Discover More, China in Beijing
We sent Cramer out with a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: China to get his perspective on what it means to use a travel guide in his local area.
The photos I took show exactly what I like to do when traveling through any new place. I like to find the best and the most simple aspects of a city. I like to be around the people and see how they live and how they interact with the place they live. Going back and looking through my photos, I think they show the locals doing exactly what they do every day: work, play, live and love.
Place you live: Beijing, China
How would you describe Beijing? Beijing is crazy and huge. I discover new places every day. It’s an awesome mix of Chinese traditions and Western influence. Food is very important and it’s everywhere. Friends don’t even say “hello” to each other here, they just ask “have you eaten?” You see it all, from migrant workers to families being driven around in Bentleys and Maseratis. There are people getting in yelling matches in restaurants over who will pay the bill. There are people sitting on the bus, hitting themselves all over to keep the blood flowing. There’s always something happening. After living here for almost 10 months, it would take something really crazy to surprise me.
Can you sum up the people of Beijing? The people can be intense and also super friendly. It’s pretty casual. Keeping face is important here and can make for some pretty interesting situations and encounters.
What was it like looking through a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide of your hometown? It was great! I knew a little bit about many of the places in Beijing, but the book provided a lot more interesting and factual information. It was so great to read a little history about places you have been to (or haven’t been to and want to visit). It put me in the mindset of a tourist and made me look at the city as if I was a newcomer and this was my first time here. It made me excited to see everything in Beijing and travel through more of China.
Did you find anything new or inspiring about your city in the book? The Beihai and Houhai areas are extremely amazing. They are beautiful and full of culture, great food, and people from all walks of life. I was so happy the DK Travel guide brought me back there. I will be frequenting these areas more often now.
How did the guide influence the photos you took of Beijing? The DK Travel guide put me in the “hey, I’m a tourist and this is my first time here so I have to take it all in” mindset. I loved it. I couldn’t stop thinking that I need to do this at least once a week. It was good for the mind, body, and soul.
Occupation: English teacher
What is a perfect day in Beijing? My perfect day starts early with Mandarin Chinese lessons, followed by noodles or Korean for lunch in Beijing’s traditional narrow alley neighborhoods called hutongs. Then I’d spend the afternoon in one of Beijing’s many beautiful parks, reviewing what I learned in class, drinking wine, and hanging out in the shade next to a pond with friends. After that it’s dinner at an outdoor chuan-er (Beijing BBQ) restaurant with cheap and cold beers. And then I’d finish the night off at the Cafe De La Poste, a local French bar next to Yonghegong Lama Temple.
What do you love about Beijing? I love the layout of the city. It’s built on a ring system so everything is easy to get to and easy to find. I love being able to leave my house and ride my scooter and pass by things I didn’t see the day before. I love being surrounded by a culture so different than my own, and I love being able to practice speaking Mandarin with the locals. I also love the food and when locals come up and ask me for a picture. I love seeing old people without wheelchairs stomping around the city like they’re not 98 years old. I love the sense of community here. And I love to people watch.
What do you dislike? The pollution can get annoying. Although it doesn’t bother me too much and there are many beautiful days (especially so far this summer), it can easily dampen anyone’s mood. Also, being able to head out and buy something Western can be a bit of a hassle. Import taxes make Western products ridiculously more expensive here, leaving many expats settling for lesser quality knock off products or paying a lot of money for overseas shipping.
Can you give a couple of tips to aspiring Instagram photographers? Keep it simple. People use their thumb to quickly scroll through Instagram. They want to see something simple that sticks out. Also, lighting is super important.
What was your impression of the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: China? The size of the book is perfect. You can easily carry it in your backpack, or in my case, my scooter. The little snippets of history and information give you great insight into the city as a whole.
We have teamed up with our friends at DK Eyewitness Travel to bring you a VERY exciting giveaway. 20 DK Eyewitness Travel Guides and 2 big Global Yodel prints are up for grabs! Who wants them? Jump over HERE to win!