Maybe it is the population density, or the size of homes: we found many Beijing folks living life out on the street. Every day, we found no shortage of interesting sights and sounds and smells: early deliveries of fresh produce, eggs. Card games, mahjong, and board games played out on the street, with spectators. Every morning, four elderly ladies with walkers or wheelchairs met at the corner to trade gossip. Tiny shops specializing in only a few items, crammed floor to ceiling with shelves with tea, laundry baskets, shoes, religious items, with small food shops tucked in between.
We found everything we needed, including cold beer and a bottle of Spanish wine, within a block or two of our hotel.
Except coffee – good luck finding coffee. We found one coffee shop four blocks away, with prices higher than your local Starbucks. In the land of tea drinkers, you’ve got to really want your coffee. If it is essential to your morning ritual, you might want bring a portable coffee option with you. Most hotels provide cups and an electric tea kettle. Learn to drink tea. Or, add a line item in your travel budget for coffee.
Oh, and be prepared for some amusing English signs, too.