Writing China in Country (Part Two)

January 27, 2017

‘Writing China in Country’ is an exclusive milk series which showcases the thoughts and creative writing pieces from Bath Spa University students who studied in China last year. Alex Wilbraham paints an image of the Beijing scene and shares their poem ‘Campus’.

Although we covered most of Beijing’s well-known sights, the image that always comes to mind is our countless walks across the Beijing Foreign Studies Institutes North Campus. To get to the campus we had to walk through an underpass – which probably saved us from many a road accident – and brought us past elderly ladies and gentleman selling Bric a’ Brac and flower paintings. Treading once again above ground we strolled across to the campus and back and forth many times throughout the day.

We would head to the canteen for a breakfast of foods with varying degrees of recognisability, and come back after a day of sight-seeing and wandering past men and women doing their evening laps and hearing the thunk of rackets hitting tennis balls.

The paved lanes, frequented by humans of all ages, mopeds, and vans, lit by bright street lights. We always saw a group of women in traditional dress twirling fans and silk scarfs as they danced to seemingly the same track each evening – their children often joined in, however slightly less gracefully.

I often felt as though the whole of Beijing gathered together at the university. Which actually might have been true. Because that campus was massive.


I hear the cars on the ring road

the ring road coughing,

as I walk under the ring road

the ring road walking.

Sales men under the ring road

the ring road talking.


Red light acceleration.

Pedestrians crossing the ring road

the ring road crossing

slow motion.

100 meter racing

racing across the ring road

the ring road racing.



the smell of diesel fuel

leaking under the ring road

the ring road choking,  

choking up the dense air

fur balls from diseased lungs,  

mucus spitting.


Stray dogs,

crystal ball eyes,

waiting outside the café

the café waiting.

Local students sipping


watermelon sipping.


Before sunrise running

running around the track,

basketball in the shadow

of a Chinese oak.

Curving streaks of sunshine

streaks of sunshine curving

across man made webs


green turf.

Dancing to lullabies

under the streetlights,

summer air weaving

weaving summer air

with silken shawls.

Crossing the ring road

the ring road crossing.

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