Learning Chinese in Beijing? – Top tips on renting a flat – Part 3 – Preparing to leave

Learning Chinese in Beijing? – Top tips on renting a flat – Part 3 – Preparing to leave

(This is the third blog post on renting a flat. Click here for the first and second posts.)

“Why do I need to prepare to leave? But I’ve only just moved in…!”

No, I’m not confused, it actually is important to think right at the start about how you do things to ensure that your leaving process is as smooth as possible. This post came about after one of our former students told us about some of their experiences of moving away from their apartment and some of the things they wished they had known in advance!

View from Huaqingjiayuan flat in Wudaokou

Wudaokou from a Huaqingjiayuan flat.
Road noise can be an issue if your flat doesn’t have good double glazing

Drinking water

Most people arrange to have big bottles of water delivered to use with their water machine. When you first get one of these you will have to pay a deposit (probably 50RMB). You need to make sure that you keep the original receipt for this deposit, because if you don’t, when you come to leave, you won’t get your deposit back! (For further ahead; although they will deliver water, when it comes to leaving, you may need to take the bottle back to them yourself, so be sure to get their address.)

Bottled water - you don't want to drink the tap water

Unless you bring out a filter system for your tap water you will need to buy bottled water for your flat


I mentioned this in the last post, but you should keep your receipts for gas/electric and water, so that you can prove to the landlord/agent how much you have paid.


If you don’t already have one, getting a receipt for your deposit is a good idea so you can be sure to get back what is due. Ensuring there is a good inventory of the apartment, including a note of the overall state of the apartment, is also a good thing to do as soon when you move in. (A good rental agency should in theory have already helped you with this…) Now is also a good time to double check your contract to see if there are any ‘hidden’ clauses such as paying a tax for garbage disposal or other fees you haven’t thought of (which your landlord may try to impose on you when you leave). In theory you will have already checked this type of thing out before you sign the contract, but realistically, in the stress of getting everything done, some things may easily be missed. Local friends can be a great source for helping you understand some of the finer subtleties that us foreigners might miss! Finally, if there is nothing in the contract about extra fees being your responsibility, have made a good inventory, and you have a receipt for your deposit, and then as long as you leave the apartment in good shape you should be able to get your whole deposit back! Enjoy your stay in this great country!

One other thing to remember is that China generally deals in cash, so you need to get used to withdrawing and handling large bundles of cash.

One other thing to remember is that China generally deals in cash, so you need to get used to withdrawing and handling large bundles of cash.

Problem Capsule in China

Right now, one of the biggest news here in China is about Problem Capsule – 问题胶囊 (wèn tí jiāo nánɡ )which was being discovered recently. The problem is about corporate use of industrial gelatin production of hollow capsules. Here is one of most recent news video report on Problem Capsule:


If you are in China or coming in China soon, here are some Capsules found as Problem Capsule – 问题胶囊 (wèn tí jiāo nánɡ ), please try not to take them or take your own necessary medication with you from your own Country.


脑康泰胶囊 – (nǎo kānɡ tài jiāo nánɡ);
愈伤灵胶囊 – (yù shānɡ línɡ jiāo nánɡ );
盆炎净胶囊 – (pén yán jìnɡ jiāo nánɡ );
苍耳子鼻炎胶囊 – (cānɡ ěr zǐ bí yán jiāo nánɡ );
通便灵胶囊 – (tōnɡ biàn línɡ jiāo nánɡ );
炎立消胶囊 – (yán lì xiāo jiāo nánɡ )
人工牛黄硝唑胶囊 – (rén ɡōnɡ niú huánɡ xiāo zuò jiāo nánɡ )
阿莫西林胶囊 – (ā mò xī lín jiāo nánɡ ) - unfortunately I took some a few weeks before. :cry:
诺氟沙星胶囊 – (nuò fú shā xīnɡ jiāo nánɡ );
羚羊感冒胶囊 – (línɡ yánɡ ɡǎn mào jiāo nánɡ )
抗病毒胶囊 – (kànɡ bìnɡ dú jiāo nánɡ );
清热通淋胶囊 – (qīnɡ rè tōnɡ lín jiāo nánɡ );
胃康灵胶囊 – (wèi kānɡ línɡ jiāo nánɡ )
Have you ever thought you would put your life in such risk when you come to China?

Breathing in Beijing: Air Pollution in Beijing – Fact or Fiction?

A few days ago, I received a newsletter email from Beijing United Hospital which talked about some facts and fictions about air pollution in Beijing, since it’s a hot topic which everybody’s been talking or caring about, specially, those who are living in Beijing or planning to visit Beijing, I thought it would be good to repost it below.—–

Air pollution ( 空气污染 – kōnɡ qì wū rǎn ) ​is an unfortunate reality for all of us in China as only 1% of all cities meet the World Health Organization’s guidelines for healthy air. Beijing’s air is particularly notorious (and is worse than Shanghai or Guangzhou), but Beijing actually isn’t near the top 10 of the world’s most polluted cities. This fact shows that air pollution, far from just a China problem, is all too common in most developing countries, especially India.

