BNU's New Dormitory For Foreign Students (24 December)

    As part of its hundredth-year celebration and renovation, Beijing Normal University built a new dormitory for foreign students, called the "Apartotel." It appeared to have been just finished when I arrived, but I suspect it had been open for the fall semester of 2003. I was able to have a two-room suite to myself, and it was very pleasant. Here are some pictures taken on the morning of December 24th, after my first night's sleep there. Comments are found below the photo that they refer to, as they are throughout this photo show.

    This is the lobby of the Apartotel. Note the female guard on the left, next to the entrance to the elevators leading up to the rooms. She was very efficient most of the time. I didn't see why my guests had to sign in, but it's the Chinese way, so we went along.
    On the right is the coffee-shop-to-be. They were working very hard to get it ready for New Year's Eve, and they succeeded. But all the painting and staining required them to keep the front door wide open, which kept the lobby at the outside temperature, which was usually at or below the freezing point. That didn't seem to bother anybody, however. Tough Chinese!

A better picture of the guard. Note all the Christmas decorations, including Santa and a Christmas tree. Although Christmas is not a Chinese holiday, its trappings are gaining a foothold. This is being promoted by the merchants. Special Christmas dinners are also becoming popular.

A view through the front doors.

    Working feverishly on the coffee shop. Work started early and ran until nearly midnight each day. That meant that the lobby was always freezing! Near the end, a sign appeared overhead saying "Twelve Oaks Caffe." I noted to my friends that it appeared that someone couldn't decide between Coffee and Cafe, and so split the difference. Someone in authority must have noticed, too, because when I passed through again at the end of January it read "Twelve Oaks Coffee."

The main entrance. Here you see the traditional lions guarding the place, a bunch of bicycles, and some of the many cars that are beginning to clog Beijing's roads. On the right is the little market that offers snacks and other convenience items to the students. Notice how solidly built the place is. I was very impressed.

A view to the north along the front of the hotel. The pedestrian walkway keeps people from being killed while crossing the street. Beijing drivers do not yield to pedestrians (or to bicycles or other vehicles, for that matter).

Right next to the lobby is a McDonald's. I don't know what the inside looked like because I didn't venture in! (But I later gave in to one at the Hong Kong University of Science And Technology, where it was the best choice for late eating.)

The Apartotel after dark.

The street in front of the hotel after dark.

The view directly across the street. The place with the greet sign is a pizza buffet. Jinghua and I ate there on the 25th of January.

Back to Beijing Dec 03–Jan 04