Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Life in Beijing's Cellars
Spiegel ^ | By Andreas Lorenz in Beijing

Posted on 12/25/2010 11:23:19 AM PST by DeaconBenjamin

As Beijing's real estate prices rise, those who cannot afford the rent go underground -- literally. Hundreds of cellars and air-raid shelters are rented as living spaces.

For 27-year-old Dong Ying, Beijing is a city of dreams. Two years ago, the sports teacher relocated to the Chinese metropolis. Here, she hoped, her wishes for a more interesting life would be fulfilled.

She goes from fitness club to fitness club every day, working as a trainer. She pedals, she bends and straightens and ensures that the affluent city residents stay in shape. To reach her students, she spends four hours each day in the city's subway.

She earns 3,000 yuan ($450) per month, far more than she would have earned in her hometown. "I am happy," says the young woman. "I love my work, and I feel free."

But there is a flaw in her lifestyle. Dong Ying lives underground. The only accommodation she can afford is a tiny room in the cellar of an apartment building. Every month she pays $68 for the room. Other tenants live even further down, on the cellar's second level, where the rent is even cheaper.

A bed, a small cupboard and a desk just fit into Dong Ying's room. A communal toilet and bathroom are at the end of the hallway. Anyone living here must eat out every day because any kind of kitchen is prohibited for safety reasons. Still, Dong Ying is positive: "The house management is OK. The corridor is clean."

Dong Ying is one of hundreds of thousands of Chinese sentenced to a life underground -- migrant workers, job seekers, street vendors. All those who can't afford life above ground in Beijing are forced to look below.

(Excerpt) Read more at spiegel.de ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: beijing

1 posted on 12/25/2010 11:23:20 AM PST by DeaconBenjamin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: DeaconBenjamin

Those places look much better than some of our ghettos.


2 posted on 12/25/2010 11:25:05 AM PST by dragnet2 (Diversion and evasion are tools of deceit.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dragnet2

Goodness gracious — what would Chairman Mao think of this? People live in places which they can afford, or I should say, where they live is limited by how much money they have?

What about “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”?

I wonder if Chairman Mao would recognize China today, considering the free market reforms, and “decadent” indicators such as American fast-food franchises and so many Chinese people having their own cars??????


3 posted on 12/25/2010 11:31:43 AM PST by Dilbert San Diego
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: dragnet2

A lot of that depends on the quality of people.


4 posted on 12/25/2010 11:31:55 AM PST by vladimir998 (Copts, Nazis, Franks and Beans - what a public school education puts in your head.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: DeaconBenjamin

Nice community laundry, tub, must be a new model from sears.


5 posted on 12/25/2010 11:34:37 AM PST by org.whodat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DeaconBenjamin

I just have to ask, does one remove his/her pants to use those toilets?


6 posted on 12/25/2010 11:38:17 AM PST by netmilsmom (Happiness is a choice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: netmilsmom

I never did - but as they say - it is an acquired skill.

This is a very common facility in Asia.


7 posted on 12/25/2010 11:41:44 AM PST by ASOC (What are you doing now that Mexico has become OUR Chechnya?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: netmilsmom

Ever notice that Orientals are able to squat very deeply?


8 posted on 12/25/2010 12:06:22 PM PST by Louis Foxwell (pka: Amos the Prophet)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: DeaconBenjamin

There are a lot of advantages to living underground, if the accommodations are designed properly and well maintained.

If you live in a house, the best way to imagine this is to think of your house as a “penthouse” of sorts, and imagine what you could do if you had three or four basements and sub-basements beneath it. Not unpleasant at all.


9 posted on 12/25/2010 12:28:26 PM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DeaconBenjamin; dragnet2; Dilbert San Diego; vladimir998; org.whodat; ASOC; Louis Foxwell; ...

Cities of the Underworld-Beijing. Don Wildmon call your office.


10 posted on 12/25/2010 12:39:45 PM PST by sinanju
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell
LOL, haven't been out of the country much???? That fixture is common all over the world, but in Muslim countries they are out side and they have no door!!
11 posted on 12/25/2010 12:42:28 PM PST by org.whodat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: yefragetuwrabrumuy
There are a lot of advantages to living underground, if the accommodations are designed properly and well maintained.

Cool in summer, well-insulated in winter. The only major issues are safety/evacuation, ventilation and psychology. The first two can be overcome with thoughtful design, the third with good lighting and frequent trips outdoors.

I have to wonder about the evacuation plans. If these were fallout shelters, they probably have a single entrance and exit, which could leave a lot of people cut off from escape and air in case of a fire. The ventilation is also probably limited. But from the pictures, I've lived in worse places.

12 posted on 12/25/2010 12:45:42 PM PST by ReignOfError
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

I thought the biggest complication for underground living was the drainage and water table factor. I know most of those basements and extensive underground garages would fill up with water like Saddam’s abandoned bunkers if the sump pumps were shut off.

Having a 4-level, liveable basement in my house would certainly appeal to my Dale Gribble instincts but wouldn’t such deep diggings require massively expensive reinforced-concrete retaining walls and 24/7 pumps? Not to mention forced air ventilation and ducting. I get the impression that digging deep generally is a good deal more expensive than simply buying more land and building bigger and wider.

Except if you live in a dry, geologically favored area where the water table is way down below and the substrate doesn’t need reinforcement (like where they filmed Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome).


