回首頁
「服務他人是你住地球應該付出的租金。」– 穆罕默德‧阿里 (拳擊手)
"Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." -- Muhammad Ali, Boxer
文章搜尋
英語島Newsletter
天天閱讀英語島,在這裡感知世界,汲取英文的養分。
專欄最新文章
其他專欄
世界精神 -- 世界公民文化中心
很多人問我們,你們在做什麼?我說,我們做「世界觀教育」。有人似懂非懂,什麼叫做「...
知識的顏色 -- 知識的顏色
English Island, 你想要什麼顏色?...
語國一方 -- 曾泰元
曾泰元,台大外文系學士,美國伊利諾大學香檳校區(University of Illinois at Urbana-...
波蘭製造 -- 林蔚昀
林蔚昀,1982年生,台北人。英國布紐爾大學戲劇系學士,波蘭亞捷隆大學波蘭文學研究所...
東南亞情歌 -- 梁東屏
前中國時報東南亞特派員,二0一二年退休,現為香港亞洲週刊、新加坡新明日報、新加坡...
伊拉特的春天 -- 吳維寧
30歲到以色列自助旅行,做人生的第一次冒險,像愛麗絲一樣墜入奇幻世界。境中苦痛的種...
呂學海 -- 呂學海
教育是讓人展開一個世界。...
台灣老妹在新加坡。相信幽默跟品味可以翻轉世界,雖然常被說不好笑跟你穿的是睡衣嗎。...
非洲援外計畫及語言工作者,台北出生,政治大學英文系畢業,另通曉法文及土耳其文,深...
Online Library -- 線上圖書館
英語島上有創業家,設計師,文創人,科技人...,每個月品嚐他們的私房英語知識庫。...
台灣師範大學國文系博士肄業,領域專長西周金文、戰國楚簡文字研究。因先生工作關係移...
沙漠中的玫瑰 -- 2017-02-15
【摩洛哥.撒哈拉行腳】 法國社會科學高等研院(EHESS)文化人類學與民族學博士,...
教授不點名 -- 史嘉琳
史嘉琳 Karen Steffen Chung 來自極冷的美國明尼蘇達州,從小跟爸爸學德文。高中開始...
西 風歌 -- 張淑英
張淑英 現任臺大外文系教授兼國際事務處國際長。曾任臺大文學院副院長。西班牙馬德里...
曾在台灣從事網路廣告業5年,現任英國零售業電子商務經理,從最初的Executive,到後來...
一張圖搞懂 -- 一張圖搞懂
2017年1月開始,英語島固定每月出版兩本雜誌,一本是「英語島」,另一本是英語島的spi...
3 min business -- 李宜臻
此專欄一篇提供一個理論,只要閱讀3分鐘,就能實際運用在生活。 ...
科技英文 -- 鄭緯筌
臺灣新竹市人,目前定居臺北,擔任專欄作家、企業講師與網路顧問。曾任風傳媒產品總監...
戒掉爛英文 -- 世界公民文化中心
「戒掉爛英文」是世界公民文化中心源自於商業周刊上的專欄。我們常常接到讀者的意見是...
英語島教學實驗室 -- 英語島教學實驗室
什麼樣的學習文章讓4萬人分享?找出中文母語的人學英文的問題癥結-可能是學校老師教錯...
Eisland -- Eisland
今天網路最紅的影片是什麼?電影對白為什麼讓人念念不忘?天天看E-island,學英文無所...
下一站,世界! -- 下一站,世界!
他是怎麼進入這間公司的?從台灣出發,下一站就是世界。...
移動辦公室 -- 沒有問題 福爾摩斯先生
在台中出生長大,大學念商科卻莫名其妙栽進科技業當產品經理。30歲那年不知道哪根筋斷...
矽谷不是美國 -- Ms. Bubble
台灣安平漁村出了一個矽谷專家,ㄟ,別搞錯了,是食衣住行的專家。第二專長是在出差的...
狂神之夢 -- Evonne
南投布農孩子們的老師,在山上每天陪孩子躺在操場看星星,躲在樹下看貓頭鷹,去年開始...
3坪半咖啡館 -- LovelyShow Huang
現任《小case咖啡》與《小case食宴室》小闆娘。 小case由從事創新科技研究與品牌管理...
英語科學家 -- 李政崇
資訊工程博士,現就讀音樂所碩士班。資料科學家以及業餘男中音,曾從事科普書籍翻譯,...
行動式金錢交流 -- 2017-02-16
把中國說清楚 -- 馬諦斯
數位編輯,在上海生活、工作、六年,攝影機是我的眼睛。人人都說上海這城市是世界的發...
Solo Singer -- 馬永欣
保持謙卑、享受學習,這是人在充滿智慧的環境裡的自然反應,這就是為什麼我們都愛旅行...
文化大頑童 -- William Blythe
When younger, I was under the false but not altogether unpleasant impression tha...
西班牙公寓 -- 胡嘎
13歲開始收藏每期世界電影,在報紙上圈電影時刻表,調鬧鐘在凌晨四點起床看。不過這次...
印度嬉遊記 -- 印度尤
喜歡以跳躍代替行走的人,走在磁磚路上會踩在框框裡的人,常被說是怪咖而自己也覺得自...
學校沒教的英文 -- 2015-03-09
J's Style Lounge -- Jasmine Chang
時尚生活部落客,有「牛仔褲達人」之稱,與許多國際時尚品牌合作撰文,目前為痞客邦化...
荷事生非 -- 荷事生非
穿梭「旁觀者」與「在地人」兩者身份間,「荷事生非」以五大主題深度介紹、討論荷蘭,...
介紹:七年級雜誌編輯,現在的slogan是「愛英語,就是愛世界的同一個過程」,下一個sl...
語言能量室 -- 陳芳誼
口譯是事業也是熱情,特別擅長翻譯啟迪人心的課程與演講,服務對象從企業家李察布蘭森...
柏林的派對教主 -- 2017-02-16
柏林相對論 -- 安琪拉
先是高中填錯志願,大學莫名保送進了德文系。在公關公司打滾四年後收到國外學校錄取通...
 
