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My name is Steve McIntosh. I am an American from Santa Barbara and my wife is from Beijing. We moved to Beijing in 2004. It is my home.

Beijing is an incredibly exciting place to live — it is safe, it is friendly, and cheap. I can look out the front or back window of my apartment and see workers planting trees, fixing sidewalks, building buildings, all in preparation for the Olympics. I live right next to the Olympic venue and it is a great time to be here.

I have done many interesting things and I have met many fascinating people from all over the world. I love the US, and I miss the culture, my friends, the food, and my language. But right now, Beijing is an exciting and fascinating place to live. I love it here – Beijing is my home.

I know the best places in Beijing to eat, sleep, and have a good time. I also know the places and things to avoid. I know the city well. I am here to help.

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Welcome to the board Mac! Nice to get some comment from centre stage.

:)

One question _ I was reading the other day that the pollution in the city was actually hitting more critical levels than usual lately. How has the air been, and could it mar the games?

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Scientifik: The earthquake did not do any damage in Beijing. But the main initial quake was felt by many people in many buildings.

Sir R: No, lately pollution hasn't been significantly worse than other times. Has been windy and sometimes sandy on some days this past week. On the subject of pollution and prognostications for same during the Games, I have been conducting a little observational experiment which I will share with the GB board shortly (I need to get through May 31 to finish the data set.) You might be surprised at the results and my own predictions.

Mac: Is there some reason your website can't be accessed--is it up and running yet? I'm in Beijing, and either the site is blocked here, or there is a technical glitch somewhere.

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Hi Steve and welcome

My girlfriend and i will be at the games and my girlfriend is worried about the food so if you know of a few good SAFE places to eat that would be great and hopefully near Tiananmen Square as that where our hostel is.

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Welcome Steve

I allready had a good idea of the restaurant I will visit during my three weeks stay. (DaDong, Noodle Loft, The Courtyard, Din Tai Fung, Yuxiang Renjia, Feiteng Yuxiang, Made in China, etc...)

But I will be very happy to discovered somes new ones recommended by you.

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Welcome to the board Mac! Nice to get some comment from centre stage.

:)

One question _ I was reading the other day that the pollution in the city was actually hitting more critical levels than usual lately. How has the air been, and could it mar the games?

There was heavy pollution a few days ago. It was unhealthy for everyone to be outside. The last two days were very windy which blew the pollution away but brought in a lot of sand from the North. Competition would be suspended on heavy pollution days. Hopefully, things will improve by then.

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Welcome Steve

I allready had a good idea of the restaurant I will visit during my three weeks stay. (DaDong, Noodle Loft, The Courtyard, Din Tai Fung, Yuxiang Renjia, Feiteng Yuxiang, Made in China, etc...)

But I will be very happy to discovered somes new ones recommended by you.

All of those places are good. The Courtyard is very nice but very expensive. The other places are cheap. If you want to know the best restaurants in Beijing rated by the people that live here, go to www.thebeijinger.com. They have a list of the best restaurants. My favorite is Annie's. There are several throughout Beijing. They have great pizza and Italian food and it is very reasonable. BTW, if you want a great burger, the cheapest place in town is the Burger King at the new Terminal 3 at the Beijing airport. It's the only Burger King in China, as far as I know. There are McDonalds everywhere in Beijing.

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Hi Steve and welcome

My girlfriend and i will be at the games and my girlfriend is worried about the food so if you know of a few good SAFE places to eat that would be great and hopefully near Tiananmen Square as that where our hostel is.

Tiananmen is two blocks away from Wanfujing, which is probably the largest shopping area in Beijing. There is a large underground mall called the Oriental Plaza which is Beijing's largest shopping mall. There are hundreds of places to eat. All restaurants in the mall are clean and inspected. In four years, I have never gotten sick eating the food in Beijing. Also, most restaurants are now rated by the government. They receive a rated A, B, or C. An "A" rating is mostly for 5 star hotels. A "B" rating is very good. I wouldn't worry about eating the food here.

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Mac: Is there some reason your website can't be accessed--is it up and running yet? I'm in Beijing, and either the site is blocked here, or there is a technical glitch somewhere.

My site is hosted on the Mac Dot Com website. All sites hosted on that service are blocked in China. I do not know why China chooses to block that service but I would guess it is because there are a lot of blogs hosted on the site. China does not like blogs and blocks many of them. The internet here is slow if you are trying to access sites outside of China. Wikipedia was blocked until recently. Many other sites are blocked, including ones that talk about the earthquake.

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Tiananmen is two blocks away from Wanfujing, which is probably the largest shopping area in Beijing. There is a large underground mall called the Oriental Plaza which is Beijing's largest shopping mall. There are hundreds of places to eat. All restaurants in the mall are clean and inspected. In four years, I have never gotten sick eating the food in Beijing. Also, most restaurants are now rated by the government. They receive a rated A, B, or C. An "A" rating is mostly for 5 star hotels. A "B" rating is very good. I wouldn't worry about eating the food here.

