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Liulangzhuang voices 2

November 7, 2013

Liulangzhuang will be torn down 2010-08-18

I just saw in the paper that the Liulangzhuang I know well will be completely torn down. Last year when I first came to Beijing, I lived in Liulangzhuang, an urban village two stops away from Zhongguancun [Beijing’s silicon valley].

At that time I lived in a small three story building built by a family. I lived in a very small room on the first floor. Monthly rent was 430 yuan, internet fee 50 yuan, electricity 10 yuan, water I did not have to pay. I estimate the room’s area was less than 8 square meters. Two single beds fit inside: on one I slept, on the other I put my things.  The landlord’s older sister every day swept the corridors, mopped. The inside of the building was very quiet. At night she checked to see that the water and electricity were shut off or not. One time at 11:30 at night, I went to the washroom to wash my hands, she was there sweeping, and said to me, “ Young miss, be quiet, don’t make noise that bothers others, don’t forget to turn off the light.” She was really very good.

The landlord had a black dog that was always at the entrance, named “Little Black.” Little Black was actually a big dog, whenever a stranger came he discharged his duty by barking loudly. The strange thing was, he never once barked at me, but let me stroke his ears, just like my dog back home. When my schoomate came to visit me, he barked for a long time..I still remember him…

The internet connection was not very good. Everyday it dropped off, or there was some kind of disruption. At that time I was looking for a job. During the day the connection was OK, but at night, no good. I spent many sleepless nights then. At about 6 or 7 in the morning, when dawn came, and I heard the neighbors beginning to get up, I turned my computer off and went to sleep.

In Liulangzhuang, getting a meal was inexpensive, not more than 7 yuan. There were many small restaurants, especially a number of “Shanxi Noodle Shop” outlets [a chain]. I often went to one of these outlets, everyday I had noodles, fried noodles,  stir-fried minced cake with meat and vegetables [chaobing] or boiled dumplings. In the evening people came home from work, the streets were full of people, many, many people, and bicycles. Most of them were temporary workers in Zhongguangcun. Many venders set up stalls as well.


The most inconvenient thing was taking a bath or going to the toilet. In the washroom there was a showerhead, but the water was always cold. One could go to the landlord’s own bathroom on the third floor, for 5 yuan each time, or 50 yuan a month. Inside the building there was no toilet, you had to go outside to the public toilet, this was not a flushable toilet…dirty, messy, smelly. Since coming to Beijing, the first place I knew was Liulangzhuang, the second was Tangjialing. The Tangjialing “ant tribe” [college graduates swarming to Zhongguangcun to look for work] got a lot of attention from the media, but Liulangzhuang was more low key.

During the period I was looking for work, every day I took the 374 bus, got off at the Beijing Earthquake Office, transferred to the 10 subway and hurried to various interviews or written exams. I didn’t have a chance to eat or sleep well. 20 days after arriving in Beijing,  I had already lost 4 kilos [8.8 lbs] As soon as I got a job, I moved away.

The summer I was there, there was the Summer Music Festival in Haidian park, I could walk there on foot. Every weekend I went to see bands perform, I enjoyed it a lot. That way I found out about the band “Nanwu” and the one called “Idiots”

I have several friends who still haven’t moved out of Liulangzhuang. I only hope that from henceforward their lives in Beijing get better and better!

This was my room

This was my room

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