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(Photo: The Great Wall of Chinese Sausages, a World Heritage Site)

Being an LA boy, born and raised, I’m familiar with Chinatown. Exotic, some say strange, smells and aromas, incredible food, “oriental” architecture, and … crazy drivers, crazy pedestrians, crazy Obasans, all seemingly yelling at each other in an incomprehensible, multi-toned language.

Shops selling incense, golden buddha statues, plastic dog poop, and, if you were really lucky, firecrackers, which even then were illegal.

I never actually found one but I always loved to imagine there were opium dens tucked away in the back alleys of LA’s Chinatown.

So moving to Beijing in my middle age is sort of, but not quite, like returning to the Chinatown adventures of my youth.

Beijing is the mother of all Chinatowns.

Crossing the street is a life-changing, potentially life-ending, adventure. Wait patiently for the green light, stay in the clearly marked crosswalk, look both ways … and watch out for the freakin’ bus barreling down on you!

And don’t forget to look both ways — especially the “wrong” way — since maniacs on bikes love to go against traffic, against the light, and through the crosswalks, intent upon nailing this laowai during his first week in Beijing.

Be prepared for an auditory onslaught when you go shopping. Promotion girls/ladies abound in the aisles of the local supermarket, flogging their wares, yelling at the top of their lungs about the freebies you get by buying a case/box/two packages of whatever it is they are selling.

It would help, I suppose, if I understood just what the heck they are yelling about but after a few minutes of this sonic assault on the senses, it feels like my brain is going to dribble out of my ears.

Gee, what’s it going to be like when I start work?

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Sent from my iPad

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