Beijinger

My Dear Readers,

As you may have noticed, I have not posted new articles in quite a while (sigh). Please, don’t think that I am giving up on this blog!

Actually, I have been quite busy during this past month. Classes are getting harder, and the idea of composing an interesting post does not seem as relaxing now that I spend most of my time drafting and correcting research papers.

But, for real, I have actually been thinking in length and breadth across about how to write the present article, but could not actually start putting my words down. I preferred to wait for inspiration to come. I am sorry I was so late!

 Actually, this blogpost was supposed to be about my 3 days weekend in Beijing. I soon as I got back home, I started to review all my photos, and what I actually did during these three days.

But then I thought: how many people in the world wrote about visiting the Forbidden City, or climbing the Great Wall? Well, probably a lot.

(and yes, it took me two weeks to arrive to this conclusion. Don’t question the ways of inspiration…)

So today, I am just going to talk about a personal Beijing favorite, a surprising place that stands out from the traditional Beijing: the 798 Art Zone .

But don’t worry fellow Chinese enthusiasts, I posted all my Beijing photos under the “Photo Gallery” section of this blog. You will be able to admire: a smoggy Tiananmen Square, how I almost died of a rickshaw accident in the Hutong district, some serious roasted Beijing duck, crowded Forbidden City, a plethora of panoramic photos of the Great Wall at the sunrise, and some bonus “local snaps”.

Again, I am sorry for the delay…but please, ENJOY!

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It’s Saturday afternoon, second day of our three days trip to Beijing. I have been looking for this moment since the day I red on the program handed by our guide that we would go to Beijing 798 Art Zone, “regularly compared to Soho”.

Soho, like “my” Soho? This oh-so-loved place of wonders, mix of artistic, boho-chic style in my home city? For some reasons, I have been receiving tons of articles about New York these past few weeks, and it’s true that a taste of home seemed refreshing to me, and more than welcomed!

After a long bus ride which exponentially increased my curiosity, we arrived in front of the “798” sign, and the group broke in order to visit the place.

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At first skeptical, I soon started to see how this place could remind visitors of Soho. It was the same “old-industry” ambiance, with worn out or copper pipes and bricks everywhere. The same little streets that do not follow a straight way. The same tiny hidden shops, where artist would display their own personal world.

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There were also many graffitis on the walls, another New-York based kind of art. If you were attentive, you could notice patterns, or drawings from the same artists, disseminated all over the art zone, representing a particular theme.

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Of course, there were also other kind of creations, including a lot of statuses. Some were very smart, some made me wonder what was going on here, some were fascinating (or scary in some ways), some I just wanted to know more about it, and some made me feel uncomfortable.

This was the case of this flashy bloody red statue of a man, standing straight, arms along his body, head up and mouth open. The  rough texture of his skin reminded me of this recent articles I red about the horrible treatment of prisoners in South Korea.

This statue displayed so many emotions that I think these people may have felt… distress, submission, pain, anger, sadness… I think it was the most powerful artwork I saw that day.

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Thankfully, there were also funnier things to discover. I decided to actually check out the shops. They were more Asian-like, selling very cute art craft, from China, Korea or Japan. Most of them were calligraphies, but you could also enjoy designer shoes, silly postcards, eccentric clothes or original ornaments.

At some point I ended up in this “all panda” cafe, with photos, stuffed animals, paintings, sofas, tables everywhere!

I also enjoyed a very americanized coffee, a true camarel machiatto, which is a personal must at 4:00 in the afternoon!

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It was a marriage of all senses as there was also an enjoyable soft and surprising background music, played by different stands. There was some American classics, an elegant mix of “fake” vintage french songs, and this chilly indie-pop that I personally enjoy!

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I had not visited everything yet when our guide called us to go back to the bus. Oh well, I think I enjoyed quite a lot already!

798 definitely tasted like home. Besides, I am pretty proud to say that I quite blended into the decor, probably the purple hair effect!

The only thing I regret is not taking shots of the very extravagant outfit worn by some local “hipsters“.

Maybe next time?

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