Beijing Travel Blog› entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
It's my first visit to Beijing in 16 years (1992), and this is the most changed city I've ever encountered. In 1992, bicycles ruled the roads. There were many hutong neighborhoods and no tall buildings. People on the streets wore Mao hats, cotton shoes, and army-style coats. Today, it could pass for any other Asian city. Wow.....
My first stop upon my afternoon arrival in Beijing's massive new airport (did you know it is now the largest enclosed building in the world?), is the the Summer Palace. If you've read my "My Long March" blog, you'll remember that I missed the Palace in '92 because of a bout of dysentery. In some ways I'm glad, because with my digital camera, I'm now able to take some incredible pictures of this lovely park that I would not have taken then then.
Afterwards, as the sun starts to set, I'm keen to see the new Olympic buildings, so off I go, only to be thwarted by the fact that the Special Olympics are currently underway and I'm not even allowed onto the premises without a venue ticket. Oh well. I (and not a few other Chinese tourists) click some photos of the Bird's nest and the Water Cube from across the nearest highway. I only have time that evening to see the new CCTV building before I head to the West Train Station for my overnight train to Datong. On the bus, I have a pleasant conversation with a young Chinese student using my rusty Chinese. It seems nowadays, being a Gweilau and speaking Chinese is really no big deal. Back then, I would command upwards of 40 staring onlookers! Today, I get only a grudging compliment.