Ask Beijing Today is our weekly attempt to make life in China less confusing. Whether it’s tracking down the papers to apply for a Chinese green card, dealing with KTV-crazy neighbors or finding the best buy on saffron, we are happy to help.

Send your questions to or post with the hash tag #askbjtoday on Twitter or #askbt# on Sina Weibo.

This Week…

Q. Are there any scuba lessons offered in Beijing? Where should I go to learn?

A. There are some places introducing diving and basic practice. You can find more detailed information on

Q. I saved my dog from a dog restaurant here. It’s a collie. When my landlord came today he asked me to get rid of it. He said that my dog is too big and it’s not allowed. I am not sure if I can trust what my landlord said. Is there anything I can do?

A. Large breeds are not allowed in downtown Beijing. But still, you might have seen some people walking their big dogs late at night in the Sanlitun area. Some dog owners told Beijing Today that they do worry about bumping into police and losing their pets. If you live in Tongzhou or any of the farther districts, you may be allowed to keep large dogs.

Q. What condiments (soup stocks or spice) are hard to find in Beijing? What should I bring with me from abroad? Are there any specialty shops that cater to expats’ food needs?

A. For condiments, you can check the mid-size foreign supermarkets like Jenny Lou’s, April Gourmet or BHG. The larger chains sometimes have “international areas,” but their offerings are very limited. Additionally, consider visiting some of the Russian supermarkets near Ritan Park. Certain items – in particular Lamb gravy packets – never seem to be available. Bouillon cubes are almost never available.

Q. Where can I find good basketball courts in Chaoyang?

A. The east gate of Chaoyang Park has five or six courts. There’s an indoor court at the Kerry Centre where a lot of expat players gather, but that is a little more expensive. The one in Dongdan, right next to Oriental Plaza Shopping Mall, is a bit cheaper.

Q. Where can I buy ping pong gear and where I can find people with whom to practice?

A. You can buy it online at Taobao or at any sporting goods shop. There are some locals who play ping pong in the afternoon in the residential garden on the east side of Sanlitun Bei Lu. Many local residential compounds have one or two ping pong tables. Just invite your neighbors to play with you. It may be better to play with kids if you are a total beginner.

Yang Xin

About Yang Xin

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Yang Xin is a '90s girl who is obsessed with music, tennis, reading and pretty boys. She hopes her life and career will take her around the world.

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