Awful pollution like this weekend’s always puts me in a bad mood. So here’s a little bit of nitpicking for you, or TiāoMáoBìng (挑毛病 literally: ‘picking at feathers sickness’).

Much like Goldilocks’ porridge, some things in China are not quite right.

The public toilets are plentiful but they never have soap or toilet paper; the socialism is in your face but I can never tell where the Chinese characteristics end and it begins; a cup of coffee costs me the same as a 40 minute taxi ride (that’s fine with me, actually); daily life relies heavily on the internet but the wifi is some of the patchiest and slowest I’ve ever seen.


Most fruits in Beijing come in miniature which more than makes up for all the above issues.

These ‘granulated sugar tangerines’ (沙糖桔子 ShāTáng JúZi) are the size of large grapes (large grapes, I say! Amazing!) and have popped up everywhere over the last week. I love running my hands through piles of them, they’re just too cute and I’m just too easily amused.

On that note, I’ve noticed that all my favourite foods here are orange (get in on the persimmon and sweet potato hype).

I have a very scientific theory that it’s because my air pollution app turns orange to indicate ‘moderate pollution’. Moderate pollution/the colour orange always puts me in a good mood because it’s not bad enough to have congealed into the infamous Beijing smog-soup, making it easier to ignore and get on with life without worrying about what kind of substances might be throwing a carcinogenic party in your lungs. Red (lock up the kids and throw away the key) on my pollution app makes me sad and green (what does green look like again?) is too much to ask for. So no steak or salad for me. Bring on the tangerines.


‘Tis but a mist. Nothing but a mist. A romantic mist. Completely natural. Not poisonous. Definitely not poisonous. When Keats wrote ‘To Autumn’, he was probably thinking of Beijing’s ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’. Thank you, Keats.



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