We’ve been in Beijing for over a month by now. After that time I feel quite confident in saying, that Beijing is just another big city. It is quite western and very big. If you look at it from a high enough level, it is very similar to other big cities. There is public transportation. People have jobs. There is a large middle class. People buy designer clothes in huge malls. Just the usual.
It is the same shit like home, albeit some things are different. If you zoom in close enough, you can see lots of small differences. In the way, the city works, the society works. Really, it’s all over the place. In the Small Differences series of posts, I plan to point out those differences, I found noticeable.
Small Differences: Prepaid
Having a prepaid cell phone is a very common thing here in Beijing like in many other big cities all around the globe. However, cell phones are not the only thing coming as prepaid variant over here. A few days ago, we had to find out, that also gas, water and electricity are often prepaid in China. And how do you discover something like that? Of course by standing under the shower and enjoying a lack of warm water. We complained to the landlord and low and behold - the next day someone came with a smart card, shoved it somewhere into the gas-meter and everything was fine again.
They also showed us the cards. This is a bit useless since we have no idea at all how to recharge those cards. But I can at least show them here. In order from top to bottom: Water, electricity and gas.
If you think about it, it actually isn’t that bad of an idea. At least people can’t get in situations, where they all of a sudden have to repay huge sums because they used more gas then anticipated.
I will write about heating here another time. There is a small difference to heating as well, although it is not prepaid like gas, water and electricity.