13 posted on 12/25/2010 12:47:07 PM PST by sinanju
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: ASOC
This is a very common facility in Asia.

Amazing. When I hit up the men's room in the main train station in Rome, in 1992, it was exactly the same thing. I couldn't believe my eyes!
14 posted on 12/25/2010 1:14:46 PM PST by andyk (Hi, my name's Andy, and I am a BF 1942 / Desert Combat junkie.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: netmilsmom

People brought up in Asia have trouble “going” unless they squat. If you’ve lived in a typical “no doors on the stall” college dorm seeing your Japanese co-residents squat atop a western style toilet reading the latest Manga from home is something you don’t soon forget.


15 posted on 12/25/2010 1:19:36 PM PST by katana (Chanukkah is over and Kwanza is fake. Merry Christmas!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: vladimir998
A lot of that depends on the quality of people.

I think that more stems from China's policy of "a bullet in the back of the head" for a second drug conviction. They even charge the family for the bullet. Now that's really cold, but it does keep the rate of recidivism down!

Regards,
GtG

16 posted on 12/25/2010 1:28:52 PM PST by Gandalf_The_Gray (I live in my own little world, I like it 'cuz they know me here.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

17 posted on 12/25/2010 1:29:15 PM PST by Rebelbase ( Islam is a mental disorder.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: katana

We have Indians at my work place that get their feet up on the toilet seat and squat. We are also rampant with staph infections. I work at a large worldwide corporation that prides itself on it’s “diversity”.


18 posted on 12/25/2010 1:31:25 PM PST by caver (Obama: Home of the Whopper)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: org.whodat

You got me. Not a world traveller. Bucket list.


19 posted on 12/25/2010 1:55:01 PM PST by Louis Foxwell (pka: Amos the Prophet)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Louis Foxwell

First time I saw one of those on a street I was struck dumb, took picture to mail home. LOL


20 posted on 12/25/2010 2:28:43 PM PST by org.whodat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: caver
LOL, ever work with those that wash their feet in the sink!!!
21 posted on 12/25/2010 2:30:59 PM PST by org.whodat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: DeaconBenjamin

Small, but clean and safe.

Tell her stay our of Detroit, Camden, Central LA, Harlem, Roxbury, South Side of Chicago, North Philadelphia, East Baltimore, and Northwest Washington DC.


22 posted on 12/25/2010 2:47:20 PM PST by SkyPilot
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SkyPilot
Northwest Washington DC

Georgetown? Embassy Row? Connecticut Avenue? I would say SE, SW, and NE before I would say NW.

23 posted on 12/25/2010 4:15:14 PM PST by DeaconBenjamin (A trillion here, a trillion there, soon you're NOT talking real money)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: DeaconBenjamin
In Stockholm, they make old fallout shelters into into office space
24 posted on 12/25/2010 5:05:41 PM PST by ASOC (What are you doing now that Mexico has become OUR Chechnya?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ASOC

Pretty cool fallout shelter / office. Sort of a “Dr. Evil” 60’s Post-Modern style.


25 posted on 12/25/2010 5:20:57 PM PST by 6SJ7 (atlasShruggedInd = TRUE)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: katana

Wow!


26 posted on 12/25/2010 6:45:12 PM PST by netmilsmom (Happiness is a choice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: ASOC

Wonder if the place was decommissioned as a bomb shelter why they kept those emergency generators. Maybe it was too expensive to cut them up and haul them away?


27 posted on 12/25/2010 8:29:31 PM PST by sinanju
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: 6SJ7

I’m pretty sure that’s the same fallout shelter/office used by Wikileaks’ Web host.


28 posted on 12/25/2010 11:15:07 PM PST by ReignOfError
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: sinanju

Creation of good basements and sub-basements is a real art as much as a science. Out in the western US, there are few good residential basements, because few contractors know all the ins and outs.

Disasters happen when someone tries to build a basement just based on zoning standards, because every one needs to be different, if you want them to last and not be maintenance heavy. Any and every type of water in the area, soil types, earthquake activity, sometimes electrical grounding, conduits, sewage and fresh water plumbing, primary and emergency vertical lift, toxic gases and ventilation, even insects, molds, and roots have to be taken into account.

And then, if you want more than just a basic basement, it can get complicated.


29 posted on 12/26/2010 7:06:08 AM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: sinanju
If I ran an ISP, I would want backup gensets. I worked at a telecom/ISP provider (a big one) at the main switching center we had a pair of 1MW Cat genesets. 5K gallon fuel tank and a ‘backup; 500 gallon fuel tank.

So, keeping theirs makes sense. The gensets were likely in pristine condition and low hour.

30 posted on 12/26/2010 11:38:11 AM PST by ASOC (What are you doing now that Mexico has become OUR Chechnya?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

So I guess, if one is having an elaborate basement built, one is best advised to go to a commercial contractor to handle the subterranean element?


31 posted on 12/26/2010 8:30:50 PM PST by sinanju
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: sinanju

From what I’ve heard, some contractors practically specialize in basements, needing more skilled and semi-skilled workers than surface contractors. They also have to be more heavily insured, because it is often much harder to fix mistakes after the fact underground.

And, to top things off, as far as the surface contractor is concerned, the basement is their foundation, so what they do is reliant on the quality of the construction beneath them. But the two are not disconnected, so they share sewer, water, electrical, air ducts, stairs and lifts, and likely other stuff as well.


32 posted on 12/27/2010 7:01:18 AM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson