I’m behind on my blog and am catching up in Seoul.
The Delta flight from Tokyo to Beijing was probably the best flight I’ve ever been on. The flight was empty (nobody within a few rows of me), I had an exit row, had a great meal and watched two movies (Adam and Away we Go). Thought Adam was an insult to anyone on the autistic spectrum (for poor acting if nothing else) but thought Away we Go was a decent flick.
Tokyo and Beijing are similar cities in one way – they are filled with lots of people. But that’s about where the similarities end. Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world with some of the largest and busiest subway stations in the world but there is always a calming sense of order. People queue up in line and incessantly bow to each other. They are polite and follow rules – like standing on the correct side of the escalator. I watched two businesses men bow to each other for around 30 seconds straight and enjoyed the display. Maybe they are the Minnesota Nice of Asia.
In Beijing people are not so polite. Lines mean very little as people simply rush to ticket windows, subways and anywhere else that requires a wait. People routinely stand in the middle of an escalator and at the top of stairs blocking the way. I was also surprised that people standing near the doors on the always packed subway refuse to get off the train and then get back on to let people in/out. In general most social norms of the western world (among other places) appear to not apply in China. Oh yeah, and there is also a lot of spitting and snot rocketing (if that’s a word) going on.
So in summary, Beijing is not a place I would want to live. Little or der, lots of pollution and no Google or Facebook (at least not without a VPN). The pollution was by far the worst aspect of Beijing followed by Internet censorship. And although some food experts say that China has the best food in the world I did not eat that food.
Now that I have that out of the way I will say that the Great Wall was amazing and I wish we would have had more time there. Also, the Olympic Park area is stunning and great to see in person after watching the 2008 Olympics. I’m very happy to visit Beijing but I don’t need to ever go back.