Cultural Weekends in Beijing: Art, Literature and Trucks full of cups

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Street Market, Statues in 798, my favourite yoghurt street drink, truck o’ cups

It’s funny the things that seem normal when you’ve been in Beijing for even just a short time. An open truck stacked full of random crockery for sale. Sure! (But how on earth did they get over the speed bumps?)  Weird yoghurt drinks on every street corner? Now one of my favourite Beijing snacks. Taxis without seat belts? At least you have something to celebrate when you do occasionally come across one. This weekend was full of the usual Beijing quirks, revisiting favourite places and some new experiences too.

798 Art District, Beijing
798 Art District, Beijing

Today, Justin and I headed over to 798 Art District. I just love that place and it’s not too far from where we live. 798 is a group of former East German owned factories, which are now turned into art galleries and fantsatic coffee shops. There’s even a vegetarian restaurant. Whilst I’m sure it’s past it’s indie art prime (I could be wrong as I obviously wasn’t in Beijing in the early days) it’s a lovely place to spend a morning or afternoon wandering around, looking at art and enjoying some coffee. We met up with a friend who was in Beijing over the weekend. We enjoyed lunch at a nice cafe and a walk around the galleries. In one gallery a women came over and tried to give us an explanation of the paintings, partly in English and partly in Mandarin. Was she the artist we asked? No, she just liked to explain art for her hobby she said. It was in 798 that we saw the open backed truck piled high with mugs and tea cups. We didn’t buy anything but they did have a very nice Stig from Top Gear money box (for all you British Top Gear fans out there!).

Shopping mall in Sanliturn near to Bookworm, another coffee, art gallery, tickets for bookworm literary festival
Shopping mall in Sanliturn near to Bookworm, another cup of coffee, art gallery, tickets for bookworm literary festival
I like cave cafe
I like cave cafe!

This weekend we also enjoyed our first literary festival! Bookworm (an awesome Cafe,  English book store and library plus general all round fun hangout) is currently running it’s annual literary festival. Several weeks ago, Justin and I poured over the schedule and picked out a few events to go to. Last night was our first event. It was an interesting conversation between Leta Hong Fincher and Didi Kirsten Tatlow about Hong Fincher’s upcoming book on Leftover Women. To give a simple explanation; leftover women are Chinese women who are not married by the time they get to their late twenties (which is traditionally seen as a bad thing). Whilst I didn’t agree with everything the author said (I won’t explain how here as it could get rather long winded!), I really enjoyed the discussion and audience member questions- particularly from the Chinese women in the audience. I’m looking forward to more events over the next few weeks. There is also another literary festival in Beijing at Capital M (an amazing restaurant near Tiananmen Square) which starts on the 16th. I have no idea why they run at the same time as there’s only so many literary talks a full time working person can attend! The main event I wanted to attend at Capital M is also in the day time when I’m working, so I’ll probably have to skip that one this year. Maybe I can alternate years?

Where’s your favourite Sunday afternoon place? Have you ever been to a literary festival?

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9 thoughts on “Cultural Weekends in Beijing: Art, Literature and Trucks full of cups

  1. 798 is a great place to hang out for a quiet Sunday afternoon, I agree 🙂
    But I think the coffee shops tend to be rather overpriced there compared to all the other ones I’ve been to (even Sanlitun!).
    I’m definitely going to the Capital M Literary Festival later this month, and I’m looking forward to Benjamin Law’s talk on Gaysia.

    1. You’ll have to let me know what the Capital M Literary Festival is like. I’d love to go to that to but there’s only so much time in a day! Life in Beijing is always busy..which is good 🙂

  2. There are always so many things to do in Beijing. I used to visit a lot of local galleries and food stores when I was there. This yogurt drinks are my favourite. I used to buy one and mixed it with strawberries and berries – heaven in my mouth!

  3. Love your blog! I’ve been living in Shanghai for 6 months and keep putting Beijing off but your posts are so great and make me want to come ASAP!

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