Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The nicest apartment in Beijing?

Well, I think so.

It's not as swank as some, but it is very spacious, and has an extremely enviable location.

I'm just outside the North 2nd Ringroad, adjacent to the Shichahai district - one of the last parts of the city centre where a substantial amount of the traditional hutong-style low-rise housing still survives. I'm close to a subway station and some useful major bus routes (27, going west to the Zoo; 60, going south to the Wangfujing shopping district and the Temple of Heaven), only about a 15-minute walk to the historic landmarks of the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower, and the attractive Houhai lakes area, and not very much further from Nanluoguxiang, these days one of the nicest bar and shopping streets in the city, and some very good live music venues (MAO Live House for rock'n'roll, East Shore for jazz, and some others too).

What's more, I am more or less mid-way between The Forbidden City (about a 40-minute walk due south), and the Bird's Nest Stadium (just a bit further away, north and east).

I have a large, L-shaped dining/living room, two large bedrooms (the second with an ensuite shower/bath), a further shower room/toilet/utility room, a modestly well-equipped kitchen (toaster, microwave, mini-oven, blender, coffee-maker, two-ring gas stove, extractor hood, large fridge/freezer), and a study which can serve as an additional bedroom (there are a couple of sofa-beds in the living room too). And a rather nice enclosed balcony which overlooks a small park. Nearly 1,500 sq ft in all. Air conditioning in all the main rooms.

It's on the top floor of a quiet, clean, fairly modern building. No elevator, but it's only 6 storeys. It is 'Chinese housing', so the level of decoration and equipment isn't quite what you'd hope for in a Western-style apartment, but it's perfectly comfortable.

I have a broadband Internet connection, and I am contemplating getting an international satellite TV hook-up.

An ideal place to spend the summer in Beijing! Is anyone still thinking of coming to the Olympics? Do you need a place to stay?

Drop me a line. I am looking to sublet for a while.

Update: Well, of course, no-one took me up on this offer. Just about no-one came to the Beijing Olympics from overseas. I wasn't really all that surprised.

And my rosy view of this apartment deteriorated rapidly over the next 18 months - mainly because of my landlord, who was a prize arsehole (even by the standards of Beijing landlords). Although the place was spacious and well-located, the standard of decorations and equipment was not so good.... and kept getting worse.... and the bloody landlord could never be persuaded to do anything about it. The wiring was unsafe: most of the light-fittings blew so regularly, or worked so intermittently, that I gave up replacing the bulbs, and - by the end of my time there - I was living in virtual darkness. There was no effective hot-water supply in the en suite bathroom. The (crudely stuck-on) ceiling in the kitchen collapsed. The traffic noise from the nearby 2nd Ringroad had developed into a serious, sleep-threatening irritation (there had been a huge increase in the traffic volume in the 5 years I was living there). And the place suffered its own internal noise pollution problem during the winter months, with the central heating system producing a continuous tap-tap-tap in the hot-water pipes. The final straw was that, immediately after the Olympics, the picturesque little park outside my window was transformed into a construction site. For a few months, the noise was frightful, and sleep was often impossible. Then, the work was abandoned for a long period, and then only half-heartedly (mercifully quietly) resumed: so, the park was - for an indefinite period of time - turned into an eyesore. And then my idiot landlord tried to ramp up the rent..... and I escaped.... to a smaller, but in most ways much nicer apartment (everything works, more or less) only a short distance away.


Anonymous said...

Haha. I like that post. I kept wondering where you were going with it. 'Til the big reveal, of course.

But... it freaks me out a little to see where The Froog lives. I don't know why. You are a real, living, breathing person who needs things like food and shelter? Not just beer and internet? Hmm...

Froog said...

Well, yes, but my 'food & shelter' requirements are very minimal. If Luke would just let me sleep under the pool table at the Pool Bar, as I keep asking him to, I could let the apartment go.

Anonymous said...

It is a swanky apartment. Niels & I feel like the country bumpkins visiting our rich cousin when we visit! LOL Seriously, it's an awesome apartment in an equally awesome neighborhood. I love the market around the corner, they've good breakfast foods.

The British Cowboy said...

I am sending an email round at work seeing if anyone is interested...

NEGIN the artist side of me said...

so have you managed to let the appartment yet? funny how I thought the same as OMG, that Froog only lived on beer and some chinese food out and about (not very often though)