Bad Air Day in Beijing
Trip Start Jul 28, 2007
35Trip End Ongoing
The air outside wasn't that great on Friday, so after about two hours of sitting outside at the Hangzhou Snack Department, we decided to go to one of the established bars in one of the established nightlife sections of town. Our group split into two, half of us heading to Sanlitun, the other half heading to Back Lake. Sanlitun is a few streets of back-to-back bars and at peak times, like Friday night, partiers spill out into the streets and make a massive block party. I was happy that this was going on, because every time I tried to enter a Sanlitun bar, I was knocked in the face by a wall of second-hand smoke. Never in my life have I met people who chain-smoke as much as in Beijingers. Being allergic to cigarette smoke, the bars were all, unfortunately, off-limits to me. So instead, I just hung out outside in the block party and my friends ferried drinks to me outside (I should note that by this point I had switched to orange juice because I had had my fill of alcohol, which is one beer, at the Hangzhou Snack Department. I'm a lightweight, what can I say? It was a big beer.)
Nevertheless, there were a lot of people chain-smoking outside in Sanlitun too, and I really hit a wall when I had to go inside a bar to use the ladies room and had to wait on line for 10 minutes breathing in such thick smoke that my nose was completely stuffed up by the time I came out
So I wasn't feeling so well Friday night when I went to sleep. When I woke up Saturday morning, there was cigarette smoke filtering into my room through the vents. I guess because it was a weekend, more people were around and smoking in their rooms, common areas, etc. I went and told the reception people the problem and they said they'd take care of it. Relieved, I returned to my room only find that they had sprayed air freshener. That was their solution. Feeling like I was suffocating, I decided I needed to get out of the hostel. My office being closed for the weekend, and restaurants and cafes being smoky too, the only place I could think of to go was outside. It wasn't the best option, but it was the only option. I ended up having another interesting day romping around the city, peeking my head into nooks and alleys and learning more and more about Beijing. Please refer to the picture section for details of what I saw.