Beijing, China: Final Impressions
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 4 of 4 › view all entries
February 12th, 2008 – by: jlchatham
Taking trains/subways around the city showed a bit more of the rough side, as in some areas there were dilapidated houses by the tracks that I thought were going to be demolished until I saw people coming out of them. In some areas as well, giant walls proclaiming the new era of the city stood in front of more small houses that were in the process of being demolished. It seems this new Beijing has not come without a price, namely the removal of most of the old city and the displacement of its poorer inhabitants.
As far as personal problems in the city, we didn't have too many except in regards to transportation. The buses were virtually unusable as there were hundreds in the same area and the one we needed never seemed to be anywhere that we needed it to be. We had numerous problems with taxis as well; none spoke a word of English (not even subway. Subway!) and when showing them all the place names in Chinese, they would just shake their heads no. We literally had five taxis in a row do this before giving up and retreating back to the Subway. We thought it might just be us until we saw the same thing happening to Chinese people. These taxi drivers just don't seem to know where anything in the city is! Ludicrous. I wouldn't have such a problem with this (especially with the English thing) except for the fact that the world's biggest sporting event is going to take place in 6 months in this city. In a world where most travelers will use English as a medium for language, the fact that most people in Beijing's transporting business can't use even the most basic words (or maybe they're unwilling to?) doesn't seem to bode well for the summer months. Also, there are virtually no signs pointing to any of the major attractions, none! We literally walked around for an hour looking for Tian'amen Square (only the biggest in the world) and the Forbidden City when they were both about 5 blocks away from us. There were zero street signs or pedestrian signs pointing out the directions. Yes, we had maps, two different ones. Not a lot of help, there, though, haha.
Nevertheless, as I said before, I have been very impressed with Beijing and would love to head back there someday. There still seems to be a lot more to see and take part of, and I'm sure in five years it will be as different as it is now from five years ago. Change is in the wind. All for now.
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