Recently, the Chinese press greatly expanded their coverage of air pollution. However, there are still quite a few myths and misperceptions about air pollution, which I would like to attempt to clarify below. My ultimate goal is to provide the evidence so that we can make healthcare decisions based on facts, not fiction.

Fact or Fiction: A day of breathing Beijing air is like smoking a pack of cigarettes.

This is fiction. I often hear apocalyptic statements about air pollution, especially the idea that breathing Beijing’s air is like smoking a pack a day. This statement is a bit extreme. I did my own data analysis and found that the total amount of small air particles (PM2.5) we breathe each day is far less than one pack. In fact, it is only 1/6 of one cigarette. This amount of exposure is about the same as secondhand smoke. That finding surprised me, but I think the larger message is that any amount of smoking, even “light” smoking, is far more serious and lethal than living in the heaviest pollution in the world. From this perspective, perhaps Chinese public health would benefit more from drastically reducing smoking rates than from focusing on expensive industrial fixes to lower ambient pollution.

Fact or Fiction: Living long-term in polluted cities shortens life expectancy​.

This is fact, but with many caveats. Living in any city with high air pollution does reduce life expectancy, but every city in the world affects your health in good and bad ways. Living long -term (more than six years) in a city with air similar to Beijing gives you a 32-49% increased risk of pollution-related death than living in a city that has perfectly clean air. It’s important to consider the risk in the context of compare this risk to other cities. For example, residents of Los Angeles have a 16% greater risk, while citizens of Paris and San Francisco have a 20% and 13% greater risk, respectively.

Fact or Fiction: Children’s lungs are more vulnerable to air pollution.

This is an unfortunate fact. The better studies, especially a few from Los Angeles school systems, have shown air pollution can cause small but permanent lung damage to a growing child’s lungs. This is actually my main concern here in China, and I hope all parents take this risk seriously and reduce their children’s risks as much as much as possible, especially ​by buying a good HEPA-certified (HEPA = high-efficiency particulate air) air purifier for their child’s bedroom. These filters, when used in small rooms with the doors closed, can filter up to 99 percent of air particles. I also feel that all school systems should have an air pollution action plan, which limits outdoor activities depending on the hourly Air Quality Index.

Fact or Fiction: Air purifiers are effective in reducing your exposure.

This is a fact, and that’s good news for those of us who feel helpless about air pollution. We tend to focus on the outdoor air quality, but don’t forget that we all spend about 90% of our lives indoors. Indoor air pollution is likely to be about 50-80% of outdoor levels. So while you may feel helpless about air pollution, you still have control over 90% of your exposure. That control mostly involves good quality indoor air purifier systems, whether stand-alone or built into your central HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning). I consider air purifiers a wise investment. These HEPA filters are rated to filter out more than 99% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns, which covers not only the most dangerous particles but also viruses, bacteria and many dangerous indoor chemicals. I’ve done some real-world testing on a few of the most popular brands and found that all models were extremely efficient in small rooms with doors closed, removing 95-99% of all particles. That means that even on “crazy bad” nights, your bedroom will be a safe oasis. Simply running a good purifier at night automatically decreases your lifetime exposure to pollution by one-third — in any city you live in.​​

To summarize, I’ve lived in Beijing for more than five years practicing Family Medicine, and while I do take air pollution seriously, I feel that my quality of life and overall health are very high here in China. Don’t panic. Acknowledge the facts. And be smart about air pollution.

To give the credit to Beijing United Hospital and Dr.Saint Cyr who wrote this post, here is the original post: http://beijing.ufh.com.cn/en/health-information/health-line/68/Breathing/


Tips on How To Prepare For a Beijing Winter

Image from: http://www.snapshotjourneys.com/

As the cold winter weather begins to set in on Beijing, we’d like to give all of you newcomers some tips on how to prepare for and survive the bitter cold weather that we get here. The winter season in Beijing is long and arduous, and temperatures start to drop from the beginning of November, and only begin to warm up towards the end of March. It’s important to be well prepared from the outset of the cold season though, since the heating system doesn’t usually kick-in until the 15th of November in Beijing, but nonetheless temperatures can begin to drop to 0° Celsius in the evenings before heating gets switched on.

The temperature averaged -7° Celsius in December last year, and -9° Celsius in January, but this doesn’t take into account the wind chill factor, which can drop the temperature several more degrees. The weather here is not only cold, but also very dry, and chapped lips and dry itchy skin can also cause those with sensitive skin a lot of irritation, so it’s important to use some moisturizer and chap-stick to alleviate the irritation.

With all that said, here are some tips that will hopefully help you prepare for the winter season in Beijing:

Layering is important.