Oriental Plaza has a number of great restaurants - including a Sizzler - and yes the salad bar is awesome.

You also have try the Quanjude Duck Restaurant - the one off Wangfujing is huge and having eaten there a few times it is very good.

If you want junk food Oriental Plaza also has a McDonalds, there is another one near the main railway station (and a KFC).

There is a very cheap and nice restaurant above the City International Hostel - also opposite Beijing Station that has one of the best "beef" and onion dishes I have ever eaten. There are a few nice options out near the zoo as well.

As for pollution, during the Games it will be sandy and very very hot. I'd imagine BOCOG and the government have a rotating car ban planned - maybe odd numbered cars one day, even the next - or they'll divert traffic from the stretch of the ring road that cuts between the Sports Centre and the Olympic Green. I always stay at a place in Chaoyang and the food options are all very good locally (go to Megabite - great options!) - and transport links are fine. I have also never been sick from in Beijing and I've been going back and forth to China for the past 20 odd years.

Oh and as for Burger King - there is one in Shanghai and also in Hong Kong.

Edited by thatsnotmypuppy
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My site is hosted on the Mac Dot Com website. All sites hosted on that service are blocked in China. I do not know why China chooses to block that service but I would guess it is because there are a lot of blogs hosted on the site. China does not like blogs and blocks many of them. The internet here is slow if you are trying to access sites outside of China. Wikipedia was blocked until recently. Many other sites are blocked, including ones that talk about the earthquake.

Mac, I've lived in Beijing for many years and am well aware of all the internet blockage. The situation is actually better now than it was years ago, though still frustrating. Yes, the preponderance of blogs on the host is exactly the reason your site can't be accessed from inside China. The main point of all this is, any GB'er who wants to make use of your site needs to access information BEFORE they arrive in China. Unless they bring a laptop or have access to a private computer here, and can use VPN or proxy.

TNMP: No, Beijing should not be sandy during the Games. The sandiness happens when the weather is mostly dry, the wind is strong, and comes from the north/northwest. These are common spring conditions, not summer conditions. It may be polluted during the Games, but I've never seen sandy conditions during a Beijing August.

Generally, On Beijing Duck: The various Quanjude locations have OK duck but mostly rides on past fame and charge a lot for that name, due to the high ratio of tourists vs locals that end up there. And the side dishes are only feh. Most expats and locals prefer Dadong or King duck restaurants, also Liqun, my personal favorite is Dadong--also mentioned above by CP. There are other locally-known places that do good duck, but are harder to direct the visitor to.

Generally, On Food Safety: By developing country and Asian standards, China is a relatively safer place to eat out, compared to India, SE Asia, etc. And Beijing particularly so--I'm never sick from food here. Just make sure you use common sense. The more cautious visitor should avoid drinks with ice and salad-type cold dishes in small neighborhood Chinese restaurants (better restaurants and chains like Sizzler, fast-food, etc are normally OK to indulge). In summer, especially watch out for western-style toppings and dressings made from mayonnaise and other things that can go "off" quickly if not handled and kept correctly. This advice is not unique to China/Beijing, of course. It is a good idea to have a Hepatitis A vaccination series before you come to China (if you have not already had this).

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All of those places are good. The Courtyard is very nice but very expensive. The other places are cheap. If you want to know the best restaurants in Beijing rated by the people that live here, go to www.thebeijinger.com. They have a list of the best restaurants. My favorite is Annie's. There are several throughout Beijing. They have great pizza and Italian food and it is very reasonable. BTW, if you want a great burger, the cheapest place in town is the Burger King at the new Terminal 3 at the Beijing airport. It's the only Burger King in China, as far as I know. There are McDonalds everywhere in Beijing.

Made in China, like Courtyard, is also very expensive. CP, if we're using your credit card, please invite me along! :lol: And let's make sure that we're defining "cheap" as relative to North America/Europe/Australia pricing. Most of the restaurants on CP's list are pricey by local standards but average by those of the average GB'ers home country. It is possible to eat extremely well and cheaply in Chinese restaurants--the ones not affiliated with major hotels. Western "fine dining" will cost you dearly and especially if they are using imported ingredients like good beef, etc. For restaurant choices, I would not automatically believe what's on the Beijinger.com (affiliated with That's Beijing expat monthly magazine). Those peoples' choices and the magazine's recommendations are heavily skewed towards their major advertisers--some of which are OK, some of which serve up crap. I'm forever amazed at some of the glowing reviews they give certain places. Annies is edible and reasonable and very kid-friendly, and a useful place to pop into, but hardly the Best Italian (or even best pizza) in town. The Burger King at T3 is the only one in Beijing right now, and there are very few others. BK some years ago made a concious decision not to go into the China market, this obviously represents a change. But...let's hope GB'ers visiting Beijing venture out a bit and don't depend on the McD's of the City for their survival!

