Archive for the ‘Living in Beijing’ Category

The Beijing Spirit

As China progressed exponentially in the past decade, the Chinese culture has been slowly being encroached by other cultures.  A lot of the traditional customs and beliefs has been dwindling to stories and the youth are becoming more and more like their Western counterparts.  To encourage the return of the old beliefs, the Beijing government launched “The Beijing Spirit”.

bjspiritThe Beijing Spirit is composed of four traits – Patriotism, Innovation, Inclusiveness and Virtue.  Patriotism (爱国) is to encourage the people to love their country.  I believe this trait has been ingrained with the older people very deeply while the youth have at times been patriotic.  Loving your country is good but not to the extent that you mindlessly follow whatever the government says without having your own voice.  I guess this is one good trait to have and encourage to the youth of this country.

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Beijing’s Residential Electricity Tiered Pricing Scheme

The National Development Reform Council (NDRC)  announced last June 14 that the residential electricity tiered pricing scheme will take effect on 1 July 2012.  This scheme has three tiers depending on your household’s monthly electricity usage.

image Implementation rules:

  1. Each month you can initially purchase a maximum of 240 kw (RMB 117.60) to your card which you will load on your meter.
  2. In the event that you used up the 240 kw in one month and would like to purchase more, you can purchase an additional 1 to 159 kw for RMB 0.54 per kw.
  3. Should you still need more than 400kw for that month, you may purchase more kw for RMB 0.79 per kw.
  4. In the event that you weren’t able to use up 240kw in one month, the remaining kw will be carried over to the next month.  If you’ve used up your excess kw, you can proceed to the bank to load up a maximum of 240kw for that month.

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Beijing China Mobile Monthly Promotions

image China Mobile is one of the biggest telecommunications company in China offering mobile phone services.  They offer both post-paid and pre-paid plans to their subscribers.

For pre-paid plans, you can choose either shenzhouxing or mzone.  Mzone caters more to the teenagers and young adults who tend to send more text messages and download music than call.  Shenzhouxing caters to professionals who do not want to be charged a monthly bill for the use of the phone services.

For post-paid plan, China Mobile offers Gotone.  Signing up is easy as you only need to bring your passport, SIM card fee and at least RMB 500 to any China Mobile service hall all over the city.  For a prepaid amount of RMB 500, you are restricted to domestic roaming only.  For a prepaid amount of RMB 1,000, you will be able to enjoy international roaming.  If you’re not in a hurry to use international roaming, opt for the prepaid amount of RMB 500 and return to the service hall after 3 months to have your international roaming activated.

Here are some of this month’s promotions which will help you save some money from your monthly mobile phone expense:

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Price Increases Everywhere

image Why do prices always go up?  Why don’t they ever come down?  Why can’t salaries increase at par with the country’s inflation rate?  My weekly trip to the supermarket is turning into nightmare with some of the products going up weekly.  Sorry.. I’m just ranting with prices that are increasing everywhere. 

Here are some examples of price increases of items I usually use or purchase:

  • Cup of rice @ 7-11:  from RMB 1.8 to RMB 2.0
  • Yakult pack of 5:  from RMB 10.5 to RMB 11.0
  • Rice toppings @ 7-11:  from RMB 14 to RMB 15.5
  • Boiled egg @ bldg convenience store: RMB 1.2 to RMB 1.3
  • Starbucks tall vanilla latte:  RMB 28 to RMB 30
  • Ajisen Ramen Tissue Paper:  Free to RMB 1.0
  • Minute Maid Orange Juice:  RMB 3.2 to RMB 3.5
  • Coldstone small cup:  RMB 27 to RMB 30
  • Honey Pork Rice @ QQ:  RMB 28 to RMB 32

Too many items are increasing or the food portions are getting smaller.  I’m just glad that the local government is still subsidizing the public transportation that for the past 6 years I’ve been in Beijing, no price increase whatsoever on public bus and subway.


Fishing for Information or Harassment?

image As I was about to leave work on March 14, I suddenly received a call from the reservations desk of Intercontinental Foshan.  According to the lady who can only speak Chinese, I missed one page on the fax I’ve sent to them.  I told her that I didn’t send any fax to their hotel.  I asked who was it for and she told me something in Chinese that I can barely understand.  I asked how did she get my information and she said that it was on the fax sheet.  When I got frustrated because of the communications barrier, she apologized for bothering me and hanged up.

