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I was twice in Bj in 1999. I went there as a solo traveller but had a contact person, one who was my close friend's husband and who lives in the Working People's university.
I had a great time in BJ. I find the laobaishing ( common folks) really friendly, honest and humorous. It's more traditional, austere and sincere than S'hai as my Chinese friends would say too. The best time in Beijing is from September onwards; with a day/evening extreme of cold/hot changes in April, hot and humid in August and I gather, freezing cold in the winter.
Nowadays, you can find anything in Bj. I really like the hot sweet potatoes and yam (that cost a few pennies then!), peaches , lychees, pineapples and other tasty snacks and buns that hawkers sell on their tricycles. The supermarkets are extremely well stocked though I'm not sure if you can get quality ground coffee and other Western foodstuffs.
Best way to find out about tax is to ask your employer - they should know, if they don't, that's suspicious. If that's the case, you should seek the community leaders and ask; if that doesn't help, the local tax offices I guess.
We find BJ deceptively huge; places that look closely on maps are really far on foot. It's a large city with plenty of interesting, historic places... lots of street markets, museums, shops and restaurants too. I especially like getting up at 5 a.m.in the mornings and go into the campus compound to find large groups (hundreds) of people doing Tai Qi Chuan and Qi Gong in the open courtyards. Try to talk to some of them if you need a private teacher.
Wish you a far out time there.
 
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