Stumbling Upon A Cultural Hub In Beijing

Seeing people come together in this general area made Beijing seem like a wholesome community.


Anticipating some shopping at the flea market, a group of friends and I boarded the subway station and headed to the Beijing Zoo stop. We stepped off the subway and found the market, only to find that the stalls were all closing. We left disappointed, not expecting our night to end in a spectacular fashion

Instead of taking the subway back to our hotel, we chose to walk around an unfamiliar section of the city. We wanted to look for a place to eat. We walked by a large, nearly empty plaza. If it wasn’t for the gigantic building at the end of the square, we would have paid no attention to it. Our group eventually found an alleyway and ate street food.

The sun had set when we had finished eating, and it was time to head back home. We backtracked to the subway station and passed by the same plaza from earlier. Only now, the place was no longer nearly empty. We succumbed to curiosity and walked into the square.


Thousands of people were broken off into dozens of groups, all participating in various activities. Many couples were engaged in ballroom dancing in one corner. In another corner were elderly folks practicing the art of Tai Chi. Kids and teenagers roller-skated around in circles. Several people flew kites that were hundreds of feet in the air, while a large group huddled around some musicians. A portable karaoke machine was available for those who dared to sing in public. After watching a few teenagers express themselves vocally, a friend and I sang and danced to an English song. A crowd gathered around and even gave us an encore when we finished!

I found out that evening that neither glamorous city lights nor snowcapped mountain peaks are necessary components for fond memories. Witnessing a cultural event was just as glorious, for I had never seen plazas of this magnitude in the United States. Seeing people come together in this general area made the entire city seem like a wholesome community, and those values are to be admired.

Andy Cheng

He was born and raised in Orange County, southern California. He graduated from UC Berkeley, studying political science with a concentration in international relations. In his free time, Andy frequents exercising, spectating eSports, meeting new people, and learning new things.

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