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.
Q. I am looking for a place to play volleyball. Indoor or beach volleyball is fine. Of course, it’s best if I can play with other people. I was hoping you could give me some recommendations.
A. Shichahai Sport School is a good place to play indoor volleyball. It’s near Houhai and the cost is acceptable, but you will need to book in advance. It also has a decent volleyball league.
If you want to play beach volleyball, Chaoyang Park would be a good choice. Some universities like Beijing Foreign Studies University also have outdoor volleyball courts, but no beach.
Q. I was recently offered a job by ChinaESL, but the company said it cannot give me a work visa until I come to Beijing and sign a formal contract. Is this normal? I really do not want to go to Beijing with my tourist visa and get stranded without a job or a work visa.
A. It’s quite normal. More than 90 percent of the schools give you a work visa only after meeting you and signing a contract. Some foreigners come with an invitation letter, but they often don’t take the school’s job offer or even show up for the interview. ChinaESL has a good reputation in Beijing, so it is probably trustworthy.
Q. My friend and I are planning to go shopping at Yashow or Silk Market. We know we can bargain there but just have no idea how much we can get the price down. Can anyone tell us how much the products usually are?
A. Expect to pay 2 to 4 yuan for socks; 40 to 60 yuan for sport shoes; 50 to 150 yuan for dress shoes; 20 to 30 yuan for shirts; 35 to 80 yuan for pants, 3 to 5 yuan for underwear; 20 to 30 yuan for belts; 10 to 50 yuan for wallets; 8 to 25 yuan for hats; and 10 to 20 yuan for gloves.
Q. Can you recommend some decent places that serve traditional Chinese food and local people go?
A. Everyone knows Quanjude and Bianyifang are famous for Peking duck, but if you’re looking for something less touristy, try Baikuilao or Huntunhou, a wanton eatery with many outlets in the city.
Chinese food can be further classified into different regional cuisines. You will find all kinds of restaurants that focus on different cuisines – the only question is how to choose and that’s up to you.
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Q. I moved to Beijing for work and I know few people here. I sometimes want to go out to have a drink when I am tired of reading books or watching DVDs, but my Chinese colleagues told me only playboys and easy women cruise the bar scene. I just want to meet some nice people and talk in my native language. What’s the drinking culture like in Beijing, and what places are good and popular with foreigners?
A. The drinking culture in Beijing has developed rapidly over the last eight years or so, and despite what your Chinese colleagues tell you, there are many great choices that are perfectly fine to visit alone.
It’s probably best to avoid the main street in Sanlitun, which can get rowdy on weekends, but Nali Patio and The Village have plenty of great bars and restaurants where lots of foreigners congregate. You can also try Nanluogu Xiang, a very popular alley for tourists and locals.