Intially Beijing at ground level can be like a slap in the face, especially after coming from polite and orderly Japan. I'ts noisy, dirty and the air, well. Health experts warn breathing Beijing air is the equivalent to smoking 70 cigarettes a day. Now that seems a bit much, but combine fumes, dust, cement and aspestos (mostly from construction) and you start to see their point. Once here you quickly develop the clearing of throat 'Chinese street style', mind your shoes. It takes a little period of adjustment. Can't seem to shake that cough either.
Construction is everywhere. They're all trying to get finished before May 1st when all construction must cease. Which brings us to our next point, the restaurant Hammer was going to work at is not finished yet so no construction means no job till next January. Not a major problem as there seems to be plenty of opportunity over here. We've spent a lot of time walking the streets, it always seems much further than the map due to the soviet inspired layout, which has led to weight loss and blisters.
Now, what do you do when you're finished with the leader of the cultural revolution? You pickle him, then put him on display, wrapped in a hammer and sickle. We 'had' to go and see the Chairman in all his formaldehyde glory, a site which still brings some locals to tears. Some want it removed to give a better impression for the olympics, some just say it's bad feng shui.
We made it out to an unrestored section of the Great Wall and we're kept busy with an endless choice for food, but unfortunately the flu cut our other plans to see the birds nest and the Olympic site, short. We'll have to pick up where we left off next time.
Shanghai was a refreshing change. A big thank you to Hamish and Kate for giving us a place to stay and showing us around the city. It allowed us to shake our flu's and enjoy a few creature comforts before moving on with our travels. Shanghai seems to have endless shopping opportunities, a really good expat community and to be the more comfortable of the two cities for lifestyle.
There is, however, great energy in both cities as they gear up for the olympics and world expo 2010 and it's easy to see why there is so much fuss about China at the moment. These guys really do mean business and it's just incredible this country's transformation in the last 25 years or so.
So, we look forward to coming back in the future to hopefully see some more of the rural parts and definately take in some Shanghai shopping. Eh Cec?