City Weekend Beijing: “6 of the Internet’s Best Chinese Learning Tools”

Sometimes Chinese can be a nightmare. But you have a whole summer ahead of you, why not try to catch up a little on your mandarin language skills? Here are six useful online tools to get your Chinese from mamahuhu to chaojiwudi:


ChinesePod (depicted in the article’s title image)

Chinesepod has Chinese lessons that work. Chinesepod’s podcasts consists of a short sketch which the two hosts disect – explaining the new vocabulary and cultural concepts in depth. The sketches are fun, quirky and you’re bound to relate if you live in China. A personal favorite is an episode called the “DVD Ploy”, a lesson all about netflix-and-chilling China-style. Levels range from beginninger to advanced and members get a free trial for a month after they subscribe. After that, classes cost RMB90 per month and RMB195 per month for Premium. It sucks that it’s not free, but if you’re dedicated to learning Chinese, Chinesepod is worth the price tag. Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Wonder Woman: Amy Li”

The first thing I notice about Amy Li is her elegant style and beaming smile. She tells me to have a seat while she finishes a conversation with some friends. I sit down in a corner and flip through a menu.

It’s lunch time at Pak Pak and the restaurant is packed, the zesty smell of Thai curry rolls over to me in waves. The seats are leather and the décor is composed of a lively palette of greens, blues and browns. When Li comes over to me, I realize she is dressed in a similar color scheme. She also seems incredibly happy here.

Li soon explains why the restaurant resembles her so closely, “Pak Pak is just a representation of my inner world,” she says. “The restaurant is a little society … I want people to see the inner world that is inside of me.”

Li already owned Susu, a gorgeous Vietnamese restaurant located deep within the hutongs; her restaurant mini empire now includes two branches of Pak Pak, one in the CBD, the other in Wangjing. I ask Li how this all started—and it was clear that the road here has been a long one. Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Filming Starts for a Chinese House of Cards Series”

Have you ever watched House of Cards and thought, “what the world really needs is a Chinese version of this show”? And after thinking that, sighed and remembered that a CCP-style Frank Underwood is something we may never see in our lifetime?

Well that is about to change … sort of.

Reportedly masterminded by higher-ups in the party itself, the plan is to invest RMB120 million in a House of Cards-esque television drama aimed to depict the thrills of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign. This marks the first time the CCP has ever depicted their own members as bad guys–bad guys who Xi and his cronies are trying to set right (Big Daddy Xi to the rescue once again). Read the whole article here.

City Weekend: “Your Complete Kids’ Summer Camps Guide” review

Be a Survivalist
Beijing can be a tough place to live, but if you thought the countryside was any easier, then think again. Imagine’s Survival Summer Camp sends kids ages 7-14 out into the wilderness by Huairou (that little town close to the Mutianyu Great Wall). Children will have a stab at surviving in the great outdoors, learning to build fires, make shelters and cross rivers with bamboo rafts. Children will also learn about cooking in the wild, navigating without maps and making tools using only a knife—closely supervised, of course, by professionals with first-aid skills. It promises to be a pretty wild summer in the Beijing hinterlands.

Dates: From June 13
Age range: For kids ages 7-14
Contact:,; 5739-4933
Prices: RMB3,500/week Read the whole review here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Second Bite: Alba Cafe” review

Though Alba café’s menu has had its ups and downs, the café itself has remained the same: the same cozy décor, same great prices and the same Bob Marley tracks playing on the speakers above. This winter the Alba team slipped in a few extra pages to their menu and with the opening of their rooftop terrace for the summer,  it’s a perfect time to check it out.

So what’s the new menu all about? The quick answer: pizzas and sandwiches. The pizza selection includes a chicken pesto pizza for RMB48, a medium sized pizza with creamy pesto sauce, chicken breast, feta cheese and sprigs of fresh basil.  Other pizzas include Parma ham, shrimp and if you’re feeling especially daring – a sweet potato and blue cheese pizza (all for RMB48).

There are lots of new sandwiches as well. They are all served on wooden panels and come with a side of fries – which means that for only RMB30 you can stuff yourself pretty successfully. The open face breakfast sandwich (RMB30) is especially filling, with eggs benedict on one slice of the bagel and an avocado arugula salad on the other. Read the whole review here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Is the People’s Liberation Army’s Video Cooler Than Beyonce’s Lemonade?”

Unless the you’ve been lying under your covers for a month and lost all sense of time and space…you’ve probably heard about the release of Beyonce’s Lemonade music video. But did you know that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) also just released a hip hop music video?

That’s right, you didn’t. Nobody did.

That’s because, although the PLA does have big guns, shiny missiles, and camouflage uniforms galore – their rap game is not super on point. Actually, there are few songs out in the world as bad as this one. Also, three whole minutes of men being shot in the head and tanks crushing things is a bit overwhelming. An angry “rapper” yelling “Brothers to the light! Roar roar roar roar!” doesn’t make things any better. Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Family: Third Culture Kids”

When a stranger asks you where you come from, do you break into a cold sweat? If so, you might be a Third Culture Kid (TCK). The term refers to children who have grown up in a country that is different from the passport they or their parents hold. Symptoms of being a TCK include: not knowing where you come from, accidentally swearing in a language those around you don’t understand and having no clue how to write the date (is it day/month/year or year/day/month or month/day/year … who knows?) Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “Family: Teaching Your Child Manners”

You know that age when kids keep asking why, why, why? Well, we’ve been asking that too—why is it important to be polite? And what is the best way to teach your child manners?

Why learn manners?

It’s hard for a child to be polite if they don’t see a point in all the please-and-thank-you business. So how do you justify your endless nagging? Alison Thompson, academic and communication assistant at 3e International School, says she breaks manners down to her children like this, “[I tell them] that being polite makes people that they interact with feel happy and [willing] to help them. By being rude, they are less likely to get help from someone.” Manners cost nothing, Thompson adds, and it’s never too early to start reinforcing the idea that you should treat others the way you would want to be treated. Read the whole article here. 

City Weekend Beijing: “How Diabetes Can Affect Your Eyesight”

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by the narrowing of arteries behind the retina. This leads to several complications which are divided into stages. In the first, the damage or narrowing of the artery behind the retina causes the contents of the artery to seep into the eye. Patients in this stage will begin to experience problems with their vision, including blurred vision or darkening of sight. The second stage is even more serious. Here, new blood vessels form behind the eye and since these new vessels are fragile, they burst easily, which causes blood to seep into the eye. When this happens, patients might see black dots, or experience blurred vision—in serious cases, patients are only able to distinguish light from dark. The scary news is, while this blood may take days or months to clear, in some cases, it may take years or never clear at all. Read the rest of the article here.

City Weekend Beijing: “Miss Eliza Vintage” Review

For Gulou-dwelling fashionistas who have run out of shops to sustain their eccentric style, Miss Eliza Vintage is your answer. The owner of the store is Miss Eliza herself, a Beijing-born vintage fanatic with a great sense of style and a love for afternoon tea. The shop is crammed full of finds that have plenty of character, with everything from a hippie rainbow-hued jean jacket to a wide selection of ankle-length plaid woolen skirts. The clothes and accessories are all sourced from Japan and most of the clothing dates back to the ’70s or ’80s.

Dresses, skirts, and blouses from unknown brands all fall in a price range of about RMB300-500 and jackets are priced at about RMB800—bigger brands cost twice that, with one beautiful vintage Yves Saint Laurent jacket priced at RMB2,350. Read the rest of the review here.