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It’s that time of year again…

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…when exposing your stomach and back is back in fashion.
A typical sight around Beijing when it gets a little hot: the men of Beijing (the young, the old, the slim, the not-so-slim..) will hitch their t-shirts up, tuck them under (or over) the top half of their t-shirts, leaving their stomachs and backs open for public viewing.
Guys, does that really even cool you down?
Either way, it’s not really the most pleasant of sights.

It is a sign however, that Summer is here. The wind that blows over you when you step outside is warm, and the sun – hot. The temperature has been within 25°C and 30°C over the past few days, and it’s going to get hotter still.

Last night I went to have dinner at Al-Ameen, a Lebanese restaurant, and realised after that I should have written some reviews throughout the year of restaurants I’ve eaten at! Some of the information online is outdated, and I could genuinely have provided some information on eating out (the Halaal way) in Beijing, but alas, it’s a little late for that now… Hummus and Falafel though, yum!

Not my picture, but close enough 🙂

The highlight of today was dealing with an issue we had with our electricity top-up card. I often miss the way how things just work in the UK, whereas here, if something works, we’re surprised. Pleasantly, at least. It shouldn’t be like that though!

We have a card with which we can go to the bank and top up our electricity meter as and when required. A few days ago when we tried, we were unable to ‘buy electricity’ (as we say in Chinese), and told that there was a problem with the card. Sigh. We called the number given, were put on hold and told that ‘the line is currently busy, please wait in line or hang up now’. If I’m calling, clearly I want to speak to someone, why would I hang up?! Instead, after a few minutes of ‘waiting in line’, we were hung up on. And not just once, not twice, but three times. Thank you. Very. Much.

Trying our luck today at the bank once more, entertaining the idea that the card not working was a temporary, one-off problem, and still being unable to top up, we were given yet another number to ring. This one took us straight through to a woman who told me that we had to go to the office of the State Grid company, in order to replace our card. We have no idea why, but it needed to be done if we wanted to buy ourselves more electricity before our current supply ran out. Off we went to find this address, and from then on, it was a pretty smooth procedure….

The woman told us which counter to go to to get the new card, and tried explaining to us that when we next go to the bank, we don’t need to insert the card into the slot in the machine, as we had had to do previously, but instead we should just top up at the counter. We didn’t understand what she said the first time round, and when we asked her for confirmation, she just gave up! She picked up her phone, and began talking about “some foreigners, who don’t understand her trying to explain how we should use this new card” and “could you please explain to them, because I’ve tried and they don’t understand me”. Excuse me, but we can understand you very well just now, and some people might say it’s a little rude to talk about us like that when we’re sat right in front of you! We’re trying our best, please be a little patient and do the same with us – we didn’t get it fully the first, and ONLY, time you said it, but please give us another chance 😦

The answer to life, the universe and everything? NO!

I know she was only trying to help, but it really wasn’t a huge change, as they made it out to be, and it probably took more time to understand this via the attempted English explanation over the phone than it would have had she just tried once more.

And that was actually, probably my best experience with systems in China.
Doesn’t that say a lot?


About Ibtehaal

I graduated with a degree in Chinese and Economics, which involved spending a year studying Chinese in Beijing. This turned out to be the hardest but most rewarding thing I think I have ever done. I've now returned to China for another year, to study in Shanghai and figure out my next steps.

5 responses »

  1. Lebanese food in CHINA!? Whaaaaa, mind inception!

    • Lebanese, Iranian, Indian, Mexican, Italian – it all exists… in the foreign expat-side of the city. More expensive than buying local Chinese food, of course, but usually still cheaper than London.

  2. Wow we could really use some of that weather here…minus the whole stomach/back revealing thing 😛

    Also OM NOM NOM.


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