After the call, I was a little bit freaked out.  I sought my friend’s help to call the hotel again.  They told her that the fax was missing one page.  I asked her to get the fax number but they refused to give it and informed her that she’ll re-send it to the number.  After the call, my friend told me that there was no booking made but my information was with them.  We waited for the fax but none came through.  My friend advised me to call their central number for assistance and my credit card to flag any transaction from any hotels.

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Starbucks @ 40 and Women’s Day

imageTo all my female readers, Happy International Women’s Day!  If you’re working in China, you get half-day off.  Go out and shop as there are lots of sales for women shoppers.

Not only is it women’s day today but also Starbucks’ 40th birthday.  Starbucks @ 40 meant a different logo for the company.  They removed the words “Starbucks Coffee” from the logo and featured prominently the Siren. 

Starbucks Coffee Blend

imageTo celebrate it’s 40 years in the business, Starbucks released their Tribute coffee.  The coffee is a blend of four Starbucks’ highest quality coffee beans – Aged Sumatra, Papua New Guinea, Sun dried Ethiopia and Colombia. 

It has a bold flavor with spicy and full bodied, with berry and dark cherry taste.  In Beijing, they offered free taste of this coffee from 10am to 2pm today.  I missed it but would probably ask for a free taste in the future. 

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Skiing at Nanshan

After spending almost five years in Beijing, I have never envisioned myself learning how to ski. I remembered winning some ski tickets 2 years back but was busy when the day arrived. Last Sunday, I was already planning to go to church and attend our team activity in the afternoon but was encouraged to attend by friends from the Philippines who were in town to celebrate RS’ birthday party at Nanshan.


Getting There

The Nanshan Ski Village is located near Miyun County, 62 km from Wanghe Bridge, north of Beijing. They have 21 trails for skiing and snowboarding. You have three options of getting there by car:

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Five New Subway Lines

With traffic becoming unbearable in Beijing, the opening of five new subway lines by 28 Dec 2010 is a welcome relief.  Testing was already completed months before and the finishing touches of the stations are almost complete. These lines will cater to Beijingers living in the outskirts of Beijing. Ticket costs remain unchanged at a flat rate of RMB 2 with unlimited transfers.

At present,  Beijing has 7 main subway lines (line 1, line 2, line 4, line 5, line 8, line 10, line 13) and 2 branch lines (Batong line and Airport Express line).  I could honestly say, that I haven’t explored each subway stop.  It would be a good thing to document in the future.  Who wants to go with me?

The five new subway lines are as follows:

1.  Daxing Line

imageDaxing line will cater to residents and establishments in Daxing district (south of Beijing). It is connected through the southern terminal of Line 4 and is 21.8 km long.  The eleven stations from north to south are as follows:

  • Xingong (新宫)
  • Xihongmen (西红门站)
  • Gaomidian North (高米店北)
  • Gaomidian South (高米店南)
  • Zaoyuan (枣园)
  • Qingyuan Lu (清源路)
  • Huangcun Xidajie (黄村西大街)
  • Huangcun Railway Station (黄村火车站)
  • Yihezhuang (义和庄)
  • Biomedical Base (生物医药基地)
  • Tiangongyuan (天宫院)

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Transport 101: Yi Ka Tong (一卡通)

image It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted tips in living in Beijing.  One of the most important thing in living in China is navigating the city without looking dumb.  If you’ve been to Hong Kong, you’d probably notice their infamous Octopus card. 

In Beijing, the Octopus card counterpart is called the Yi Ka Tong.  This card can be bought at the nearest subway station.  Not all ticket booth in the station have this card.  They might direct you to a different ticket booth to purchase this.

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Apartment Hunting for Dummies

Which type of people usually look for an apartment? There’s the newbie who just arrived in Beijing for their newest adventure, the oldie who’s lease just expired, the businessman who’s sick and tired of staying in an apartment. In any case, finding an apartment in China needs your haggling and language skills. Also, a Chinese friend would be the best to do the translation for you.

Here are some tips that may help you in your apartment hunting:

  • If the ad says “near the subway”, never believe it till you’ve seen it.
  • Most apartments are now equipped with western toilets.
  • If you don’t like cleaning your apartment, go for service apartments such as Oakwood, Palm Springs, HQ Ritz, etc. However, be prepared to pay for a higher than usual price.
  • Decide which district do you want to live and your budget.
  • Best place to live in would be walking distance to the subway or bus stops. The price on these places are usually higher.     Read the rest of this entry »