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  • Elena Stoeva

Beijing China, Day 2 - Houtongs & Tsinghua

Updated: Apr 26, 2018

Got up and headed for coffee, Starbucks was still closed so went on looking for another one. I see a quite fancy coffee shop, people sitting outside, cool music, others carrying coffee in plastic bags. It’s McDonalds, and they hand your coffee cup in a plastic bag! On the inside it looks futuristic and high end. Coffee tasted great!

I just realize that the plastic bags replace the cardboard cup holders in US! Hm, which one is better?


My apartment is a part of an artist complex whit various artists. It is called “Inside Out” and it is a huge real estate development with coffee shops, restaurants, movie theatre all in walking distance. Also to the bus.


I took the bus and train for the first time today and really enjoyed how easy it was! Even bought a metro card to add value. And all with my little translator on the phone and gesturing.


Went to town to see the Houtongs. Snuck in a private yard, I couldn’t resist. It felt amazing to look at people’s homes from so close. You learn so much more than from the touristy streets. Decided to take some back roads and get a more realistic idea of how people live. Everyone hangs their laundry to dry outside and no one cares about others seeing your undies. More laundry on the main road. Vehicles come in all forms and shapes. The tiny ones for 1 or 2 person, along with the bikes are very popular. Tons of them. Vehicles always have the right of way. I got stuck in the middle of the road for a few minutes thinking someone will let me finish crossing on a green ‘walk’. No such thing. Had to wait and wait.


Dared to buy some street food and peed in a hole. All public bathrooms are holes in the ground. I’d rather hover over a hole than a over a toilet seat…


From town I took the metro to one of their biggest universities, Tsinghua, to buy come art supplies. Have never seen such a big campus, miles and miles long. I started walking, a couple of miles to go to the campus art store, but Vanessa met me on a bike and found one for me for the second mile. Took a taxi from the art store for the way back home. Was awesome after all that walking,

I wish I had some company while traveling around. My hosts said they will look for a volunteer to join me for a day. I just need to know some tips on what to eat/drink/shop.


Everything is so far and so big. Beijing is huge. Tomorrow, I plan visit the art district - 798, which is 2hrs 40 mins away by public transport and 40 mins away by taxi. I think I will do the taxi.


The Houtongs - my most favorite so far. Goal is to get inside...


The vehicles


Subway Map



Tsinghua University



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Elena runs a small paint party business, offering Private Paint Parties for kids and adults. For more info visit Paint with ME Boston

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