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nick-taylor
April 3rd, 2009, 04:27 PM
BEIJING - City to Nowhere

Most people expect cities like Beijing to be hip, up and coming and moody. Unfortunately they can also be dull, monotonous and ugly. Beijing falls into the later group. In contrast to Hong Kong and Tokyo (photo sets to follow), Beijing for me became a chore - a place where the highlight of every day was the buffet breakfast in Dongcheng district.

Whether it was the constant harassment to help some granny and her kid, or prossies every 50m after 8, the annoyance of vendors in the pedestrianised areas around the Olympic village, the blandness of showing off China's most historic monuments (exception being a walk up and along the the Great Wall) or the impression that there was a curfew in effect - Beijing is a poor template for other Chinese cities. Don't even mention the [government] factory (+ mandatory shop) where I have never seen so many people in my life doing...nothing! Shanghai is far better, but then that could be because it isn't political and 'stiff'. Then again, Hong Kong creams them both, and I joked with my friend that they ought to relocate the People's Congress to Hong Kong!

A complete and utter let down, and for that reason my photo journal is rather short in contrast to my other destinations over the Xmas-New Years period. Photos of Hong Kong and Tokyo to follow.



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stache
April 3rd, 2009, 08:16 PM
I came close to having to go there for work. I would have been there right about now. The $ would have been nice but I was not looking forward to it.

Alonzo-ny
April 5th, 2009, 03:02 PM
Thanks for the pics Nick, Im especially looking forward to the Tokyo pics.

ablarc
April 5th, 2009, 04:09 PM
Nick, Beijing doesn't look so awful in your pics --though you don't include many shots of ordinary places. I wonder if you were in a funk due to other causes; food poisoning, perhaps?

nick-taylor
April 5th, 2009, 04:43 PM
Nick, Beijing doesn't look so awful in your pics --though you don't include many shots of ordinary places. I wonder if you were in a funk due to other causes; food poisoning, perhaps?I suppose it is one of those places where you have to be there in person, which is quite funny because some of the Tokyo pics I took looked mediocre, but the atmosphere was buzzing.

The sad thing is that this is meant to be the premier city of China (excluding Hong Kong), the smaller cities (although with whopping populations that make most EU/NA cities blush) are even worse. Take Shenzhen, you enter it once you head north from Hong Kong. The place is a sprawl of identi-kit tower blocks with motorways dividing the place. It does have a growing heavy rail network, but I don't think I have seen such a soul-less bleak place. You'll laugh out loud at the 'hot dog' I got at Shenzhen airport.

The problem with China is that it is repeating the same mistakes made in the 'suburbs' of Moscow and other Soviet-era cities. Unrest in these poor environments ultimately led to the fall of the USSR. I wouldn't be surprised to see China fracture for similar reasons.