Things we would do together:
* 清华美术学院 (Tsinghua Art school) I just saw this place yesterday yet it's a 10 minute walk from my house. It's tremendous, housed in a very attractive, very new building with giant wooden panels and red ropes running across the center of the atrium. You can see Chinese students studying surprisingly Soviet-realist oil painting, or mixtures of saluting Mao statues, dragons, and giant red fiberglass contemporary-ness all mixed together in the sculpture garden. Very pleasant with a cheap cafe on site.
* 胡同 (hutong neighborhoods) Crumbling ancient buildings with slope-eaved roofs together with cheap construction efforts and white titled supply stores, noodle carts selling jiangbing pancakes, old men walking their cages birds, questionable massage parlors, Xinjiang men with wool caps grilling skewered mutton while shirtless construction workers drink qingdao beer and smoke strong cigarettes. The soul of north China.
* 草场地 (Caochangdi) This really goes along with 七九八 (798 Art district) and is the darling of the contemporary art scene in China. 草场地 is the more serious of the two, with a recently moved in Dutch gallery with fortress like walls right inside a rather serious hutong. 798 is more drama and cafes, lots more tourists and 10x the size.
* 饭！ (food!) This is countless and beyond description, and the food scene here is incomparable and very cheap, even for high-end restaurants.
* 七彩大世界 (Embassy market) Not sure of the English name of this place, but it's near 女人街 (Women's street) This market has an impossibly random assortment of revolutionary grenade launchers and espresso machines, cell phones and counterfeit dresses, used furniture and old records. The whole area around it is terribly strange with a kosher and African themed restaurant on the same street.
* 钟鼓楼 (Drum and Bell tower area) A solid strip of nice restaurants, DVD and anime shops, traditional candy and toy stores, Yunnan bars, mellow music coming from cafes, incredibly real hutong, etc. surrounded by the most beautiful setting in the entire city, with the ancient bell towers visible from everywhere in the area, trained pigeons with whistles attached buzzing overhead and enough places to see and walk around to occupy the whole night.
* Besides this, there are more obvious tourist sites in and around Beijing (great wall, ming tombs, Tiananmen, Forbidden City...) plus dozens of smaller or unnoted places. I'll keep up with the posting, and everything is fine with me here! A little homesick still, but managing to do well here.