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Hmm, I was in Beijing last August and there was a yellow haze all over the city - I assumed it was sand as I am not sure what kind of fuel gives off a yellow smoke? Either way it will be very hot!

As for Quanjude - I've had the 'duck banquet' a few times - and aprt from the mustard duck web it was all very good. Of course you'd know as duck is eaten much more in China than Australia!

I also suggest trying the local restaurants in what ever part of Beijing you find yourself in. There are some amazing little places hidden in many of the hutong as well as away from the main roads - but as you said avoid ice and 'chilled' dishes. And it goes without saying unless you live in Beijing and are used to it or bring a filter keep away from the tap water!!

I must say my favourite place (which I cant even name as I dont read mandarin) is near Tiantin Park. I'll be in Beijing again (I just got back a week ago - sheesh!) in late June so I'll take a photo and maybe between you and me, jiejie, we can figure out what its called as it is an awesome little place.

Finally... have you been to the new Capital Museum, jiejie? Your thoughts? I like the layout and the quality of the exhibits, it just seemed a bit empty. Hopefully there will be a blockbuster show there during the Games - and I did enjoy the history of Beijing film they screen.

Oh and as for Beijing Mac's website - all it has is an introduction page and some ads for apartments which he is charging $1000 a night for during the Games... no offense Mac but they are some of the hghest prices I have seen for an apartment - even during the Games and even that close to the Olympic Green (well the Olympic Forest). There are others available for around €150-€300 of a similar quality advertised online - and most of the available hotels are much, much cheaper. Hostel private rooms with ensuites are going for 100US a night or so.

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Hmm, I was in Beijing last August and there was a yellow haze all over the city - I assumed it was sand as I am not sure what kind of fuel gives off a yellow smoke? Either way it will be very hot!... <snip 1)>

...I must say my favourite place (which I cant even name as I dont read mandarin) is near Tiantin Park. I'll be in Beijing again (I just got back a week ago - sheesh!) in late June so I'll take a photo and maybe between you and me, jiejie, we can figure out what its called as it is an awesome little place....<snip 2)>

Finally... have you been to the new Capital Museum, jiejie? Your thoughts? I like the layout and the quality of the exhibits, it just seemed a bit empty. Hopefully there will be a blockbuster show there during the Games - and I did enjoy the history of Beijing film they screen...<snip 3)>

Oh and as for Beijing Mac's website - all it has is an introduction page and some ads for apartments which he is charging $1000 a night for during the Games... no offense Mac but they are some of the hghest prices I have seen for an apartment - even during the Games and even that close to the Olympic Green (well the Olympic Forest). There are others available for around €150-€300 of a similar quality advertised online - and most of the available hotels are much, much cheaper. Hostel private rooms with ensuites are going for 100US a night or so.

1) The yellow haze you saw last August was not sand, it was the terrible pollution coming a little bit from Beijing municipality itself, but primarily from factories south of Beijing in Hebei and Shandong provinces. These are the some of the polluters that are supposed to be shut down from mid-July until after the Paralympics are over. I belive the authorities are dead serious and will do it. (They are also going to cut the factories off the power grid to enforce.) Beijing will supposedly shut its nearby power generating facilities, and will pull power off the national grid that originates from more distant points.

2) Bring that restaurant photo and vague description in relation to Tiantan..or send it in advance and I'll hunt for the place!

3) Is this the museum just off Tiananmen that has the big model of Beijing on display that you can walk around? If so, it's a good museum indeed (I tend to call it the City Planning Museum) and under-marketed. If not the same place, I'll have to hunt down the one you are describing. Beijing has had a lot of its museums shuttered for renovations the last year or so and many are just reopening, so I'll need to get acquainted and reacquainted with some of them, in order to be of use for visitor recommendations.

4) About your last paragraph, I didn't want to say anything earlier as there was no way to put it nicely. But I thought it odd that a newbie would just pop up and share their real name (?) and offer services to a bunch of strangers. It's just a little too...well, Chinese-advertising methodology. Maybe I've been in China too long and am cynical, but I got the impression there was another agenda behind the friendliness and TNMP, I think you just found what it is. Heck, I'm from the Southern USA and friendly and hospitable as we are, even we're not that forthcoming on an open Internet discussion board right off the bat. And frankly, for someone who's been in Beijing 3-4 years, something rings odd about his suggestions previously given--it's just not what an expat truly familiar with the city would be imparting. If I am wrong about this, I publicly apologize in advance to Beijing Mac and accept my 50 lashes.

