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.
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!).
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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