Beijing. A truly intriguing introduction to China


Chances are that upon your arrival in Beijing the first thing you notice is the smog. You can already see it as you descend into the city. It lingers over Beijing like a thick fog that keeps the sun from peeking through; a blue sky in Beijing is rare.

As you make your way into the city, skyscrapers suddenly appear, followed by small traditional houses and courtyards (better known as Hutongs), colourful lanterns, little peculiar shops the size of a closet and lots and lots of street vendors. Then there is the endless honking, the belt-less roller coaster taxi ride into town and the impressive amount of bicycles.

In China, like in most of Asia, traffic rules do not apply, but somehow all the pedestrians, bikes, rickshaws, cars, taxi’s, buses and electric scooters seem to manoeuvre their way through the traffic in a scary but impressive manner. Beijing is one of the world’s best cities to explore by bike. Make sure you take a ride through the Hutongs, this will allow you to catch a glimpse of the daily life of the locals and will give you an idea of what life must have looked like before the skyscrapers and neon lights.

As the city wakes up you see people greeting the day with dance and exercise, you see the narrow streets, the small houses in which entire families reside, the local shops, tea houses and restaurants and if you are lucky you might even get invited to sneak a peek into one of the many beautiful courtyards.

There are few countries in the world that have such a rich and diverse history as that of China and it is very likely that you will develop an incredible respect and fascination for China and the Chinese lifestyle. Travel through Beijing with an open mind, a sense of humour and explore all it has to offer, there is no doubt you will be fascinated by the hustle and bustle of this city

Beijing is rich in culture. There are temples, theatres, markets, parks, traditional teashops and the widest collection of fragrant teas you will ever see, the famous Peking duck, karaoke, Beijing opera and probably the biggest attraction to the city, the Great Wall.

Beijing is one of my favourite cities in the world; whether it’s the lantern lit back alleys, the street vendors or the peculiar, yet delicious snacks they sell, there is something about it. It is striking to see such a dynamic capital keep a firm hold of its roots, a trait that the western world seems to have forgotten in the search for economic prosperity. The atmosphere is palpable and the feeling of excitement stays with you, not only throughout your stay in Beijing, it lingers far beyond that. Upon your return home it will take no more than a familiar scent to take you back to the Hutongs.

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