The next installment of our "Beckoned to Beijing” series features Poh Soon Guan, a Singaporean Dad living in Beijing with his wife, Tng Leng Nah and their children, seven-year-old Kaidon, and five-year-old Kaela. Poh talks about his favorite fruit to pick on Beijing’s outskirts; the aspect of those outlying areas that drive him bananas, and more.
I got a job transfer opportunity to work in Beijing in 2007. I thought it would be great to work and live here through 2008, as Beijing was hosting the Summer Olympic Games.
Beijing has surprised me with its chaotic traffic. And its development is like a bubble – outside the third Ring Road, it is not uncommon to see pockets of slums. The city lacks development planning.
For medical care, we go to Beijing United Family Hospital (BJU). It has a good range of specialist doctors. Plus, it’s close by where we live.
We enrolled our children at Beijing BISS International School. The teacher per student ratio is small. It feels more like a big family. The principle knows all the students by name. Plus, we get some tuition subsidies, because we are Singaporean passport holders.
To protect ourselves from pollution we bought a Blueair purifier. It’s quite affordable.
A big logistical challenge here in Beijing is the lack of access to internet resources like Facebook, and other news media. The selection of medical facilities in Beijing is also quite limited and expensive. And, in Singapore, we just have to boil water from the tap and it’s ready to drink. But in Beijing you have to get bottled water or a good filter system.
Beijing is cold and dry for Singaporeans who have never stayed in a cold country before. The air pollution can also be a big turn off. Get an insurance package to cover you and your family. There is a good range of schools here, but do make sure you get some form of education and health insurance from your company, or your next prospective company, when you negotiate your contract.
The biggest benefit of raising my children in Beijing is that they are widely exposed to Chinese culture and language. There’s plenty of variety in extra curricular activities, such as Japanese language classes, piano lessons, ballet lessons, ice skating on Houhai’s frozen pond, and so on.
If I could bring one aspect of Beijing with me when I leave, it would be the strawberry picking in Shunyi and Changping. I love the great outdoors that are an hour’s drive from downtown. I also love the online shopping like Taobao. Most of all, Beijingers are nice, friendly people.
Photos: Courtesy of Poh Soon Guan