Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ni hao

Beijing is hard to sum up - it's a mass of contradictions. You've got taxi drivers driving Volkswagen Boras but old ladies reduced to collecting plastic bottles for the refund to make ends meet. You've got food court restauratuers that don't speak any English but still understand when you say "no meat". And a city that prides itself on its cultural history yet is demolishing old parts of the city at a rate of knots. But it's definitely a city on the make. The pace of change and development here is mind-blowing. Our English ex-pat hosts say whole streets are ripped up and relaid in a matter of weeks, and skyscraping apartment complexes are springing up like mushrooms after rain. There's a feverish atmosphere to it all - like they're trying to create the perfect city in time for the Olympics.
I've really enjoyed just taking it all in, although the inevitable run-in with some less-than-friendly single-celled organisms has laid us both up for 24 hours and my stomach is still making the sort of noises that warn sensible people not to stray too far from facilities. I blame the ice confection - never eat a dessert bigger than your head (at least, don't eat it in combination with beer). Tonight we're heading out for Peking duck - when in Rome, eat what the Romans eat!

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