Thursday, November 22, 2012

The value of fresh air

I have just spent a few days in Beijing for work. Although I saw only a tiny fraction of it, it struck me as a truly amazing city, at once modern and ancient. I'll happily admit to wandering around a little wide eyed. The first two days were beautifully clear, cool and sunny. I took a few hours the day I arrived to walk around and see a few sights. I visited Forbidden City, which was the imperial palace over several dynasties, strolled through a couple of lovely parks including Beihai Park with its Emerald Islet and Jingshan Park with its temples and view over the tiled roofs of Forbidden City. I saw the national flag lowering ceremony at sundown on Tiananmen Square and walked through some of the 'hutong', narrow streets lined with traditional courtyard houses where people have lived and worked for centuries, before the high rise era saw many bulldozed. I walked, caught the subway or bus everywhere and didn't resort to a taxi, probably a good thing as all I can say reliably in Mandarin is 'hello' and 'thank you'. The view from my hotel room looked out at the interesting new CCTV building, apparently known as the 'big pants' to locals.

The day before I left, the air quality deteriorated and I awoke to a day where the sun never breaks through the thick cloud of smog and visibility is low, almost as thick as a Huon Valley fog. Surprisingly it smelled of smoke, not car fumes. It reminded me of the very worst bushfire seasons in Sydney. I noticed many people with dry coughs and by the end of the day I had a sore throat too. Some people wear masks, but not as many as I would expect given the dangerous, toxic air. Now more than ever I am grateful for the sweet, fresh, clean air we enjoy in Tasmania.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful photographs Susan. My wife and daughter visited China earlier this year and though amazed by their experiences also were glad to get back to the crispness of Tasmanian air