How big is Beijing?, by Patrick Watters

Before I moved to Beijing eight months ago, I was told that you could live in this city for many years without experiencing or seeing all that the city has to offer. After living here for some time now I firmly believe this to be true. When friends and family ask me what Beijing is like, the first word that comes to mind is big. Any synonym of that I can think of follows thereafter. This city is massive! However, it isn’t that difficult to navigate once you give yourself some time to settle in and get your bearings. I am a big fan of the subway system that crisscrosses its way all over Beijing. It is convenient, cheap and gets you anywhere in this bustling city. Here’s a fact for you: Beijing is ten times bigger than London. I have been to London and New York City but Beijing surely trumps both in size. You will definitely feel the intensity here when you experience the amount of people, cars, bikes, and scooters that are ever present around you. It can be quite daunting at first to venture around the city because of its size but what I would like to tell newcomers who are trying to find their way is to locate landmarks such as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Summer Palace and Sanlitun district so you can get an idea of how far your apartment is from places and for those times you get completely lost. This way you can justify if it is worth it to travel to that pizza joint, but trust me most of the time the craving will outweigh the travel time. A game I played in the beginning was to hop on the subway and get off at a random spot to explore and navigate my way around. It was fun and challenging and yet somehow I’d find my way home feeling accomplished. By now I personally feel that if I can live in one of the largest cities in the world, I can live anywhere!

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