Friday, February 09, 2007

Travelog # 28 - Beijing Notes

It was all work and no play this time around, so no pictures and just observations..

Permanent Haze: There seems to be a permanent layer of haze always enveloping Beijing. It is thicker some days than the other but it is a constant companion. I hardly saw sun in my 5 days out there. I was told the problem has to do with the blowing sand from the desert nearby and the pollution. With the 2008 Olympics not far away, Beijing has grand plans to control this problem, so I learn.

Electronic Billboards: Huge electronic billboards greet visitors as they come out of the Airport. They seem to have replaced the vinyl billboards in many parts of the city. Unlike Chennai, these billboards (hoardings) are well regulated and seems to follow some code / standards. (For starters, non of the hoardings were in the sidewalk or obstructing traffic..)

Construction Crazy: I went back to Beijing after 3 months and in that short time more buildings seem to have come up. There is huge subway project underway connecting Airport to the city and the Olympic village and stuff. Beijing has tonnes of freeways and ring roads, yet roads are always clogged and it takes a long time to get anywhere.

Taxis everywhere: I found Taxis the best way to commute within the city. They are present everywhere and ply by meter. But, engaging a Taxi might be a problem if you don't speak the local lingo. One way to mitigate this is to have the destination written down in Chinese.
Beijing Taxi
I lied.. do have one picture.. of the Taxi plying with a working meter.. a pleasant experience for a Chennai resident...

Meat like but its all Vegetarian: It is rare to find a vegetarian or a vegetarian restaurant in China, but if you look closer you can find some. My Chinese colleagues looked hard and found one. They took me this restaurant called Lotus (?), a all vegetarian restaurant (not our Saravana Bhavan) where everything is 100% vegetarian, but the dishes look and taste like meat. It was interesting to order peking duck, shrimp, chicken dumplings and stuff. It was the first for some of my Chinese colleagues as well, but all of them vouched that the dishes not only look like meat but also taste like it.

Blogspot visibility: Last year I wasn't able to access blogspot blog sites from Beijng. But this time around the story is different. I was able to access my blog still can't access or bbcnews etc.,. Not sure the difference and the reason behind this blogspot releaxation, but the internet censorship is very much alive and kicking in Beijing.