In order to get a good sense of our apartment life in Beijing, you first need to know a bit about the city and the location of our apartment.
As some of you may already know, Beijing is organized around a series of “ring roads,” which form concentric circles around the center city. Our apartment is situated between the 4th and 5th ring roads in the northwestern quadrant of the city, which is called Hai Dian Qu. For those of you who are landmark people, that means we are about a 1-hour subway journey to the northwest of the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
This next picture serves as a good metaphor for the city. Envision Beijing as the puddle, Tiananmen Square as the center, and the ripples as the “ring roads”.
Here is a real map, on which I have marked a number of landmarks that are important to us. I’ve included Tian’s work, my work, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and some of the ring roads.
For us the location of our apartment is great for several reasons:
- Proximity to Work
We both work on the western end of the Tsinghua University campus, about five minutes walk from each other. Our apartment is only a 10-minute bus ride from our school buildings. Interestingly enough our apartment is only about two blocks south of the eastern gate of the Tsinhua campus, but because the campus is so big, it’s more practical to take the bus to the western side where we teach.
- Proximity to Subway
The subway is a key artery to traveling around Beijing as a whole. The closer you are to a station, the closer you are to everything else the city has to offer. That said, it’s preferable not to need to ride the subway every day to and from work because it is so crowded and more expensive than the buses. That’s why we are excited that we can take the bus to work daily but still be only two blocks away from the subway station. This will make it easier for friends to visit and to do quick evening excursions around Beijing.
- Lively Neighborhood
Both of us like the fact that our apartment is basically 10 stories above a vibrant commercial district. This means that there are a lot of options for restaurants, two grocery stores within walking distance, plenty of shops for basic necessities, and more that we have yet to discover.