文/William Blythe

當北京和其他大城市越來越像,外國旅人竟成了公園裡憶當年的老人,彷彿絮叨著北京不再是北京的同時,當年不分日夜燃燒的煤礦煙囪、蜂巢般的胡同,才會再回到眼前。

All foreigners arrive in Beijing with a sigh - they have come too late. Beijing is no longer Beijing. In the 50s, the centre was leveled to create the world’s most hideous square. In the 60s, the city wall was dismantled to make way for an inner ring road. In the 70s, temples were plundered and vandalized by the red guard. In the 80s, concrete monstrosities began to encroach on the traditional hutongs. In the 90s, a very destructive cultural force came into play: money. The high rises became higher. And in the run up to the Olympics, Beijing received a final face-lift; whole sections of the city were wiped out to build shopping malls and redundant sporting arenas.

I first arrived in Beijing in 2005 – sixty years too late. In books, and from more seasoned travelers, I’d caught wind of the splendors of old Beijing, long gone: fleets of bicycles jostling in the summer dust, the majesty of the forbidden city in snow, the flower latticed bricks of obscure lanes. This annoyed me intensely. One does not wish arrive in paradise only to be told that the choirs no longer sing in tune. I was prepared to take Beijing as I found it: a pandemonium, redeemed by excellent food and novel inconveniences (squatting toilets, etc.). But no expert will ever pass up the chance to be an expert. And any foreigner in China for longer than two weeks feels qualified enough to assess the general state of things – they used to be better.

