Coming directly from Tokyo to Beijing is a bit of a culture shock. Actually, I’ll be perfectly honest, being used to the impeccable cleanliness of Japanese streets and the politeness of Japanese people, I was taken aback when I stepped outside the metro station, not far from the Forbidden City in the middle of Beijing. From the people pushing through each other when entering the metro train and the greyish sky and muggy air outside, to the run down one-story residences and buildings in disrepair (my hotel was located in a traditional hutong – a narrow alley typical of old Beijing), the city did not make a great first impression.
Not to mention the massive and repetitive towers, rising from the dense fog (or smog?) like the great specters of China’s urbanization, as the express train made it into the city. But I have to keep in mind that this is just the beginning of my journey through a country that transformed literally overnight.