Except amazing culture, glorious history and rich customs biggest wealth of China are its friendly people. Since I am mostly experienced with Beijing I can speak about that. Here I wont speak about friends and people that I know for many years but about random friendly people that I have met on streets of Beijing who were very pleasant , friendly and helpful. Between 1996 and 2001 and during my trips in 2013 and 2015 I have met a lot of random friendly people in Beijing with who it was pleasure to speak and learn something new.
Man and Ice Cream
It was 1996 and I was les than 4 years old. It was one of my first encounters with friendliness of Chinese people. My father has left me in front of one grocery store in Sanlitun. He did that for a reason to prevent me from doing mischiefs in a shop as I use to throw peppers and tomatoes on the floor. But I wasn’t calm. While he was shopping I was looking around and trying to find something interesting. I was one older man sitting next to shop and eating light green ice cream. I started starring at him and he smiled to me. He took out ice cream from his mouth where he had only 2 teeth and pointed ice cream towards me so I could lick a bit too. Then we were sharing ice cream, 1 lick he 1 lick me. But my father has appeared and got scared so much seeing me eating ice cream with unknown people. He has taken my hand and took me away angrily form man with ice cream.
He was one of my favorite people in our neighborhood. That old had small shop nearby PLA Hospital behind Sanlitun Diplomatic Compound. He seemed quite old according to his face, but smile was always on his face. Whenever I would come there he was so happy to see me and warmly offered mi catalogue to choose new Pokemon toy or set of cards. He isn’t probably alive anymore but I will always remember him.
Old man and juice in hose
He had small and modest grocery store nearby PLA Hospital. They were my second favorite juices during my life here ( first was plum juice). I liked these strange “juices in hose” because of untypical shape, color, too sweet taste and all this together. Long time ago one old man who worked in this shop was always smiling when he saw me and my mother knowing that we will buy one of these juices. He was surprised and happy when foreign boy was buying one of cheapest products. Always when we entered shop his smile was spread from ear to ear and he took immediately few “sok u crevu” and showed them in front of me, letting me to choose one. Unfortunately I didn’t saw my “sok u crevu” neither its seller when I was there in 2013 and 2015. Probably production of such juice is abandoned now in China or now it is filled into bottles. Who knows where is now that old seller who I still remember. Maybe his working time for today finished, maybe he went to another shop to work, maybe he is retired or maybe he is not anymore among alive people as he was quite old even in 2001.
Old lady with golden teeth
Old lady with golden teeth and her old husband are definitely among first Chinese people that I have met. During my life in China we used to change money at their small shop at Sanlitun. Their shop was not so clean and they were modest, but their friendliness and hospitality was warm as Beijing summer sun. Whenever we were coming there they greeted us and always offered me to eat some rice or some cake. Once they gave me an old figure of Chinese small girl dressed in traditional clothes. I still keep it and I am wondering how old it is and who used to play with it in past.
Although we didn’t meet randomly but she is definitely worth mentioning. She was our maid and babysitter in Beijing. She was kind woman about 50 years old in 2000. Most of the time she was smiling. She was always cleaning and helping around my little brother. She used to feed him when parents were away. Li Shu would often bring some bao zi. She was always friendly and I used to play with her with my airplane models or other toys. We used even to play football and run across all flat for a ball.
Friendly man at Beigongmen
It has happened during my family trip in Beijing in June 2013. We got out of subway at Beigongmen station near Summer Palace. We were trying to find out where to pick up bus to Xiangshan. Suddenly 1 man in his 50ies appeared and asked with quite good English whether we need help. He gave us directions and asked where we are from. He smiled when he heard that we are from Serbia. His first associations were” Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Tito very good, NATO aggression, Kosovo”. He didn’t seem on first view that his English is not so bad. We exchanged few words with him.
Old couple near Nanluoguxiang
June 2013, me and one of my best friends Xin from Shandong province were walking around Beijing hutongs and chilling next to Shichihai lake. I suddenly have realized that I need to pay a bit more credit on my mobile card. We were searching a shop near Nanluoguxiang in one of hutong streets. We have found one small shop which was selling refreshing drinks, snacks and beer. There was an old couple which looked very cheerful especially old man. He was sitting on a small wooden chair in front of shop enjoying in his ergotou. There were several small empty bottles of cheap ergotou on small table. It seems that old man with cheerful red face had very interesting afternoon. He was speaking something in Chinese to me but I didn’t have a clue what he was trying to say.
Doorman at Sanlitun Inn
It was Summer 2015 when was staying at Sanlitun Inn in Beijing. One of the best people that I have met during that time was definitely its friendly doorman who was between 50 and 60 years old. Every morning he was happily smiling and telling me Ni Hao before he would open the door. Each evening or night that I was returning to hotel he would greet me with large smile and tell again Ni Hao. Whenever I have replied him in Chinese he would be even more happy. Last morning he held my bags and took them to taxi and afterwards opened door for me of the car. We shook hands very warmly and friendlily before I have left.
