From Perth, with love

By Belle Taylor ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-06-13 07:12:04

From Perth, with love
Discovering Beijing through bicycling 

From Perth, with love

Running through the haze becomes first Chinese lesson

Australians revere former Prime Minister Bob Hawke for his gaudy outfits and ability to skull a beer. Another former PM, Julia Gillard, enjoyed a small boost in popularity when she took part in a satirical video in late-2012 for a radio station. Gillard gave a deadpan warning that a Mayan prophecy predicting impending Armageddon was correct, and we should all prepare for the end of the world.

But politics is for the politicians. The people are another matter all together.

Slowly, as my Chinese language skills have improved, so has my ability to spot a joke, to defuse a possibly awkward situation - say, a dispute over a restaurant bill or an overly long taxi ride - with a laugh as opposed to a lot of yelling and hand gestures.

A French friend told to me that the thing he loves about Beijing is the openness of the city - that you can strike up a conversation with a stranger on the subway. "You cannot do that in Paris," he says.

I was struck by his comment, because when I visited my home city of Perth during Chinese New Year, and caught the train on a Friday evening it had felt like a party. People were making new friends, chatting about the night ahead, mingling with others through the carriage.

There can be a similar vibe in Beijing. Public spaces feel, by and large, friendly. If your language skills are up to scratch, you can chat to people on the train, pet stranger's dogs in parks and coo over babies in prams on the street. Ladies dance in public squares, men huddle over games of mahjong on the footpath and crowds form as musicians start playing outside subway stations.

Perhaps that's what I love about Beijing. I thought it was because it was different from anywhere else I have been, but the more I understand, the more I realize that much of what I love - the people, the street life, the energy of a place on the up - is what I also love about my home country.

And after all, sharing a laugh is often a lot easier than sharing a language.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Editor's Picks
Hot words

Most Popular