My friend and her Dad collect me right from my front door, and spend their lunch hour taking me to my new home.
Haidian district is in North-West Beijing and is literally cluster upon cluster of new tower blocks. These are various complexes of identical buildings, each with their own security and usually some kind of park within the compound. My friend’s parents own two apartments in one tower block, and one is practically unused. I walk in and notice the shining wood floor, the huge size of the room and a big bay window. Everything we need has been provided, and they will cook for us so a kitchen is unnecessary! I am living in a rent-free two-bed apartment with a friend that I’ve already lived with for 3 years. I think I’ll be comfortable here.
If you stand at the bay window, past the piano and big television and beyond the executive desk, you can undertake my favourite hobby in the world: People Watching. The view to the right is a park, the perfect place for the increasing number of dog-walkers (it is now the Chinese Year of the Dog). With both pretty landscaping and a playground there’s something for everyone. And if my hobby isn’t your thing, then to the left, just across one road, looms the biggest shopping mall in all of Asia.
1 year old, 5 (and a bit) floors, several hundred stores and 6 very bright colours: that’s the Golden Resources Shopping Mall. It also includes a cinema, ice-skating rink, gym with sports courts, a nightclub, and most importantly a superstore for all your food and household needs. There is one flaw of not living in the student area: There’s only one place to access internet here, and even that is expensive as you must pay for the whole day. Ultimately, though, this shopping mall is just ideas from other countries, wrapped up in a different skin. I spot westerners here sometimes.