Beijing: Apartment Life, WuMei & Shunyi Shenanigans!

Transferring to Beijing from Wuhan was my number one priority but I had one district that I really didn't want to be placed in! Closest to Beijing's current international airport, Shunyi District somehow became my new home in China after the noise of Guanggu, Wuhan. I will be completely honest I wasn't pleased at first but life so far in suburban Beijing couldn't be better!

Arriving into Beijing was enough of a culture shock, getting over the jet-lag I made my way from Chaoyang Park to China International Exhibition Center Subway Station in Shunyi District. I was on the lookout for somewhere to live with my Chinese principal and a property agent. Captured above is my current housing community, it is peaceful and situated within easy reach to two subway stations that connect with inner-city underground lines. My first impressions of Shunyi were good, even people in the McDonald's at Euro Plaza spoke English and those international Chinese people were definitely well heeled because many languages could be heard during those first moments. I couldn't begin to compared Shunyi with Guanggu because the differences are so stark, in my new area it's common not to see any crowds or loud speaker announcements during the weekends. The 'money compound' currently suits me fine, keeping the noise away in the city. Shunyi District, I need to learn to love you, I know that much. Alright?

Thankfully I hadn't needed to share any apartments since I did during my Hallmark Aviation placement days in Newark, New Jersey! That wasn't changing in Shunyi, no! With Chinese prices on a different scale completely I won't be considering anyone else's space for a long-time! My one bedroom Central Park apartment boasts a large living and dining area, bathroom with continental toilet, a fair sized kitchen and a double bedroom all to myself. Rents are higher in Beijing compared to Wuhan but Chaoyang rents are three times higher than my Shunyi price. Shangdu might have been above 24 hour convenience stores and other god-sends but I have what I need a couple of steps away from my door, with a closing time for these shops its an excuse to save money. On the whole my new abode works just fine for me, feeling like I have graduated, the standard of my current apartment trumps the two that I lived in Wuhan! It is all about progression! With this suburban nature, I have a new life to get used to! Come on, Shunyi!

Having a Carrefour downstairs in Guanggu had me set in my ways of convenience, it gave me the perfect excuse to stock up on wine after work on a Friday evening. Fast forward to life in Shunyi life in Beijing, it's a lot different here. Carrefour can be accessed via a taxi from my new place but closer to home I have found a cracker, a supermarket called 'WuMei'. It is practically Chinese in every sense, with a very very local client base. Snatching four full bags of shopping each week for around 20 pounds allows me to save, with a full kitchen at home I can cook everyday if I want to! WuMei sure keeps it real, located past a rather exclusive shopping complex the luxurious nature stops dead at the door because the clientele aren't the usual compared to Shunyi's elite. Those villa residents mostly shop at Jenny Lou's or BHG import supermarkets. Let me just break it down, 'WuMei' keeps me on my toes, I have had some situations, for real! I am getting used to a whole new system, I am getting to grips with the APP payment systems once again. Oh, 顺义区!

Why am I living in Shunyi District? My new campus happens to be in the same district, it wasn't my first choice but the school took the decision to place me here. Going back to the United Kingdom for three months wasn't the plan but with certain miscommunications dealt with I was placed in my Beijing campus away from the noise and madness of Chaoyang District. I wasn't expecting to be assigned a Shunyi location but within time I was able to accept the changes and my new location for better rather than worse. Conveniently located from my community I can walk to my new kindergarten campus within twenty minutes, it beats getting the bus like I did in Wuhan twice everyday and it leaves me with more of an evening to chill out from the fast paced nature of kindergarten life. Buses, never again after Guanggu's offerings! WuMei's madness and normality gives me life in a strange way but being closer to school makes life much easier compared to that Guanggu life. 顺义区 might be quiet but it is my hideout when I need to sleep.  

During my period of pre-arrival research, I was relieved to see that my campus was near to Beijing Subway's Line 15. Connecting this outer city community with lines 14, 5, 8 and 13 that can all take me closer to the centre of Beijing. Because I needed to party on the weekends! Yes! Google Maps and Baidu Maps had me recognising the area around China International Exhibition Center Subway Station with the surrounding golf courses and leafy exclusiveness! I was well acquainted to that public transportation connection, it was challenging but I tried. I can get into the city within about ninety minutes, that might seem far but it works for me because the noise of the city can be left right where it needs to be, Shunyi for the moment gives me peace but I'm never isolated because Line 15's Guo Zhan and Hua Li Kan Subway Stations keep me connected. A DiDi taxi from the centre of Beijing's party district 'San Li Tun' was only 70 Kuai the last time I went out, that's about 8 quid! 朝阳区, who? I'm not bitter about my location, BB! 

Did I mention that I only live 15 minutes from Beijing Capital International Airport? That is the compromise, it really is! Yes, Shunyi District will hold the key to a speedy departure to the airport and then home after I touchdown back in Beijing. I have met certain Chaoyang teachers that throw shade on my airport side location, I have no issue getting a taxi to the airport for less 2 quid from door to door rather than traipsing across the city to catch a flight. I can see the control tower from the north exit of my community and its a plane spotters dream because my side of Shunyi District is on the final approach for each and every aircraft that touches down at Peking International Airport. Of course, I see those departing flight soar higher across Shunyi! Back to the city, I've only been into town a couple of times since arriving because work has been manic but with a possible extended contract on the horizon I'm in no rush. So, Shunyi District is home for now, a different side to Beijing that I wasn't expecting but it's working out fine! 加油啦!

顺义区, 我的新家! 

Joseph Harrison 


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