I had the privilege of spending a couple of weeks in Beijing. I love being back in the city I called home for 14 years. So much changes and so much stays the same.
Herewith are a few random observations:
Beijing still has some of the best food in the world! (Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post.)
Even though the government announced that air quality had improved overall in 2015, I saw no evidence of it. Beijing (and all of north China for that matter) was enveloped in a soul-crusing soup of fog/smog/dust the entire time I was there. And yes, I came home with an upper resperatory infection.
The government recently announced plans to combine Beijing Tianjin and part of neighboring Hebei Province into one municipal district to form a mega-city (as if Beijing’s 20 million doesn’t already qualify). Supposedly this will make for a more livable and affordable city. I talked with a friend who has recently purchased an apartment in the Hebei portion of this soon-to-be megalopolis. It is an hour and a half by train from where she works. I fail to see how this is going to help.
Most people that I spoke with seemed to be taking the announcement of the change in the one-child policy with a shrug. Those who really want a second child had already figured how to get around the policy, and many believe they simply can’t afford a second child.
It’s time to take down and replace the Beijing West Train Station. Unlike the new ones being built, which are open and airy, this one is a warren of dark rooms and underground walkways to nowhere.
That said, the bullet trains remain a fantastic way to get around the country. I made a quick trip to Taiyuan, Shanxi and back. What used to be an 11 hour journey now takes only 3.
Of course the best thing about Beijing is the great friends I have there. I am grateful for the opportunity to get back there and see them from time to time.