29 December 2017

Shunyi District: Strictly Suburban Beijing...

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 interational 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 any better!

Arriving into Beijing was enough of a shock, getting over the jet-lag I made my way from Chaoyang Park to China International Exhibition Center Subway Station in Shunyi to look for somewhere to live with my Chinese principal and a property agency. Captured to the left is my current community, its quiet 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' suits me fine, keeping the noise away in the city. 

I haven't shared an apartment/flat since my Hallmark Aviation placement days in Newark, New Jersey, 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 its proof my accommodation reflects that movement as well my working status. The subsidised central heating is a god-send because the weather drops below minus two degrees most nights! B, show me Shunyi!

Having a Carrefour downstairs in Guanggu was amazing, it gave me the perfect excuse to stock up on wine after work on a Friday evening, fast forward to Shunyi life in Beijing its a lot different here. Carrefour can be accessed quite easy from my new place but I found a cracker, a supermarket called 'WuMei', which is practically Chinese in every sense. Snatching four full bags of shopping each week for around 20 pounds allows me to save! WuMei 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. I plough my shopping trolley to and from the necessary aisles because those shoppers get me mad! One Friday night had me so crazy, the APP payment machine broke at the check out, it was chaos! Get it together!

Introducing a professional tone, the whole reason I am now in Shunyi District is for my teaching job with a reputable international kindergarten company. Going back to the United Kingdom for three months wasn't the plan but with certain miscommunciations 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. Yes, Shunyi will do!

During my pre-Shunyi arrival research I was relieved to see that my campus was near to Beijing Subway's Line 15 that connects this outer city community with lines 14, 5, 8 and 13 that can all take me closer to the centre of Beijing. 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 aquainted to that public transportation connection. 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! Chaoyang, who? I'm not bitter!

Did I mention that I only live 15 minutes from Beijing Capital International Airport? 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 touchs 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!

Countryside? No, It's Strictly Suburban! 

Joseph Harrison 

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