Singer at Beihai Park
It was very hot and sunny Beijing afternoon in 2015. I was walking in one of the favorite and most popular parks in Beijing. In morning and evening many people come here to practice Tai Chi, sing, dance, play traditional instruments or just socialize and spend time among trees and next to lake. I was walking on stone path among trees and more and more was hearable loud singing voice. I was following direction of song have found its source finally. It was in one pavilion. 1 woman and 2 teenagers were sitting and listening to one man. He was dressed in black, had sunglasses and microphone. That funny man was singing very loudly and from bottom of the heart, in harmony with birds who were singing from surrounding pines and willows. I have joined his listeners and I sat with them. I have silently said Ni Hao and for whole 30 mins I was completely silent in order to not interrupt joy of this man.
Nice girl Beihai Park
It was same afternoon as in a story above. Now I was in temple at the island in Beihai park. After listening to sounds of bell produced by Buddhist monk I was wandering around. There was 1 stand where beautiful girl was selling souvenirs. She was wearing long traditional white dress. She had long black hair and her face was so pure like porcelain and her smile like white lotus. As soon as I have approached her stand she said cheerfully like a small wind Hello, I can give you something for cheaper price. And I have really bought there few souvenirs for very low price.
Father and son Beigongmen
It was afternoon in June 2015. I was drinking Fanta and having rest after a long and exciting day at Xiangshan. Suddenly I have felt someone touching my shoulder from back. I turned back and saw father and son. Boy was about 6 or 7 years old. They were both smiling and seemed very happy. In not so perfect English father asked me to take pictures with them. After making a selfie we said goodbye. I think that they were from some remote village and wanted to take a picture with foreigner since foreigners are not frequent visitors of distant places.
Cool guy in KFC
It was evening at Wangfujing street, June 2015. I was waiting in row to order my meal for dinner in KFC. Lady who was working didn’t speak good English and I couldn’t explain to her what I wanted to order. Suddenly I have heard a question from behind in English whether I need help. It was a guy older few years than me. Since he helped me to order meal I invited him to sit with me on table. We were chatting and eating together. I forgot his name, but I remember that he studied business management and now is working in Japan for Mitsubishi. We spoke a lot about China, Japan, traveling, politics and so on. He told me that he was in Europe in Dubrovnik, Prague and Budapest. After dinner I invited him for a beer in one of several open door pubs in Wangfujing.
Sage of Xiangshan
It was during my trip to Beijing in 2015. I was for a whole day on Xiangshan. At around noon I did one more round of Tai Chi and sat on rock to have rest next to lake. I was again like in 2013 listening to birds, watching lotus flowers and green water. I was watching at completely green hills whose leafs remind waves of an ocean. I remembered everything from past that I saw or did here and mostly that autumn of 2000. I was so happy alone here thinking, feeling peace, closeness to nature, grasping beauty, uniqueness and specificity of this amazing paradise, my Xiangshan, my favorite Jingcui lake. Sitting and thinking I felt someones presence. I heard something was moving from pine forest behind pavilion and my back. I slowly turned back I saw old man with yellow hat sitting on little wooden chair staring at me. He peacefully asked me in English where I am from. I replied from Serbia. His English surprised me but his response in Russian surprised me even more. He said its very clean place in clear Russian. I replied in Russian and explained how I love this place and that I was here many times. We spoke for about 1 hour. We spoke a lot about China, its communist success, better life, Yugoslavia, Tito, Russia, NATO, my childhood, wars in my country. We spoke about beauty and spirituality of this place. He was happy to hear that there is peace and that situation is much better than 15-20 years ago. He also told me that his ancestors worked as gardeners here and that since childhood this place is important for him. Same as this place stuck in my heart since childhood. He told me that he comes here almost every day since he is retired. His view was so simple, calm and kind and so wise. He had small beard. Scene was really like from some Chinese ancient story an old master and his student. After that I went back slowly outside so curious and surprised what happened.
Kung Fu man in Sanlitun Inn
It was my last morning in Beijing in June 2015. I was sitting at hotels lobby with my begs packed waiting for taxi to arrive. Suddenly 1 young man has approached me. He spoke quite good English and asked me whether I want to practice Kung Fu with him. He was so cheerful and hyperactive and was jumping around and doing some Kung Fu moves. We spoke for a while and as I remember he was student of architecture. I noticed around his neck green jade pendant. Then we were wrestling a bit and pushing hands for few minutes before I had to go to take a taxi.
Best taxi driver
Not only in China but best of all taxi drivers that I have met. He was waiting for me in a car in front of Sanlitun Inn and was supposed to take me to Beijing airport. He was bald, had one large wooden bead around neck, and 1 bead on each hand. He was wearing t shirt with portrait of Mao Zedong. There was one bead around gearshift too at its bottom. As soon as we started ride he turned on radio very loudly and was doing some dance moves. Some traditional song was playing. All the time he was trying to speak something with me, but I couldn’t understand him anything. I just said Hen Hao and Mao Zedong Hen Hao. This driver was and is still mystery for me and definitely one of the most interesting people that I have ever seen. He offered me two types of the cigarettes that he had. When I rejected both he made a sad face as a joke. When we have reached airport I felt sorry that our journey finished so fast. Bill was only 70RMB and I gave him 100RMB and told him that he can keep all. He was so happy and we warmly said goodbye and shook hands before I have left the car.
cover photo source: https://squarerootofpie.com/category/travel/china/