Having to travel for work can be annoying for some, but I usually quite like it – especially when being able to go to places like Beijing, as I just did for the past almost two weeks :) Spanning two weekends, there was luckily a bit of time for relaxing and having a look around also, so I tried to make the best of it. Amongst others, this included visits to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, a few of Beijings traditional ‘hutongs’, and also the Great Wall of China.
As most people, I had heard about the Great Wall, but seeing it, and realizing how it follows and tracks the landscape across mountain ridge after mountain ridge, was nothing short of breathtaking. Curving along, and going up and down (rather steep in places!), it seems to have just been built in place as they went along, rather than having been subject to lots of planning beforehand. But then again, with thousands of kilometers of wall to build, that was probably the easiest solution. Impressive none the less! Main problem was that it quickly became a bit challenging to figure out ways of not making all the many pictures I shot look just totally the same :)
One of the things that surprised me the most, was the amount of trees scattered all across the city. Usually when hearing about Beijing as the city, it’s about the massive size, immense amounts of people, and air pollution – so seeing basically every single street and avenue lined with trees was a positive surprise – and made for a very different impression than the concrete desert that I had somehow subconsciously expected. The air was still bad though – luckily not so bad to be much of an issue, except for a single day, where a sandstorm in a nearby region covered the city in a yellowish fog (classified ‘Hazardous’, with pollution levels as high as 900 – ‘Unhealthy’ is hit at 150, and can be compared to the about 15-30 we usually get in Zürich). With convenience stores stocking masks for such occasions, we geared up, and luckily survived without more problems than a few irritated throats.
All in all though, it was all part of the experience ;) – and made for a very interesting trip!