Lu-Hai Liang

thoughts from a freelance foreign correspondent

Back in The Big Beige

with 2 comments

My nickname for Beijing is The Beige, which is usually the colour of the sky, owing to the terrific pollution and smog. I’ve arrived in the city from my small hometown of Hastings and the first couple days I always find it a surrealist experience. It takes a little time to adapt to the ‘Chinese-ness’ of everything. Also Beijing is massive and colossal in many aspects, the size of everything, the number of people and cars, the dysfunction of blocky communist architecture with islands of modernity nestled between roads the size of Wales.

The pollution sucks. It’s not just the tiny particles which can have health-screwing effects in the long term, there’s also the dust. Oh the dust. Already my nose is perpetually blocked and every time I come home I feel like Han Solo; dusty and disheveled.

Still there are benefits, the cheap food (I almost never cook in China), the cheap beer and the opportunity of it all. It’s a city built on dreams: gaudy, grand governmental dreams, small and large foreigner dreams, and the many million migrant dreams which are invariably crushed by reality.

What will I do different this time? Hmmmm, lots of things I hope. Really try to completely fluent up my Chinese, try to actually get a steady paying, no screw that, a big paying job. Get a bike. Make more cool friends. Travel more. Write more. Essays.

I’ve already landed an apartment. 1200 Yuan a month. That’s about £120. Found it on a Chinese site – they’re cheaper than the expat sites. The place doesn’t have a kitchen and the room is small, but for that price, I cannot really complain. I’m also heavily cash-less, relying on my bank overdraft. And waiting on several hundreds of pounds from freelance clients. It’ll come.

So for now, I’m sitting pretty, soaking it up, keeping busy and sipping coffee. The Beige is a colour you get used to.

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Written by Lu-Hai Liang

October 17, 2013 at 12:53 am

2 Responses

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  1. […] Since I’ve been here, I’ve only freelanced ONE article: a long piece about entrepreneurship in Beijing for the New Statesman. I was commissioned for two last month, which is keeping me occupied currently – December and January are slow months for freelance anyway. […]

  2. […] I’ve been here for over a year. What has happened? Originally, as I wrote in my first post while back in the city, I wanted to improve my Chinese to near-fluency (failed that one); get a decent paying job (that […]


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