• Naomi Head

8 things people in Beijing ignore that no one else would

Originally published Augist 2 2019 by Time Out Beijing


If you already know these are a thing, you're a true Beijinger

Photo: Instagram/@project_cn


All over the world people ignore bizarre and beautiful things to cope with big city living, but we think Beijingers do it best. From the Beijing bikini (Rest in Peace) to the Houhai swimmers, there are so many things we are blind to that knock tourists off their share bikes.

1. The Beijing bikini

Photo: @small_horse_in_big_china/Instagram


From the first signs of summer in May to the slow embers of October you can guarantee there’s a group of lao Beijingers with their tops rolled up above their belly buttons, whether they’re smoking in their outdoor living rooms or sucking down their morning bowl of doujiang, this fashion never goes out of style. Apparently, Shandong Province’s government thinks this peculiar summer cooling method reflects rather badly on them. So much so that they are dishing out fines to anyone who sports this fashion in Jinan. We think they should actually put it on tourist brochures…


2. Outdoor living rooms

Photo: @beijingsofaproject/Instagram


This is a hutong and lao Beijing specialty, so much so that it has inspired Instagram account @beijingsofaproject. Unsuspecting during winter time, these dusty old sofas and dining room sets come into their own during the sweltering summer. From little old ladies holding court to youngsters taking a nap, the outdoor living room is just another part of this cityscape.


3. Car horns… scooter horns… e-bike horns… share bike bells…

Photo: @braunosaurus/Instagram


Part of the musical charm of Beijing is the endless honking and ringing of horns and bells in rush hour and even the dead of night.


4. ‘City juice’

Photo: @delamanda/Unsplash.com


Wherever you go in our fair city, there’s always something lurking under loose paving, in the gutters or dripping from the buildings... We like to call it ‘city juice’, because actually knowing what’s in it would send more than just shivers down our spines.

5. Outdoor swimmers

Photo: @martinaalbertazzi/Instagram


On those days you can’t resist a trip out to any lake or canal within the city, you’re more than likely going to encounter an old dude in a Speedo or a brave laowai who is trying really hard to blend in with the locals. If you breeze past it without wanting to fish anyone out, well, you’ve made it. You’re just like the rest of us jaded city dwellers.


6. Air con refugees

Photo: @alexfromindia/Unsplash.com


Most people we know run their air conditioning when the last frost thaws until the first hint of the Siberian winds, but spare a thought for those without air con. At the height of summer, you can spot them because they’re practically living in Wagas, sitting back and forth in Line 6’s ‘strong air conditioning’ section or lounging on any flat surface at Ikea.

7. Endless coffee shops

Photo: Café Zarah


For a country that likes to boast about its national drink, the humble cup of tea, China has a seemingly infinite number of coffee shops. Don’t get us wrong, we love a trip to Big Small or Bear Brew just as much as the next guy, but you definitely have to walk past hundreds of pretenders before you find the good stuff.


8. Photoshoots

Photo: @danoyndeng/Instagram


From weddings to the wannabe wanghong, and graduation to family vacations there’s always a photoshoot going on somewhere in Beijing. It wasn’t just the loss of Stuff’d that caused us to abandon Wudaoying...

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