I would like to literally tell a tale of two cities, and I would like to do it with three peculiar, paradoxal statements. They are all ‘BUT’ statements, because they are things that aren’t exactly as they appear. For some reason, living in Beijing for the last month has really left me with a critical eye for my own city. Go figure.

Here are my musings. This is based on my own experience and resulting opinions, and is in no way an attack on Toronto (I love me some clean air and personal space)!

1) Toronto is more diverse, but Beijing seems more inclusive:

            As honest as observations come, I have found Beijing to be one of the most warm and welcoming communities I have ever experienced. I had a taxi driver last week actually wish me: “Welcome to Beijing!” with a wide smile. Most taxi drivers here speak absolutely no English, and this one used the few words he had he chose to welcome me to the city. Do us Torontonians welcome our minorities in their native languages? Maybe we should.

2) Toronto has a more gender equal culture, but Beijing has more men who are comfortable with embracing femininity:

            I’ll be ‘straight’ about this one – none of the dudes are very big here. Not once have I heard “do you even lift?” or the Chinese equivalent. Nobody lifts, for the most part. It almost feels like macho man image never made it here, as the men are lean and mean and the women seem to love it that way. Male hairstyling is as large a market as female, and the only place in town with ANY notable after bar violence seems to be Sanlitun. Sanlitun is all foreigners, Chinese people don’t seem to like fighting each other.

3) Toronto may be a fraction of the size, but it feels worlds bigger than Beijing:

            In my opinion, a city feels big when there are parts that are out of reach, and when you lose your sense of community travelling between neighbourhoods.  Toronto largely feels out of reach, with a subway fare of $3.00 and laughable parking rates. It’s like they designed the city to keep its residents from moving around. Beijing is by no means the largest subway system – but with a $0.33 fare and taxis at $0.33/km, people are moving around graciously.

What I enjoy most about Beijing is the sense of community – how I feel totally accepted by Chinese and foreigners alike, no matter where I am in the city. Toronto can feel socially cold and sterile at times, and I get very little of that feeling here. Ever. And I'm a big fan of that. 

- Dave



Phoenix can find parking for your car at affordable prices


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    Howdy! Dave Howard here.

    Welcome to my space in our new blogging collab, Jump Factor.

    "Best Foot Forward" is a collection of thoughts, ideas, and interesting stories that hint at little pieces of our human nature.

    In a nutshell - this blog is my own process of self discovery, where I share what I learn about myself and others, through experience, reading, and whatever else.

    It's an odd transition, with the impending end of my undergrad. Come along for the ride! 


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