"Beijing" Beijing by John195123
Beijing Travel Guide: 6,188 reviews and 15,387 photos
Don't be fooled by what you hear about Beijing being a green city. Don't be fooled by the blue skies... it's not the norm, it's not the real Beijing. They're cleaning up for the Olympics, hiding the dirt, temporarily closing the big polluters for the months leading up to the show... They built walls to hide the dirty side, they seed the clouds, plant trees... all for the facade that the world will see. Those who know China know that the truth is much different. They know that Beijing is a dirty place. It's big, dirty and has lots of really great stuff to see.
Beijing is the capitol and one of the largest cities in China. It is also home to many of China's famous sites: The Temple of Heaven (pictured), the Great Wall (outside the city), the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and that famous square that's so hard to write, Tiananmen Square. Peking Duck and Beijing Opera are two unmissable opportunities.
But Beijing is more that sites, of course... It is also a vastly historical place, especially in the recent years and the years before, after and during the Cultural Revolution. Today, many Chinese view Chairman Mao as a great leader.
But Beijing has a darker side, a side evident in the rest of China. In China's recent opening to free-market ideology, capitalism is flourishing. Yet the race to the dollar comes with a cost, possibly higher than the yuan made. That cost is the environmental damage done to the land, the people and the earth in general, as companies from the west flock to China to take advantage of the lax or "bypassable" environmental regulations. As China whores itself out to capitalism, it's lungs fill with noxious and toxic fumes. They face power crises, for which they don't cut back the decorative lighting on the buildings and signs, but for which they flood irretrievable land, homes and history with the waters of progress.
Beijing's government tries to get the locals to stop spitting, in time for the Olympics. Spitting, however, is a way of life- on the street, sidewalk, inside buildings, on buses... smoking in China is like smoking in the west many years ago- in buildings, around children... China is changing, and many of these problems will change too, as they begin to learn about hygiene. It's amazing that China hasn't suffered major plague.
One further problem- a problem that is endemic here, or so it seems, and a problem that affects us in the west, is the reality of education. Students cheat all over the world, but here in China it's systemic. The school system lets them do it, promotes it. Maybe it's just our school but I doubt it. Yet we in the west lose jobs to China every day. It's all part of the reality of China that doesn't mesh with what we think we know. We think Chinese are hard-working, studious people who respect their elders. Maybe that was the China of old, but I'm not convinced that it's today's China, and I speak with only the evidence of experience- this is not a diatribe against the Chinese. It's what I see and deal with every day, that students who don't study, who aren't accountable should somehow be allowed to pass- we don't want to put them at a disadvantage... they need chances. No matter how many chances they are given, it's never enough.
My only point in all this is to say that it's important to remember what China is, especially around the time of the Olympics, when it's going to boost and boast. Remember that they didn't allow foreign reporters in to cover the Tibet issues of March, 2008. Remember also, that the Chinese believe that they are doing well by the Tibetans, bringing them prosperity and order. That's not something you hear about in the west, but it's true. It doesn't mean the Tibetans don't resent it. Understand that you'll see a sterlized Beijing, with clean streets and no poverty, not because that's the way it is, but because they planted trees, cleaned it up, and built nice, new walls to hide the reality.
China is so many things, and with Beijing at the helm, it can be a great country. We in the west must be careful we don't put all our eggs in one basket. Taiwan is still a big issue on China's agenda, and an area of possible international conflict in the near future.
China is a great place to travel in, but maybe not the best place to live. It's frustrating, loud, dirty and yet has so much to offer, so many things that try to make you forget the frustrations, the noise, the pollution and lack of soap and toilet paper in bathrooms...
In all my China pages, you'll find insights into the people and the culture, both things I like and things I don't. These are purely experiential, and may be different through another's eyes.
- Pros:Many sights.
- In a nutshell:If you don't look behind the walls, it's great!
Didn't stay here, but if you like Marriots, here's one! more travel advice
Many people don't even think about how buildings are made. Maybe they are made well enough here, but the glitsy, shiny... more travel advice
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