends in the evening/night. Tell the taxi driver to drop you off at the south end of this alley/street – 南锣鼓巷的南侧 (地安门东大街和南锣鼓巷的交叉).
Walk north through Nanluoguxiang for about 1 kilometer (about 0.6 miles) until you hit a major road/intersection, Guloudongdajie (鼓楼东大街). At the intersection turn left (head east) and walk for a few hundred meters until you see the drum tower – it will come up on your right, you can’t miss it. Feel free to explore the area around the drum tower… I think you can even go inside for a fee.
South of the drum tower is a big (3-way?) intersection. Walk south along the major road that heads south – Dianmenwaidajie (地安门外大街). Cross over to the west side of this road as soon as possible. As you walk south, look out on your right for Yandaixiejie (烟袋斜街), a little alley with restaurants, bars and shops. You should see a gate/arch with the 烟袋斜街 inscription at the entrance of this alley. There will probably be lots of other tourists walking in and out of this alley so it should be quite obvious when you get there.
Walk down this alley and you will eventually see a big lake, Houhai (后海). From here it should not be hard to find restaurants or bars to go to, or stuff to do – for example you can rent boats on the lake, or do a hutong tour on a rickshaw, etc.
This is a cluster of art galleries situated in an old abandoned military industrial-factory zone that was code named 798. Don’t forget your camera – the juxtaposition of art and abandoned factories is.. hmm, unique?
Other things to do