Beijing Day 5 – Peking University, the Chinese Economy and Dongcheng

Alison and I went to school a little earlier than usual to take some photos of Peking University’s beautiful campus. In the middle of campus sits a lake with paths around, leading to various sites.

Today we learned to think critically about the Chinese economy and the two main mechanisms that allowed it to grow so exponentially. From the exterior, it appears that the economy will continue growing, but upon deeper inspection, there are a lot of macro-economic problems that could slow it down, or worse, lead to a financial crisis.

Right after class, we rushed straight to the metro to take the subway to an older area of the city, Dongcheng. Following the main road off of the station, we walked towards Gui Jie, a.k.a. Ghost Street.

[People eating sunflower seeds while waiting for a table inside this restaurant on Ghost Street]

Apparently, “creepy” things were sold on this street once upon a time, but now it is lined with restaurants surrounded by hanging red lanterns. Ghost Street turns into Gulou street which is filled with a diverse range of restaurants and shops (with an abundance of guitar shops?). Off of Gulou, there is a hutong (a traditional street or alley) called NLGX (which is shorthand for Nanluoguxiang – good thing they shortened it because there is no way I could have pronounced that), which has been by far my favourite Beijing spot. The buildings lining this narrow street are very old but has been recently restored to house beautiful boutiques, restaurants, and bars. We had a grand time weaving in and out of shops, eating the delicious offerings from the vendors, and peering into all the bars and restaurants. This area is quite bohemian and artsy with a drama school situated off the street. Part of our group had dinner at a bar called 16mm, which was filled with posters and pictures of iconic American actors… and Tupac. The ceiling was a giant fish tank, and the music was eclectic with a mix of rap and Avril Lavigne. To take a break from walking, we had some tea (and wine) at a beautiful bar of Peking Hostel that had a very charming rooftop patio. Sitting up there on the roof, having some drinks, and looking up at the big dipper (and listening to top 40), we could have been in any metropolitan American city. It was a nice refuge from the busy streets down below.

[The bar at Peking Hostel]



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