Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Russia Town

So you go out of the South Gate of the Forbidden City in Beijing, and you turn left. Walk straight for about 45 minutes towards Ritan Park, and something strange starts to happen.

You start to see signs in Russian.

As the signs grow more fequent, you'll begin to see white older women with purple hair and leopard skin tops, and burly grey-haired older dudes with gold chains and man-purses and take-no-shit glares.

You've just walked into Russia Town.

The Russians you see will rarely be the hip 21st century kind; they'll be rough provincial ones, and in fact you'll often see Kazakhs, Tajiks, and Uzbeks there.

 This area - basically a couple of blocks surrounding Ritan Park -- is the last gasping remnant of an area of Beijing that has subsisted since the 80s and 90s, when China was one of the few places that Russian tourists could easily visit, and Russian tourists were usually looking for an angle to make a profit on.

There are a handful of Russian, Georgian, and Ukrainian restaurants there, and some big shopping centers that cater to a clientele of people who are usually buying large amounts of clothing wholesale, usually to take back to remote areas to sell at outdoor markets or small shops. Appropriately, there are a number of cargo and shipping agencies also, and two hotels full of Russians, Tajiks, and Kazakhs. One of the hotels is cheap (where I occasionally stay) and one is expensive (where I stayed once, with the Girlfriend.) The shady Chocolate Nightclub offers a Russian dance show full of saucy babes, if you're down for a night at a clip joint.

Don't eat at this one, it kind of sucked. 

There was colorful, moldy, delapidated old-style covered market nearby, quaintly labelled the "alien's market" that sold various kind of cheap made-in-China geegaws -- phone cases, suitcases, sunglasses, as well as green tea and such, but that closed last year.

The big wholesale shopping places down there will probably close next; that kind of informal import-export  paradigm is dying out, of course. "We'll go to China and buy some jeans for $10 and bring them home and sell them in the parking lot for $15!" is definitely a sad waning echo of the 90s and early 00s. Online retailers like AliBaba will deliver direct to the Russian rinok, these days, and soon those will be closed too, even in places like small-town Siberia.

So, while it lasts, enjoy it. Go to Ritan Park on a nice evening and watch the tai-chi and kung-fu enthusiasts working out there and then stroll around the area, and maybe you'll even spy a hot young Russian babe. Have a nice bowl of borscht and a beer and some brown bread, and enjoy a present which is, as ever, rapidly fading into the past.


craicher jack said...

Markets for clothes will never die because people need to try them on. And watch as governments make moves to tax or otherwise encumber giants like Alibaba, especially when they are foreign giants.

Too negative X.

Out where I am in the provinces there are a few Russians too. Mostly students or models working illegally. I bought a bottle of Russian vodka here and put it in the freezer. It froze. I'm guessing the Chinese either open them and water them down or they are just straight up knock offs.

englishteacherx said...

You know, having done that many times, I've also seen that, but I think that even 40 percent alcohol will freeze in a cold enough freezer; just pay attention to how quickly it thaws. Should be very quickly.

People will always need to try them on -- tell that to all the empty malls in the suburbs of America ...

Anonymous said...


englishteacherx said...


craicher jack said...

Maybe your right about the malls but that is the USA where it is a huge hassle to shop as you have to get in a car and drive forever. I'm not sure the markets will ever completely die in the rest of the world that is pedestrian oriented. They are getting hit for sure. But completely die off and close? I don't see it. Plenty of markets around here and still Taoboa is huge too.

No way governments are going to allow these behemoths like Amazon to keep growing. Moves will be made to stymie them.

I saw three young, very hot Ukrainian girls at the gov. office where you get your working permit in order here. I asked what they were doing here. They were hired as cleaning ladies in a hotel!!! Right!

Jug Jugette said...

Nice to see "geegaw" dusted off and given an airing.

jiyajoshi said...
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