In a city with millions of inhabitants, it’s easy to get lost in the vast numbers and forget that those numbers relate to people. Beijing’s a melting pot of cultures influenced by people from far and near. The Beijing Kaleidoscope series gives you a snippet into the lives of both expats and locals to show their diverse perspective on the city they call home.
The third Beijing resident we’re going to spotlight is another Heilong native Huazi An, owner of a Japanese restaurant on the second floor above the Pingjia Market, Wangjing. She’s lived in Beijing with her son’s family for ten years. Due to the large number of Korean customers coming to her restaurant, she is bilingual speaking both Chinese and Korean. Her views on Beijing contain traces of her business life.
What were your reasons for coming to Beijing? At first it was to accompany my son. I wanted to help him care for his son, take him to school, teach him, and talk to him. Then I decided to open my business here, and make a living.
How would you describe life in Beijing, and how did it influence you? Beijing life is very fast-paced, and there is a lot of pressure. There is also a huge flow of information. But life here is also very simple. You just need to stay strong, be ready for difficulties, and do your best in everything. Also, already at this age, I realized that you can’t look just at one side; you have to look at the broad picture, and consider many things before you set out to do something.
What is the one most important thing you gained from living in Beijing? After living in Beijing for ten years doing business, I realized that after a while, your perspective can only widen. Managing this restaurant and generally doing service business has broadened my outlook, and changed my stance on how I view life. To get through life in Beijing, you just have to be well prepared to try anything, go through anything, and to accept anything. And also try your best.
What does Beijing mean to you? It helped me realize the important truths of life, and it provided me with a home. I guess I was meant to come to Beijing sooner or later.
Beijing is a place that dreams become reality.
Although An is currently 57 years old, a lot of her ah-ha moments took place in the last ten years in Beijing. Her thoughts show that one’s outlook changes with time, and solidifies with life. Despite the fast changes taking place, the truths of life in Beijing will probably stay constant for those who constantly keep out a wise eye.
Judy Jeon, our July intern, attends the Western Academy of Beijing and decided to brave the murky waters of magazine writing. She is a writer in her school’s Roots & Shoots organization, and also leads an orchestra. With less than a year left to stay in Beijing, Judy is setting out to gather different views about the place. She likes to read, hang out with friends, and can be found exploring Chinese culture around the hutongs.
Photos: Judy Jeon