Addl: We must figure out a way to have at least one GB "Do" during the Games. We may need at least two, to accommodate those who are here for the first week but not the second, and vice-versa. :D

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Oriental Plaza has a number of great restaurants - including a Sizzler - and yes the salad bar is awesome.

You also have try the Quanjude Duck Restaurant - the one off Wangfujing is huge and having eaten there a few times it is very good.

If you want junk food Oriental Plaza also has a McDonalds, there is another one near the main railway station (and a KFC).

There is a very cheap and nice restaurant above the City International Hostel - also opposite Beijing Station that has one of the best "beef" and onion dishes I have ever eaten. There are a few nice options out near the zoo as well.

As for pollution, during the Games it will be sandy and very very hot. I'd imagine BOCOG and the government have a rotating car ban planned - maybe odd numbered cars one day, even the next - or they'll divert traffic from the stretch of the ring road that cuts between the Sports Centre and the Olympic Green. I always stay at a place in Chaoyang and the food options are all very good locally (go to Megabite - great options!) - and transport links are fine. I have also never been sick from in Beijing and I've been going back and forth to China for the past 20 odd years.

Oh and as for Burger King - there is one in Shanghai and also in Hong Kong.

Huh! Pls,human being.

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Finally... have you been to the new Capital Museum, jiejie? Your thoughts? I like the layout and the quality of the exhibits, it just seemed a bit empty. Hopefully there will be a blockbuster show there during the Games - and I did enjoy the history of Beijing film they screen.

Ignore this part of my previous response--not the same place. I know the place you're talking about, it's new and on the near west side down from Tiananmen. Haven't been there yet. Interesting tie-in: this year is the "Cultural Year of Greece in China" and at the Capital Museum, May 20-July 6 is an exhibition of objects and costumes used in the Athens 2004 Games Opening Ceremony. Will head over and check it all out this coming week. :)

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Any authentic Chinese "opium dens" where one can savor a bit of the decdadent old China (i.e., sample high-grade ope) and maybe carress some pretty maiden's "bound-feet"?

Alas, I'm afraid the real deals have all fallen victim to product quality shortages and the purity of the Communist Party. However, I suppose for the Games, the Chinese could bring some re-creations back as pavilions in some of the 24 "Cultural Squares" that will be set up for the public around Beijing during the Games. Maybe even a "flagship" Den in the middle of the Olympic Green. They'd be HUGE moneymakers. I think this is one financial opportunity overlooked by BOCOG, so I'll get an email suggestion off to them right away. Time is short before August 8, but hey this is China, 75 days to go is plenty enough for the Chinese to copy a rocket ship, so a few Fun Houses should be a cakewalk for them...

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Just curious, anyone know if there will there be a large outdoor viewing on a big screen of the opening ceremony? Do you know if they might have something going on around the National Stadium/Olympic Green area? I prefer not to watch in my hotel room or a smaller place. Would be great if I can join a crowd and even possibly see the torch as it approaches the stadium.

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Almost all of the past few decades worth of Olympic Games have set up 'live site' area where fans can gather and watch the Games on big screens.

I'd hazard a guess and say Tiananmen Square, Tiantin Park and perhaps somewhere near the railway stations would be the obvious spots. Also up near the zoo. As for being outside the Olympic Stadium - most Olympic Parks are locked down - you only get in if you have an event ticket for that day at a venue in the immediate area. Perhaps they will set up something in the Olympic Sports Centre which is across the ring road from the Olympic Green and contains a stadium which seats 30,000 - 40,000. Coca Cola always sets up a fans zone as well - I'd guess that is where that will be - or in the Green itself.

Either way watch the spectator's page on the Beijing website - they will update it with everything (spectator guide, etc) closer to the Games.

Jiejie - I find it bizarre the Capital Museum (yep the new one - it's in Muxidi I think?) will host an exhibition directly tied in with the Olympics and close it BEFORE the actual Games start! Most Olympic cities have those kind of exhibits running through the Games as part of the Cultural Festival. Then again I havent heard a peep from BOCOG about the Cultural Festival that is meant to run alongside the Games. I have noted that Andrea Bocelli and Alicia Keys are playing in Hong Kong/Japan/ Korea the week before the Opening Ceremony... May I boldly hazard a guess and say they may be involved somehow?? mmm? ;)

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Then again I havent heard a peep from BOCOG about the Cultural Festival that is meant to run alongside the Games. I have noted that Andrea Bocelli and Alicia Keys are playing in Hong Kong/Japan/ Korea the week before the Opening Ceremony... May I boldly hazard a guess and say they may be involved somehow?? mmm? ;)

Mid-april, they announced in their website that it will be the biggest olympic cultural festival ever.

They even announced few names

Here's the link for the text :

http://en.beijing2008.cn/culture/ceremonies/n214309747.shtml

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