The Unbearable Lightness of being in Wudaokou

Two and a half months have passed since I first set foot in Wudaokou, our little part of Beijing, and I feel I can say I have adapted to life here pretty well. Perhaps too well. Beijing is great, even thought it is a huge city, getting there and back again is not too much 麻烦 (mafan - stress, trouble), much thanks to the great metro system as well as fairly cheap taxis, and there is so much to experience here. But Wudaokou is so convienient. One thing is important to understand of Wudaokou: it's a melting pot for all the foreign students, and therefore offers food for the homesick mind - if it's cheap, strong drinks, hookah-smoking or indeed any international food you could possibly crave. And it's so easy. Everything is within a five-minute walk.

But it tires me. When things require so little effort, one turns effortless and numb, and succumb to that dangerous delivery-trap. Because after a while, a five-minute walk is too far. The only problem is delivery only comes in the shape of pizza and hamburger. I'm not a huge fan of either, unless very homemade or, in the former case, authentic italian. So I try to force myself to go for a walk and find somewhere else to eat, and I'm almost every time rewarded with excellent food in small chinese family-run restaurants, or at least something else than hamburger.

That busy place up the wooden stairs - yum! Much better than the cockroach-ridden floors of La Bamba (but I must say - their fajitas rock!). I love the hotpot-place right next to out apartment, I love the Chilipot place 5 minutes away, I love that little hidden place on campus with the best beef potato dish one could imagine.

When I spoke to last years' students they told me it was so easy to end up eating just junk. I laughed and wondered how one could possibly resort to McDonald's and KFC when China offers (in my opinion) the greatest of all cuisines, but I'm starting to understand now. Alone (almost) in a new country, many of us have never lived away from our parents before, and with all the pressure from our fantastic, but hard program, no wonder some fall under the spell of the unbearable lightness of being in Wudaokou and wake up half a year later and 20 pounds heavier. Lucky me - I don't like fast food ^^


This photo is from last time I was in China. For more photos, go to my Flickr photos.

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