Feng and I first met in Beijing in 1999—we were both foreign students at the same university.
In 2008, we tried to find the university campus again. It was harder than we had expected it—Beijing changed so much and so fast! We did eventually find it, but it was being torn down. There were only a few buildings remaining, including my former dorm.
This time, we decided to check it out again, to see what came out of the ground.
The university was located on Fuchengmen Dajie, a wide, busy and endless artery dotted with government buildings, small businesses, banks, malls and overpass bridges. And as we did in 2008, we thought we knew where we were going—but in fact, we did not.
So we walked along Fuchengmen. “I remember these buildings,” I said. “And this is definitely the small hutong close to the campus,” added Feng.
But no, it wasn’t. So we walked further, and further, and further, buying 酸奶 (Beijing yogurt) and ice cream bars along the way.
Finally, we reached a hutong that seemed familiar. For real. “The Internet café was around the bend!” I said, excited. “There was an Internet café?” “Yeah, that’s where I opened my first-ever email account on Yahoo,” I replied.
We hailed an old lady on the balcony overlooking a new development site. She confirmed that it was a university, the modern version of the old traditional campus we had attended in 1999. The school was still there, just rebuilt from scratch.
We even found the sign, confirming it was indeed our old school.
Yes, this is how it all started… in Beijing, in 1999. Blast from the past!