China 1999

Written by Al Wong (Write to me)

This is my experience in Beijing, China in the Summer of 1999. If you came to this webpage first, it's better if you start from the beginning of the story.

Monday, June 28th
First Day in Beijing

[Street in Beijing] First impressions. There are a lot more cars than I remember ten years ago. Before, most people rode bicycles. You could see literally thousands riding their bikes in the streets. Now it's just like any other big city filled with cars. Also, there are American cars like Dodge and Chrysler. Not just German status cars like Mercedes and Shang Hai made cars. I include a picture of one of the main streets near the dorms.

However, I have experienced the same kamekazi driving as before with very liberal honking. We had at least three close calls while driving to the language academy. Some things never change.

I include two pictures of my dorm room. Outside of one VHS video that Cathy Wei has, there is no other pictorial information about the rooms. Certainly this information did not exist on the Net until now.

[My Dorm Bedroom] [My Dorm Bathroom]

Checking into the language school, the room accomodations are an equivalent to an old hotel in the Los Angeles area. I'd say it's like an old Best Western motel room in the one star category. I have seen worse and I have seen better. I'll give below a very specific pro and con descriptions of my room (#309) and let you decide if the room is fit for human habitation:

The Cons:

  • Dim lighting. The ceiling lighting of the room is like walking into a cave. Very dim. I felt I went blind when I walked into the room for the first time. There are two desk lamps but they don't help much in brightening the whole room. I am thinking of buying a cheap floor lamp here to correct this.
  • The air conditioner is on a timer. It seems the air conditioner has a built in timer but later I learned how get around that.
  • Electrical outlets not conveniently located near the study desk. The outlets appear to be located near the corners of the room. However the desks are located in the middle of the walls. This forces you to string wiring across the beds, tables, chairs, etc. to get to an outlet. In my room there was one outlet per wall plate. In the USA, usually there are two outlets per wall plate. Since I brought a small answering machine as well as a laptop computer, this forced me to find two separate wall outlets and somehow string them to a desk.
  • Small bathroom. The bathroom is little bigger than a walk-in closet and has a low ceiling.
  • Flourescent Lights in the Bathroom. They take forever to go on and flicker like crazy. Not good for the eyes, especially if you have to take a leak in the middle of the night.
  • No toilet paper. Cathy suggested we bring our own.
  • There are "holes" below the bathtub. There were two "holes" just below my bathtub. One hole appears to be for drainage in the bathroom. The other hole goes into and underneath the bathtub. It is a square hole about 6 inches on a side and cut very neat. It appears construction just stopped here for some reason.
  • Closet is kind of dingy. The closet appears to be somewhat dusty. Bring paper to line the closet cupboards.
  • Front door handle is bent or broken The inner door handle is bent 45 degrees. It appears to work, sort of. Fortunately, the door lock is separate from the door handle.
  • I just discovered a mosquito in my room. Two mosquitoes were dispatched this night.
The Pros:
  • The air conditioner works. In hot and humid weather, this counts for something.
  • The bathroom has a flushing toilet although it flushes slowly. At least the toilet is not a hole in the ground.
  • The shower works great and has hot water. I hate wimpy shower sprays.
  • There is a working television. Most channels are pretty clear.
  • There was fresh fruit in the room. Watermelon, bananas and longan.
  • There was hot water in the room in two thermos There is also cold water available that is potable. You are not supposed to drink the tap water.
  • The people here are friendly. I have found the people working in the building to be very friendly and helpful in correcting my Chinese language skills.
The Weird, Awkward Stuff:
  • Bright orange towels! I suppose this will help prevent theft. The bright orange color makes an interesting contrast with the rest of the bathroom's decor.
  • Drainage Loop-the-loop. As I was sitting on the toilet doing my thing, I noticed the drainage pipe of the bathroom sink does a complete 360 loop. Most drains use a "goose neck" arrangement to stop the smell from coming up the drain.
  • Air conditioner is behind the window drapes. The air conditioner is imbedded in the window to the outside. However there are ceiling to floor drapes covering this window. To use the air conditioner, you must open one side of the drapes. This arrangement is awkward as you had to keep the drapes open to use the air conditioner.
  • Awkward toilet handle. The toilet handle must be pushed down to flush but the handle, rather than facing outward, is faced inward behind the toilet seat. This makes flushing awkward as you must use two hands, one hand to hold the toilet seat and one hand to push the handle down.

The Next Day China 1999 My Writings Al's Wild Web Page

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Last updated : November 8, 1999
Copyright 1999 Al Wong, Los Angeles, California, USA
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