Wear base-layer thermal underwear, an insulating layer such as a hoodie, or fleece jacket, and then also an outer layer that will help to break the wind. Layering is also important because you can quickly run into situations where you go indoors and if you’re too hot, you can just take off your outer layer, but not expose yourself too much to risk catching a cold.


Drink lots of water, use moisturizer lotion, and also chap-stick.

It’s not only important to use external lotions, but staying hydrated in the dry Beijing winter also helps your skin to stay moisturized.







Neck and head protection.

Getting a scarf or a neck gaiter can not only help to keep the wind out of your jacket, but getting a beanie or hat can help to keep you warmer than you think, as about 20% of heat loss is from your head alone[1]. You can pick up a neck gaiter on TaoBao.






Despite the discomfort that the winter season brings, there’s a lot to do around Beijing during this time, there are skiing and snowboarding resorts not too far from the Beijing city, ice skating on several of Beijing’s lakes, and the Olympic park and water-cube is transformed into a winter snow park. Winter activities and recommendations will be another post though.

If you have any of your own winter preparation tips on how to stay warm in Beijing, please do share them with us!

1. Bookspan, Jolie. Healthline. http://www.healthline.com/blogs/exercise_fitness/2009/03/do-you-lose-most-of-your-heat-through.html


功夫梦 – The Karate Kid Streaming Online

For those who have yet to watch the latest 2010 remake of the 1984 “The Karate Kid”, you can stream it for free through QiYi.com (奇艺 qi2yi4); though I feel that the movie title should be changed to “The Kung Fu Kid”, since the Chinese title of the movie is 功夫梦  (gong1fu meng4 – aka: dreaming of Kung Fu), and the martial art in the movie is no longer the Japanese Karate, but the Chinese Kung Fu- but that’s just me =)

I hadn’t heard of QiYi before, so I did a bit of research, and I found out that the difference between qiyi.com and other mainland online streaming video services, such as tudou.com and youku.com, is that QiYi aims to gather all of its video content through legal means through several copyright intermediary sources. This also allows QiYi to obtain higher quality and resolution videos, which is pretty nice if you’re wanting to project a movie on a screen to watch with friends.

Here’s the direct link to The Karate Kid on QiYi.com

By the way, if you are those who would like to learn Chinese by watching movies, I’d recommend a product launched recently, it’s great option for those who wanted to learn Chinese in a casual and fun way.

How to Deal With Traveler’s Diarrhea in Beijing

upset-stomach-beijingHopefully this subject won’t be too uncomfortable of a read, but traveler’s diarrhea (拉肚子la1du4zi0) is a real issue that many of our students at 1on1Mandarin have experienced on arrival to China, and it even affects permanent expat residents in China every now and then- though perhaps you might want to save this read for a time when you’re not eating or snacking on something.

Traveler’s diarrhea is usually caused by eating unclean food or water, though normal diarrhea can also be caused by anxiety, stress, allergies, fatigue, and changes in diet- all of which are things that a new visitor to Beijing will encounter as they adjust to this densely populated city, and experience the culture shock of adjusting.


The symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea are four to five loose or watery stools per day, though vomiting can also be a symptom. Traveler’s diarrhea usually lasts 3 or 4 days, and only a few cases does it last longer; in some rare cases, it can last more than 3 months.


pepto-bismolTwo of the popular drugs that many travelers take are bismuth subsalicylate (which is found in Pepto-Bismol), and Imodium. Taking Pepto-Bismol tablets before travel, and during travel, can help to prevent many cases of diarrhea, though some travelers like to carry the liquid form with them and take a dose before a meal (I would recommend that you read the CDC site for Traveler’s Diarrhea on recommended usage though). Imodium can also be taken to provide quick relief by reducing the muscle spasms in the gastrointestinal tract.

Unfortunately, Pepto-Bismol is not easy to come by in Beijing, and is only sold by some of the international clinics and hospitals in the city. Imodium, however, is more commonly found among the pharmacies, clinics, and hospitals. It’s best to prepare well, and bring some from your home country before arriving in Beijing, to avoid having to search around the city when you need it the most.

If you’re really having trouble finding these drugs in the city, you may find some willing and helpful incoming expats on the forums thebeijinger and Chinese-forums.com that are may offer a helping hand to bring some extra in with them, provided you pay them back, of course.

Finally, don’t forget to rehydrate if you’re experiencing traveler’s diarrhea. Dehydration is very common result of the fluid loss, and a useful recipe for fluid replacement is:

Two glasses of fluid: the first glass containing 8 oz. of fruit juice, 1/2 tsp. of honey or corn syrup, and a pinch of salt, and the second glass filled with 8 oz. of purified or carbonated water and 1/4 tsp. of baking soda, and the traveler should drink alternately from each glass until their thirst is quenched.

For additional reading on traveler’s diarrhea:

Wikipedia: Traveler’s Diarrhea

Center for Disease Control: Traveler’s Diarrhea

University of Maryland- Medical Center: Traveler’s Diarrhea

Do you have any tips or advice? Let us know in the comments!