Hello all my compassionate friends! I’m here in Beijing, week 3 of 52. I’ll be spending the next year here working with really adorable kids and exploring the culture and history. I thought today I would share some of my thoughts on Beijing, the capital of China, including my impression of how compassionate of a country it is – or isn’t… Here goes!
- It reminds me of any big city I would come across, like NYC or LA, or my hometown (Dallas)
- People here have no sense of body space (esp on the subway, bus, elevators, or really anywhere!)
- There are sooo many restaurants and stores. There is a lot of shopping to be done! And most things are very cheap to purchase.
- There is a very big foreign community here. I’ve seen people from America, Canada, Europe, Africa, and other places.
- The Chinese seem to admire Americans and their lifestyle/culture and sometimes they like to come up and take pictures of me and my friends.
- The outskirts of Beijing are surrounded by some beautiful scenery, esp the mountains.
- As a young, foreign woman I have to watch out for the Chinese men. The older men can be pretty creepy sometimes :-/
- Chinese people stare at me wherever I go. They aren’t used to seeing foreigners, especially really pale ones like me haha.
- Fruits & veggies are dirt cheap here!
- It’s actually pretty hard to be vegan here. The Chinese have westernized their diet so much, they are obsessed with meat and dairy and put it in everything. Even if you say no meat, that doesn’t include chicken and to them it means just no big portions of meat.
- People openly spit on the sidewalks and in the streets. It’s just the custom here, but I don’t think I will ever get used to it.
- There is a lot of poverty here, especially among the senior citizens, who will dig through the trash to find bottles and other recyclables that they can trade in for money.
- The toilets! Public restrooms contain “earth toilets,” which are basically holes in the ground and many times there are no stalls or doors. And no toilet paper, people are responsible for carrying tissues with them at all times. More “western closets” (aka normal toilets as I know them in America) are popping up around the city.
- Coffee shops are big here, but they don’t have milk alternatives like soy milk or almond milk. People here looove cow milk.
- Dogs are popular here as pets, but 99% of them are toy breeds that definitely came from a breeder or puppy mill or some other sketchy place. Just the other night I saw an old man selling teeny puppies on the street in a touristy area. So sad and horrible.
- Animal rights is not a well known thing here. China is still kind of in the dark about it. Although I read an article about a group here in Beijing that rescues dogs from the underground meat trade. That’s pretty awesome!
- A good vegan meal when I ate out was the hot pot. A big pot of boiling water with seasonings where you can put in all sorts of vegetables and noodles and tofu. It cooks right there at the table and you eat it with a savory peanut sauce. Very filling and good.
- The tap water is not drinkable here. Water coolers and water bottles are the only option other than boiling water.
- Everyone smokes here and it’s not banned indoors, so people smoke in restaurants, bars, offices, etc. It’s pretty yucky.
- The women here vie for porcelain skin. Many of the beauty products here contain lightening agents.
- I’d say the sky is cloudy (which is really just pollution) about 50% of the time. The other half of the time it’s sunny and nice.
Beijing is a very interesting place. It’s a huge city and there’s so much to see and do. I’ve met some really great people already and I’m excited to spend the next year immersing myself in a completely different culture. I also hope that I can teach others here about my culture and my beliefs, especially my compassion towards animals and eating a plant based diet.