Last month I made my first trip in China in over five years. It was a ‘workation.’ (A good friend of mine recently introduced me to this paradoxical term. It means, apparently, a vacation from work, working. You must be productive, but must also, rather sadistically in my opinion, enjoy it.) Initially, I was based in a hostel to the west of Beihai Park. Many of the guests were discovering Beijing for the first time. In the evenings, they would sit out on the terrace and share their experiences over beer and cigarettes. Sometimes I would join them. As I heard them hold forth, however, on the perils of crossing a Chinese road, or the squadrons of old ladies dancing joylessly in a public park, I was gripped by an irrepressible urge: the urge to be an expert. “When I first arrived in China,” I would interrupt, lighting a cigarette and popping open a bottle of Qingdao beer, “things were a little different.” Over the next hour, I would lecture my unfortunate audience on what Beijing used to be like, and why they had arrived too late: 

沒有飛鴿自行車,只有Uber

“In my day, the only noble way to get around Beijing was by bicycle; and not just any bicycle – it had to be a Flying Pigeon. The cycling lanes were as congested as a busy stretch of the Tour de France. This was less merry in winter, when one’s gloves would freeze to the handlebars. Common practice was for the chap to man the pedals, while his mistress perched daintily on the rack behind. If you got a flat tire, you could take the metro for one Yuan, but that wouldn’t get you far; there were only two lines. Buses were unbearable and the fee for most taxi rides had to be fiercely negotiated. How times have changed! Now the metro takes you from door to door. Bicycles are rare beasts. And Uber has made all other forms of transport irrelevant… 

“The hutongs? Oh, you know nothing of them! In my day, the entire city was a honeycomb of hutongs! It was a simple, rustic way of life, without electricity or running water. Four families packed into a single courtyard. Now, of course, they’ve all moved into lonely, spacious apartments, with high tech toilets and flat screen TVs. The only hutongs left hardly deserve the name. They’ve been spruced up and lined with shops, full of knick-knacks. Hutongs indeed! 

蹲廁裡立起隔板,聊天都不像聊天了
“Chinese toilets, you say? I fear you’ve never seen such a thing. The seated toilet used to be a foreign curiosity. Now it’s invaded all the public lavatories. There have been other setbacks too! Partitions have been installed between the pots, precluding polite conversation with one’s neighbour while doing business. How dull! 

“Smartphones, eh? In my day such things simply didn’t exist. The future hadn’t been invented yet. One communicated via payphone, or from the little red telephones in local kiosks. Now you can’t get by without one of these devils (I say waggling my smartphone). There’s an app for everything. One used to go to the Internet café to access the Internet. But why would you? There was no Facebook, no YouTube, no Weibo. There was also no censorship. The only thing blocking western news outlets was a slow connection…

“And the pollution? You know not the meaning of the word! Back then, power stations were located in the very centre of the city. Coal chimney tops smoked day and night. And no one went to the trouble of measuring the air-quality – they knew it was bad!

我朝地上吐痰,北京人全皺起眉頭
“But what about the Chinese, you ask? They too are different. Spitting used to be regarded as a healthy habit, and was much encouraged. Now, when I spit onto the pavement, the locals frown at me. Smoking, the most sociable of all activities, was a national pastime. Now the trains are smoke free! There are even rumors abroad, in the form of cautionary advertising, that smoking is harmful for your health. I preferred things as they were…

“Last of all, I tell you, the locals no longer stare. A foreigner is now less of a cause for wonder and amusement than a lamppost. I used to be a celebrity! Wherever I went, crowds would gather, photos would be taken. Now the people don’t even see me. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m really here, or if it’s my ghost that is walking through Beijing.”

By this time, most of my audience would have dispersed or quietly fallen asleep. Only one or two youngsters from the Gap Year Group still lingered, too timid or polite to abandon me in the flow my soliloquy. “But if it used to be so much better,” one would ask after I’d finally sunk into a meditative silence, “why did you bother coming back?” At this, I would shake my head and sigh. “Because I still love it here.”

本文收錄於英語島English Island 2016年11月號
訂閱雜誌
加入Line好友