Bad Air Day in Beijing

Trip Start Jul 28, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, August 4, 2007

Saturday in Beijing.  The weekend started off to a rough start last night, Friday, as I attempted to take advantage of some of the Beijing nightlife with two classmates, Cameron and Chris, who are also in Beijing for the summer.  Beijing has two great bar areas located in the sections of town called Sanlitun and Back Lake.  After work, I met up with Chris and Cameron, and some of their Beijing friends, in neither of those two places, but a little local outdoor bar called the Hangzhou Snack Department.  This is not so much a bar as an ad-hoc tent set up on the sidewalk with picnic tables.  Anyway, so we were sitting outside at the Hangzhou Snack Department, enjoying catching up over 60-cent beers (actually, Chris and Cameron and their friends were enjoying the 60-cent beers, I was stupid and ordered  an imported $1.60 German beer by accident.)  It was a pretty nice atmosphere, I must say, except for one thing...the one Beijinger who is still loudly spitting his phlegm on the sidewalk was sitting at the next picnic table.  I will spare you the disgusting details of what it was like sitting near this man, but suffice it to say that when he left, there was a visible puddle on the ground next to where he was sitting.  It makes me want to throw up just thinking about it.  But that is quite enough of that.

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.  That's when I decided to call it a night and return to my room at the country, I mean youth hostel.

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.
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diemutter on

Great pics
Keep them coming. Getting a good feel for Beijing. Any previoius of the olympic sites coming?

diemutter on

Police force in action
Nice to see helpful policemen - any of them speaking foreign languages -

diemutter on

What was I thinking
I was thinking about asking you for previews not previous. Silly me. Maybe they should install a windmill farm outside of town to blow the smog away.

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