Ace and I have made the decision to finally move out of the far west side. Right now, I have a 8 minute walk to work, and she has an hour-long, public transit nightmare. I completely understand how overwhelming that can be when you are new to a big city, and doubled when you can't speak the language. We've decided to move to the east side, where she will have a 10-15 minute bike ride to work, and i can do my commute in about 40 minutes.
In the back of my mind, i've always wanted to move closer to friends and conveniences. Out here, there are good restaurants, but no mandarin language schools, convenient gyms, or friends! Two of those on the list are new years resolutions, and i intend to get them going shortly. Plus, we now have to pay rent to live in this place since ace moved out. There's no reason to stay somewhere we aren't happy if it's not free anymore.
Bad - Public Sanitation
You read a lot about the pollution in Beijing. It's bad, but i can't imagine it's much worse than LA, NY, London, or Tokyo. Although, there are few, if any, government regulations regarding vehicle emissions here. Which can't help. But air pollution is hard to notice when you're on the ground. What gets me is the general disregard for their own city that the locals here have. I see Chinese discard their wrappers and plastic bags onto the street, when there are two different trash receptacles in sight. I see (and hear!) men and women hacking up foul, throat-turds and spitting them onto the sidewalk. Dog owners let their pets crap anywhere. And sewers are the worst. You can look down into a public sewer and see the stagnant, putrid filth festering below. And as you walk by, you train yourself to hold your breath at the first hint of stench, lest you get caught open mouthed or yawning.
In Beijing, you always take your shoes off when entering someones home. Not because it's a Chinese tradition of courtesy, dating back 1000's of years, but because you DO NOT want to track Beijing into your home.
I asked a Chinese friend why locals just throw garbage on the ground. He said, "Well, if people stopped doing that, a hundred thousand people would be unemployed".
Neutral - Strawberries
Beijing has an abundance of fresh and inexpensive fruit, mostly imported from tropical Asian locales. In addition to the regulars, you can find fresh pineapple, mango, papaya, dragon fruit, kiwi, and strawberries. Unfortunately, blueberries haven't been discovered in this region, and can only be found in a few foreign groceries. And even then there's usually only one or two cartons. But recently, the strawberries have been showing up everywhere, and really cheap. My coworkers come into work with bags of them, and the vendors stroll down the streets with carts overflowing. Naturally, i got swept up in the strawberry hype and got myself a half kilo for a dollar fifty. I did not realize i was buying mutant strawberries. I tossed a normal one on the plate for reference.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO PROVE, STRAWBERRY, BUT I AM NOT IMPRESSED! Seriously, i like you just the way you are, you don't have to go working out and getting all buff to make me enjoy you. And lay off the steroids, you know that stuff can make your stem shrink. (...my nod to FU, Penguin.)