Despite that there’s no other place on Earth which boasts so much history than Beijing, and for a very long time period, it wasn’t what brought me to the city. Modern Beijing did.
People say you’ve to step out of the picture to see the big picture, and that’s what I’m doing. As a Singaporean, these are trying times. In plain sight, the country’s dynamics are changing – the things I identified as being Singaporean are being snatched away and replaced with a new truth I’m being force-fed to accept. The country now favours talent, experience, knowledge and ideas, and is instead eschewing roots, sense of belonging, history and relationships. I needed a coping mechanism – I needed to find my sense of self, to understand what I should or shouldn’t be holding on to. I recognized many similarities between Singapore and China’s major cities, hence I needed to understand and to experience. While there, I can understand the problems Beijing’s going through. As the city’s capital, it is a natural magnet for the Chinese. Unlike Shanghai, where only the strongest and smartest survive, Beijing has no choice, but to act like a sponge, absorbing all the good parts, and the filth. In that respect, the migration of the rural poor to urban Beijing makes Singaporeans’ grouse about the “foreign talent” look almost trivial. I suspect Beijingers aren’t too thrilled about it either, but have no choice but to accept their predicament… pretty reluctantly as well, hence they’re notably less warm, welcoming and open than Shanghai…
It is witnessing things like these, that allows me to set my soul free, cos’ I ain’t gonna be those tweeps in NTU, SMU, NUS complaining about “foreigners”. I don’t want to just sit down and complain – I’m a “do-er”, and if I can’t change fate, I’ll change my own.
One thing about Beijing I’ve always been fascinated by is its famed underground indie and art scene. It is said that Beijing boasts Asia’s largest underground indie and art scene – that’s if you can find it. Information is scarce, and I didn’t have time, so I went to visit the venue of the most “commercialized” art district – 798 Art District. The fact that 798 Art District is relatively inconvenient to get to – located outside the city, 5 miles away from the nearest subway station and has an inconspicuous entrance – automatically makes it “indie”. And by “indie”, I mean that unlike much of Beijing, the district is noticeably less crowded. There are people, and it ain’t exactly a ghost town, but there’s breathing space, and I liked that. There’s a sense of isolation, physically and ideologically. On the surface, the art works express frustration and anger presumably at the Chinese government but one has to understand that these artists grew up in a world half a generation ago where Mao’s words were the light, so read what you will.
(Below) I really loved the sunlight in the pictures. It was so beautiful that I did very few edits to them… Mostly cropping.
It was China Fashion Week that week, and as I explored, I spotted possibly the most beautiful Chinese on Earth – the models. Towering above me were the ladies who looked like refined Ziyis, Shu Qis, Jingchus, Zhou Xuns, Bingbings – super long slender legs encased in thigh-high boots revealing unbelievably fair skin, complete with lucious lips, sharp noses, healthy big eyes… The men were even more angelic and taller than the women – also unbelievably fair skinned, muscular yet not hulking and masculine yet with a certain boyish charm. It was so unreal, I mean, I almost wanted to like just sit in front of the men and wank to them. They were that perfect!
After that, I checked out Sanlitun where I got a little something from the Apple store.
Then Beijing CBD.
And Wangfujing, the shopping district, along with the Donghuamen Dajie.
WARNING: The picture after this might be unsuitable for the weak at heart.