Why I love Beijing more than Shanghai

By Michail Kosak Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/9 16:18:39

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT


As someone who lived in both Beijing and Shanghai the question I'm asked the most is, "Which do you prefer, Beijing or Shanghai?" While I will always remember both cities fondly, the vibrant riveting city of Beijing has captured my heart completely.

To some foreigners who experienced these cities, this statement may seem strange. In fact, some of the people I spoke to didn't share the same view. With such a wide consensus against my motion, you're probably wondering what made me fall in love with the capital.

First, the food. Shanghai dishes are known to be sweet, and I prefer savory dishes. Local Beijing dishes such as zhajiangmian, huoshao, youbing or jianbing are some of my favorite foods here, and I can eat them every day.

Also, people from all corners of the country come together in the capital, making it easy to find their regional cuisine without having to go very far. Whenever I want fiery Sichuan cuisine, it is always just a short walk to my destination.

Another aspect I favor in Beijing is the language. It takes time and effort to learn a new language, and it is easier when you don't have to fight with dialects on top of that. It rained during my first week in Shanghai. I exited subway station and needed an umbrella. Luckily, an old woman was selling umbrellas at the subway entrance. I immediately asked her how much one costs, and she said, "Si kuai."

"Wow, what a cheap price," I thought as I gave her four yuan ($0.60).

But she declined and said again, "Si kuai."

"I was confused, isn't this four yuan?" I thought to myself. I thought about it for some seconds and then asked her, "Shi kuai?"

I took out a 10 yuan note, and she nodded and said, "Si kuai!"

The lack of 'h' sounds is just one of the things that make learning Chinese a bit more difficult in this environment. In Beijing, everybody speaks the textbook and movie language I'm used to hearing, and I have fewer problems understanding people.

The last point which draws me to Beijing is the culture. Make no mistake Shanghai has a superb environment with cultures from all around the world, but I'm in China to learn more about Chinese culture and immerse myself in its customs. In Shanghai, I had the feeling my English improved more than my Chinese, as I met so many international people.

My roommates were from Sweden, the US and Columbia, and I interacted less with the Chinese. Beijing, as both the political and cultural center of China, is truly a Chinese city, and speaking at least some Chinese is quite helpful in living here. I feel that in Beijing I have a better chance of learning what being Chinese really means, and I'm looking forward to the rest of my experience here.

These are the reasons I love Beijing more than Shanghai, but this is just my opinion. Visit both of them and see what kind of adventure you will have!

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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