27 Februar 2011

Beijing, China, Timezone UTC +8

I was in Beijing for the first time and I was surprised to see - nothing! The smog above the city was thick and sickening, a superstrong inversion keeps all the industrial fumes of the city down low, you don´t see the sky or the sun properly. My eyes were red, and my voice went croaky.
Yet my curiosity drove me around, first to the Tian´anmen Square - a day before we arrived, there had been demonstrations for freedom and democracy, inspired by the latest developments in Egypt and Northern Africa. Police and military quickly drove those protests apart. Just today there were more protests. While I was in China, I couldn´t access any social network on the internet, no facebook, no blogspot - quite a strong censorship at the moment.
I met with some friends from my crew and we visited the forbidden city, the emperor´s palace, the temple of heaven, and on the last day the Great Wall.
We were really lucky - only on the last day, the wind direction changed and we could see a blue sky for the first time! When we arrived at the Wall, we had a great view in clear air of this strange, huge building - massive blocks of granite high up in the mountains, just as bizarre as the pyramids. And well, it was the perfect wind direction, flying would have been possible. Just nowhere to land, there are tree plantations everywhere, mainly chestnuts and fruit trees.
On the way back, we stopped at the Ming tombs and later on at the Olympic stadiums. Difficult to imagine how the athletes had to cope with this really dirty air in muggy summer, even though the government didnt allow people to drive their cars.
I was impressed by all the friendly, helpful people of Beijing - whenever I looked at a map or on the plan of the subway, somebody stopped and offered help. The subway is the fastest way to get around in the city, but you have to be prepared for a really tight ride at almost any time of day.
I enjoyed climbing around on the Great Wall - we were there quite early, and it was winter, so we were on our own, which is nice after the overcrowded metropole.

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