Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Greetings from Beijing

The 2008 Olympics in Beijing are only 78 days away. And although I've yet to see any of the venues, this Asian City is in the final months of getting ready for their big global summer sports party that begins August 8.

This is my first visit to Asia, and after being in Beijing for only 24 hours, I've come up with a few impressions:
The air is not what I'm accustomed to in the Pacific Northwest. Although not as bad as I thought it would be, many of the outdoor workers wear masks to avoid inhaling all the dirty little particles. My eyes sting, and on a sunny day, you can't see forever.

The people are friendly. Being of Nordic heritage, I get a lot of stares and nobody has asked me for directions. But from the cab driver at Beijing Capital International Airport to the staff at
The Peninsula, they're a friendly bunch.

There's no shortage of faulous food!

I was in Mexico City and New York City in the past month, and Beijing feels much less hectic with less traffic and people walking on the streets. There's a zen-like sense here, which I didn't expect.

It's not intimidating. Outside of all the vendors coming up on the streets trying to sell you everything from cheap jewelry and personal tours, I feel comfortable here. This morning my husband and I visited The Forbidden City, and although we were one of only a few non-Asians awaiting the ticket booth to open at 8:30AM (many more Europeans and Australians are here), we felt welcome in this country called China.
The world will be watching Beijing this summer.

A sign on a downtown Beijing building
Photo by Sue Frause