Inspiration Thursday I: Beijing, China

798 Space

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.
  • Hutongs.
  • 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.


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