Cough... sneeze... hack… and a symphony of other grotesque sounds have assaulted our ears over the last two weeks; a result of Beijing's notorious "fog". Hopefully some cold fronts will blow the soupy air away, but with coal powered heating plants revving up for the city’s winter heating don't get your hopes up too much. Luckily for Beijingers, there are plenty of activities, from new movies to Thanksgiving dinner, which you can enjoy safely indoors. Read on to find out more.
1) Air pollution...but just how much?
For months there has been debate on just how polluted Beijing's air really is. Chinese media tends to label it "heavy fog" or "slight pollution", while measurements by foreign agencies label it "hazardous". The difference all comes down to how the two are measuring air particles in the polluted air. Chinese monitoring systems only measured down to particles 10 microns in diameter while many foreign monitoring systems measure down to 2.5 microns. This explains why foreign monitoring systems, like the one at the US embassy in Beijing, often show (much) higher readings than the Beijing’s official numbers. However, recently China has implemented new regulations to measure pollutants down to the 2.5-micron level. Hopefully this will lead to more accurate readings and clear the air over the debate on just how polluted Beijing is!
2) O2 Sun bookstore closes its doors
At its peak, the Xiamen based bookseller had 15 stores in Beijing, but now it is no more. In late October, news began to spread that over the last four years O2 Sun's profits were down by over 40% and that a shutdown was eminent. Soon after, book suppliers were rushing to O2 stores around Beijing to get back their stock while confused customers watched the pandemonium. Rumour has it that the police even had to be called into O2's Soho branch. Now that all of their locations are closed down, what is left of their stock has mysteriously disappeared along with several members of O2 Sun's management team. Guess they never thought of having a "going out of business sale".
3) Hacker on trial
For the last few years, Chinese hackers have come into the limelight for all kinds of Internet mayhem that they have caused around the world. Finally it seems Beijing is paying attention; in early November Chinese master hacker Wang Xianbing stood trial in Haidian District for allegedly providing programmes and training to other hackers. According to court records, Wang's hacking programmes were downloaded over 12,000 times by his students. Internet security in China is starting to become a very big issue, and as Wang said himself: "A person with only primary school education can become a hacking master." Such statements seem to have worried city officials. If convicted Wang could face seven years in jail.
1) Hollywood in Beijing
The number of foreign films allowed in China is limited to roughly 20 per year, but for some reason, there will be a flood of Hollywood blockbusters making their way to Beijing over the next few days. First, Sci-Fi boxing movie Real Steal starring Aussie Hugh Jackman opened on November 8th. The movie is set in the near future where robots have replaced humans in the boxing ring (for some reason).
Next, Immortals, which is loosely based on the Greek legend of Theseus (the mythical founder of Athens) opens on November 11th. The film promises plenty of 3D hack and slash action and with Mickey Rourke staring as an evil Titan that has declared war on humanity. Finally, the Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson collaboration, The Adventures of Tintin, opens (in 3D) on November 15th. The movie follows the adventures of a young journalist Tintin and his dog Snowy, and is based off a comic book series by Belgian artist Georges Remi. Check your local listings and then head off to the nearest cinema for a little smog-free entertainment!
2) Monika Kruse
If Berlin techno is your type of thing, then head over to Haze on November 18th to hear the beats of one of Berlin's best DJs, Monika Kruse. Tickets are 100 RMB and the show starts at 22:00. Make sure you dress to impress and are ready to get your groove on because it's bound to be a poppin' time.
3) Thanksgiving Feasts
Yes, we know that Thanksgiving is traditionally an American holiday, but with all the restaurants, bars and hotels offering loads of Western comfort food and the temptation of freshly cooked turkey, it's a great excuse to spend a night out with friends. And by spending a night out with friends we mean stuffing your face. Look for the eChinacities Thanksgiving roundup early next week to find all the best places to enjoy the feast in Beijing.
1) Italian pastries
If you are a cannoli fan then it is time to rejoice because Italian pastry shop Da Giuliano is now open on Sanlitun Beixiaojie. Their selection goes well beyond Italian pastries, so get out there and indulge yourself.
2) Indian Fever
The lovely tastes of India have long graced Beijing, but now new players are entering the market and old ones are expanding. Sanlitun favourite Ganges plans to open a new restaurant in Wudaokou's U-Center on November 15th and there are reports that a new Indian restaurant called Kharjuraho is in Sanlitun Soho in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes open!
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Keywords: Beijing watchdog Thanksgiving in Beijing Hollywood movies in Beijing hackers in China Beijing air pollution
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