Guess who loves making top 5 lists when they travel? You’re right, it’s me! Arriving in Beijing has been quite the experience. My mandarin isn’t very good (read: non-existant) and people have been very tolerant of my smile while looking confused or smile while giving thumbs up routine. I bust out both about 100 times per day. Here’s what is cool, confusing or interesting so far in Beijing:

5. People walk down the street and through the parks clapping. Not everyone, of course, but it seems to be some sort of exercise routine. If anyone can clarify why this is done, I’d love to know! While we were on our way out to dinner, we stumbled upon a park full of people dancing to music. There were several people that seemed to know the steps, then those people were teaching everyone else the routine. I can only describe it as the Beijing version of line dancing – the steps were quite similar to everyone’s favorite, the boot scootin’ boogie. Witnessing this made me fall in love with Beijing.

4. Beijing seems to be the city that always sleeps. Rush hour starts around 8am, so I’m pretty sure people aren’t waking up at a ridiculous hour. However, they aren’t staying out late, either. Most restaurants where we are seem to close around 9 or 10pm and the streets feel deserted. I can’t tell if this is because we are in the suburbs of Beijing, or if it is the same all over. Knowing this, I can’t figure out what people do here for fun (other than line dancing in the park). Exercise doesn’t seem to play a big part in people’s lives, everyone says how tiny the apartments are and nobody stays out after dark. Right now, it is a mystery to me. 

3. The man purse. There seems to be a number of guys here carrying purses. I’m not talking about the Euro, manly bag (or the murse, as I prefer to call it), but rather a “does this match my outfit?” kind of a purse. They pull it off with this, I’ve-got-a-lot-of-stuff-to-carry vibe that totally works. Consequently, the number of guys willing to carrying their girlfriends’ bags seems to be far greater as well. 

2. I am shocked at the number of people who want a photo of random white people. Some ask, some sneak a photo, some straight out snap a photo. Mike calls it the Chinese photo pop. It’s cool to stare here and parents will stop their kids on the street and point at us. I’ve taken to busting out a sneaky middle finger every time I catch someone taking my photo. Who knows how many photo albums will have a photo of me, scratching my left eye with my middle finger in them by the time we leave? 

1. More is always better, especially when it comes to layers of clothing, sparkles or bows. I’m working on a version of Beyonce’s Put a Ring on it that instead goes, “If you like it you should put another bow on it. Whoa-oh-oh, one more bow, oh-oh-oh…” I seriously cannot argue against this trend as bows, polka dots and sparkles are all among my favorite things. The street style here is pretty incredible and I’m hoping to get more photos of it while we are out and about. 

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To sum it up, we’re loving it over here and I can’t wait to learn more about the history, culture and scene of Beijing.