First stop, Beijing. The capital of China. Home to emperors of dynasties gone by and centuries of oriental history, culture and Beijing Kaoya (duck).
I was greeted by… smog, smog, smog.
I must say, I’ve been to Beijing before, so I know a little of what to expect. But it’s always a culture shock like no other to come from springtime in England, flooded with greenery, little yellow daffodils and a handful of people strolling lazily in the sunshine… to a MEGA Chinese city, coming out hibernation of the winter season, with over 14 million people pushing and shoving on the subway (they even employ people to physically ram people into the carriages, with force).
Hello China. Bewildered, to say the least.
But I’m just being a pessimist. It’s not all bad. Really!
After the first day, we had a rainstorm and the blanket of pollution cleared to make way for blue skies and sunshine. A rare treat!
But look at me, being a typical Brit and harping on about the weather.
So far I’ve visited parts of the real China I’d never actually experienced in the city before;
Like the Hutongs of Dashilar, where we stood on the rooftops and admired the sunset from one of the few remaining traditional districts in Beijing and which would have housed the majority of locals living outside of the Forbidden City walls.
Like staying within a Capital University, amongst other international students, brushing up on my Mandarin and practicing Tai Chi in one of the leading sports colleges in China.
Like paying the Chinese Yuan equivalent of 70p for this little bowl of heaven – freshly made, steaming udon noodles. OMNOMNOM ;).
Yes, pollution aside, I really do have a soft spot for China.