Old and new 北京的旧与新


Living in Beijing presents an interesting juxtaposition of “Old & New”. The history of this centuries old Chinese capital is on constant display with structures like the Forbidden City and Tian’anmen Square. The metropolis is also replete with many new modern structures like the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube, which were staples of the past Olympic Games.


This theory of “Old & New” is also on display within the bar scene. You have no idea how many times I am supposed to meet a group of friends at an establishment when someone asks “Which one, the old or new one?” Sometimes when we visit a bar, friends will reminisce about the previous existence of the place and opine “Remember the old <insert name here>?”

Most of the repetitive places are usually within the same vicinity. During my first trip to Beijing in November ’07 I ran across a franchise that had three enterprises – right beside each other. I just assumed bars had to be named Pure Girl – what other explanation is there to see Pure Girl Bar, Pure Girl 2 and naturally Pure Girl 3 all in succession.

I don’t know where the lack of creativity with bar names came from, because Chinese people are extremely creative.

The best example of Chinese creativity came during the Olympic Games. The pageantry was like nothing seen before. (Despite, not all of the fireworks being real – some of the performers weren’t real either) At one point they had an athlete – Li Ning – suspended from a wire and lit the Olympic torch.

Li Ning was a Chinese Olympic medalist, but I have to question his creativity also. His shoe brand “Li Ning”, the logo bares a strong resemblance to Nike. Their motto “Anything is Possible” seems like a very cheap rip-off of Adidas’ “Impossible is Nothing”

Li Ning is not even the worst offender of lacking creativity when it comes to shoe ideas. Another company has basically taken an upside down Nike logo as its symbol. I can’t remember the name of the brand, and every time I try to “Google” the answer my internet crashes. Internet service provider you’re not fooling anyone.

For the people not living in Beijing I will mention a few of the old and new bars.

The Purple Haze – Really good Thai food and apparently at one time had another “old” new place.

The Goose and Duck – Has been slipping lately. The new one doesn’t hold a candle to the original so I’m told. You can still see the carcass of the old Goose and Duck, which has yet to be destroyed.

Luga’s – Good place to get cheap drinks and Mexican food, I believe I have been served fake alcohol here, so I try not to go that often.

Nanjie – Another place for cheap drinks, never went to the old Nanjie, like most things here apparently the old one was better.

Maggie’s – This has apparently had five or six incarnations. This is a good place to get hot dogs and umm, meet women who like hot dogs, for a nominal fee of course.

The old and new places remind me of the Y2K episode of “Family Guy” when they need to rebuild Quahog. As they discuss how New Quahog will look, Chris mentions the new city will have two Denny’s so they can say “Let’s not go to that one, let’s go to the good one.”

And I’m sure I have missed some, and unaware of others.

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