I used to love taking visitors in Beijing to the Wangfujing Snack Street, where vendors sell all manners of food deep-fried on a stick — everything from silkworms to scorpions to unmentionable body parts. In the middle of it all there is one stall that sells candied fruit.
This morning I made a trek down to Wangfujing, Beijing’s main shopping street. I don’t go down there too often, but today one of the things I wanted to do was take a picture for a “then and now” set.
This first photo was taken on the corner of Wangfujing and Changan Avenue, looking towards the northeast. At that time, Wangfujing was still a narrow 2 lane road lined with shade trees and 2-story buildings. The MacDonald’s in the photo was Beijing’s first, which at the time claimed to be the largest in the world. I was living in Changchun at the time, and would (with my fellow language school classmates) make regular shopping trips to Beijing. The overnight train arrived into Beijing around ten in the morning, and we would make a bee-line to this MacDonald’s. It was almost too good to be true.
We sensed China was on the cusp of some radical changes (what better proof than this, right?), but never imagined the scope or rate at which they were going to come.
This photo is taken at exactly the same spot, almost twenty years later. The MacDonald’s got moved up the street.