I spent three nights in Beijing last week, and can safely say that, unlike vibrant Shanghai, if you want buzzing night-life, magnificent skyscrapers and the expat dream then Beijing is not for you.
If you want to be able to breathe then I’d also give the capital a miss.
For my first two days there the skies were pretty blue (perfect for the Great Wall – pics to come); I thought everyone had just been exaggerating about the polluted horrors.
And then day three dawned. By this time the relatively clear APEC Blue sky following Obama’s visit had faded. The APEC summit held in Beijing meant pollution measures were incredibly strict: holidays for workers, shutting down construction sites, banning cars from streets etc. But by the end of my stay in Beijing, its air was back to its usual sorry state.
According to the ‘Air Quality Index’ app on my phone that day, the city was ‘severely polluted’ which, unfortunately, is a pretty regular occurrence for the citizens that have to suffer from it everyday that Obama isn’t visiting.
It is, of course, nothing new to document Beijing’s shocking pollution – it’s done perfectly here. But I thought I’d share some photos, all unedited, to show how bad it really is. Combined with the boxy, Soviet-style architecture, Beijing looks undeniably bleak.
Here are 10 photos I took on a walk from Chongwenmen subway station to Beijing Railway Station: