From August 2009 until June 2012 my family and I lived in Beijing. My husband and I taught at Beijing BISS International School, and my daughter completed her final three years of high school at the same school. We enjoyed out time in China as expat guests in the country. Let me share with you some my memories.
We lived out near the very large Beijing International airport and had to drive about 30minutes each way on the freeway to school, which was situated on the third ring road. Well, 30 minutes was what it should take to get there....but often the traffic was so bad it took 60 or even 90 minutes. We would car-pool with friends as license plate numbers were restricted on certain days - a government ruling in an attempt to do something about the pollution. One thing you can say about Beijing - there are a lot of people and a lot of cars! The rising middle class want cars....and many had more than one per family. The international car companies were setting up shop - Rolls Royce, Volkswagon etc. and new cars were very popular in the city. We drove an old 'Great Wall' SUV.
We lived in a 3-storey town house that had a little garden and was very comfortable. During the winter we were nice and warm with hot-water running through metal heaters on the wall. The hot water 'factory' was across the road and spewed a of pollution which we did not like much.
Our house was about a 40 minute drive from my favourite place to access the Great Wall. I loved going there in all seasons and climbing up to the wall and walking along. It is actually quite a strenuous walk along the wall as it is steep and up and down. The views are spectacular across the countryside and also into Mongolia!
What we loved about China was the Chinese people. The locals we worked with were always friendly and welcoming to us as guests in the country. They tried very hard to help us learn the language and to become familiar with Chinese customs and traditions. Some of the taxi drivers we had were not so friendly.....but these were the exceptions I think. Our full time house maid, Deng, was local to our community and spoke very little English so we communicated a lot by sign language and managed very well usually. We also loved the food and miss Guong Bai Chicken (with chili and nuts) and Garlic Broccoli...amongst many other things.
Things you do not say in China - 'When are you having your second child?' (although restrictions have relaxed a little in recent years, the one-child policy is still there), or 'Who are you going to vote for in the next election?' (duh! there is no election of course as China is a communist state - and doing very well in many respects with the political regime).
There is much more to say about life in China....but I hope this gives readers some insight.
Written by Julie Lindsay, September 2015
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