In 2008, just following the Olympics, I spent 11 days in Beijing.
While I won’t say it was my favorite trip (I will list why below), I did come across some surprises that I still find visually inspiring.
First, the bad:
- I knew maybe 4 words of the language. Everyone else knew 0 words of my language.
- They don’t use addresses, just descriptions of locations. Even pointing at a map doesn’t necessarily get your taxi to where you want to go.
- I got the sense that not only the designer bags are knockoffs, but some of the retold history is fabricated as well.
- Squat toilets. ‘Nuf said.
Now, the good:
- There is a thriving artist community in and around the city. 798 Space is a more touristy venue, but great to visit, nonetheless. I actually spent 2 days here. It’s a converted factory property, now hosting work spaces, galleries, and cafes. I also took an adventure to Yi Hao Di (I think!) and was the sole patron in an international collection of gallery shows. It was beyond the 5th ring road, and I was lucky enough to catch a ride back to town with a kind local woman.
- Artifacts and history dating back thousands of years. It’s pretty amazing.
- Great architecture.
- The food is incredible.
- Getting around is CHEAP!
- Massage and relaxation are valued. Getting a foot or full-body rub-down includes snacks and a private room, and again, is CHEAP.
Anyway, I unearthed a bunch of photos from the trip from which you designers and travelers might glean some inspiration.
- More pics on flickr.