Tianjin’s Little Italy


So finally I have finished finals for this semester. At times I feel like I have no progress, but then at other times, I understand so many things spoken and written that I know before I would not have. I guess it’s as the teachers and other Chinese people say:

“慢慢来” It will come gradually (lit. slowly come)

Speaking of slowly, I am finally getting to my winter shenanigans. I think for my summer travels I have learned my lesson and hopefully won’t try to do it all after returning. Since I am traveling alone (read: on my own terms) rather than with others who have a time/money constraint, my travels are a bit slower. I’m seeing about the same amount of cities in twice the amount of time. I’ll explain in a later post just before I leave and give you my travel plans!

Here, I can tell you about Tianjin.  I almost wish I was there studying, but then again, Tianjin pollution is up there with Beijing and day to day life seemed a hair more expensive.

Anyway, Tianjin from Beijing is a quick ride relatively speaking.

The hostel was hard to find because it was in a high rise building but we did eventually find it. It took me a few minutes to realize we were indeed at the right place. I had to pull up the listing on my phone and everything and compare photos and sure enough it was correct.

Our initial reaction of this place was that it was really COOL. The high rise locale meant you could see such a nice view of the city, including the Tianjin Eye, of Sauron. JK.

The hostel seemed great, cheap and convenient and this would’ve been the case except that the bathroom was NOT adequate. Lest you think I’m being a baby, the bathroom smelled so strongly of cat pee and it had too many yellowish crud that made me feel it wasn’t cleaned regularly. It was gross and I was annoyed they stuck us in the dorm with such a bathroom when there were two other bathrooms perfectly clean. I felt like those were the “photo” bathrooms or something. Or staff bathrooms. I was allowed to use the one to shower as I complained that the one near us was smelly and gross so that’s the only reason I didn’t completely lose it.

I’ll be going back to Tianjin in a week and you bet your ass I found a different place to stay. Here’s to hoping it’s better!

The city itself was great. It has many reminders of its past as a city with many Europeans. Most notably it had an Italian concession so there is a whole area that was once a place for the Italians living in China like ambassadors and such. There was also a European street with lots of goodies and shops selling American, Russian, and European things. There is also a whole area of Tianjin where there are European style residential buildings which was pretty neat as well. Jagoda and Gosia said it made them feel an unexpected wave of home sickness. For me, it felt like my great-grandmother’s neighborhood in Philly. Perhaps it was due to the immigrants from Europe having been the ones to populate the area but there was definitely some similarities in the overall feeling.

But yeah.. Here are some more photos from our wandering. The fancy building is the Tianjin Ritz-Carlton. We went inside because YOLO. And because I’d probably never have a chance to do so again. PO’ PEOPLE PROBLEMS. It’s probably the only Ritz I could ever afford to stay in as I checked the prices and it runs about $200-$300 per night. Not cheap, but not prohibitively expensive if I for whatever reason felt like wasting money. I will say though that the doormen said, “Welcome home” when you walk through the door and that was all kinds of nice and fuzzy. Man.. wealth is wasted on the rich.

One night was particularly interesting as we wanted something to eat, specifically McDs because of cravings. When we found it, it was the happiest McDs trip I think I’ve ever had. Jagoda wanted ALL THE THINGS, as you can see in her photo she’s quite pleased with herself. You can see how entertaining it was with all of the photos but I promised not to post them as some are not particularly flattering.

The last few were our walk the same night as the McDs trip. We found a bell tower which was interesting but would’ve been better if we could go up. The street to get there was all closed and dark so it was very creepy but in a way, a lot of fun because of it. They had many statues that were extra weird in the dark and it had a very post-apocalyptic feel.

On the way back to the hostel we saw a dude selling fireworks, sparklers, and lanterns. We figured, Why not? and did the lantern. I have the video of that but trying to upload videos with my internet is just not worth the hassle.. but for friends and family, I can show you when I’m home! But yeah, that’s Tianjin.

Here are some NOMS we had at the ancient culture street.. which for some reason I have no photos of. I promise to go again in a week if only to show you photos. It’s freaking amazing. OVERPRICED, but amazing to look at.

As I said, I’ll be in Tianjin to see a friend on the 17th – 18th of this month so after so many months, I’ll be back there as the first leg of my month and a half long summer travels.

I’ll be trying to get all of my winter stuff up in the meantime though so check back often! I will post my travel plans then, too so you’ll know what to expect. I plan on writing my blog as I go this time around so I don’t have to back track and catch up and all that like I am with my winter travels. Too much trouble!


Laowai Shye


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