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Old 01-23-2013, 07:46 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
24,683 posts, read 45,473,716 times
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Severe sandstorm plagues Beijing, China - YouTube

 
Old 01-23-2013, 09:15 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,952,131 times
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We were in Beijing in 2009. The pollution was so bad that the streetlights came on at noon. I took a picture of what looks like nighttime with my watch reading 11:30AM.

The Olympic area is crumbling and rusting. There are dozens of empty office towers due to over-building. There's the giant burnt-out TV tower. The subway is extensive but goes nowhere interesting, so you still end up walking for miles to get anywhere. The scammers and touts are thicker than almost anywhere else in the world. Most everything is clearly fake.

On the upside, there are lots of attractions to see (if the smog clears out for a day) such as the summer palace/lake, the forbidden city, the great wall (nearby), and some limited nightlife (mostly bars or small clubs with overpriced drinks attended by foreigners and local rich kids along with their escorts).

I recommend anyone going to China visit Beijing in the way that I recommend anyone going to India visit Delhi. You should experience the good with the bad, and there's plenty of both in Beijing.
 
Old 01-23-2013, 09:45 AM
 
6,730 posts, read 6,623,196 times
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To be fair, the pollution has something to do with the climate too.
In winter, north China is extremely dry and dusts accumulate. In addition, sometimes the cold air from Mongolia and warm air from the sea form a "temperature inversion layer of the air" which causes smog too. North America and Europe do not have the same climate pattern as China has.
 
Old 01-23-2013, 09:48 AM
 
6,730 posts, read 6,623,196 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
We were in Beijing in 2009. The pollution was so bad that the streetlights came on at noon. I took a picture of what looks like nighttime with my watch reading 11:30AM.
It may not ONLY be pollution.

My hometown in southwest China has pretty good air quality. However in winter it is extremely gloomy and the average sun shine hours in January are less than 30 hours. The day starts at noon because the whole morning will be foggy and dark.
 
Old 01-23-2013, 10:35 AM
 
Location: In the heights
22,222 posts, read 23,735,900 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fibonacci View Post
You will choke on the smog. Beijing probably has some of the worst pollution out of all the cities that I've ever been. China's economy grows so fast due to the fact that they simply don't give a sh*t about the environment. At some point, a breaking point will be reached when industry has grown so rapidly without any restrictions at all that there will be no clean drinking water left or clean air to breathe. Even outside of Beijing, China tends to have horrible air quality because many parts of the country are vastly polluted due to unrestrained industrial growth and the insistence on owning a car even though you live in a country with over a billion people.
To be fair though, that was also pretty much true for the US and elsewhere when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing up until the massive growth of conservation/environmentalism movements through the 60s onwards. Cities like Pittsburgh got titles like "Hell with the lid off", the Cuyanhoga River in Cleveland was on fire, still have a crapload of superfund sites still in existence and in need of cleanup. I know old New Yorkers with stories about just how sooty and dirty the city was as well as multiple toxic cleanups in the gowanus and newton creek and elsewhere, and you can imagine part of why people wanted to move out to the suburbs as quickly as possible. Too bad China didn't learn from that mistake yet, but there is a growing movement there as the problem has become very obvious.
 
Old 01-23-2013, 06:37 PM
 
Location: Columbus, Ohio
1,413 posts, read 3,879,662 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Although it has tons of history, it seems that many people think Beijing is dirty, polluted, dull and sort of lifeless compared to Seoul, Shanghai or Tokyo, even though it's modernised a lot, and offers as much of a cultural experience as those other cities, nightlife to match, and many interesting districts. It's subway is also pretty good, actually. How many have been to Beijing and what were your opinions? I went in winter so it was very cold, but i was impressed by the sights. More modern than I thought with horrendous traffic. I loved the hutongs, I hope they don't tear them all down.

To me it is more about the country it is in. It is hard to like a city that is part of an oppresive govt, that has no respect for the poor, or human rights.

Also, the smog and general dirtyness of the city for me.
 
Old 01-23-2013, 06:47 PM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
3,080 posts, read 9,952,131 times
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I agree that the pollution is a by-product of industrialization. However, being that we know things now that we didn't know when the west industrialized, you'd think that a centrally-planned economy could do a better job of limiting the environmental and humanitarian damage. Well, you'd also think Communism was a viable system of governance, but clearly you'd be wrong on both counts.

I also agree with Momo. My biggest issue with travelling in China is the oppressive presence of the government. Understanding Mandarin, it was really creepy to watch the official news channels, listen to people warn each other not to say certain things over cell phone or even in daily conversation. If you understand what's going on, and compare it to other E/SE Asian countries, China is a whole different world, and it surprises us not at all that they are so close to despotic citizen-murdering regimes like NKorea and Syria. But this is not specific to Beijing. However, I would advise anyone planning to visit China to keep their eyes open and their mouths shut both before and during their visit.
 
Old 01-24-2013, 05:22 AM
 
32,140 posts, read 33,051,397 times
Reputation: 14986
Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
We were in Beijing in 2009. The pollution was so bad that the streetlights came on at noon. I took a picture of what looks like nighttime with my watch reading 11:30AM.

The Olympic area is crumbling and rusting. There are dozens of empty office towers due to over-building. There's the giant burnt-out TV tower. The subway is extensive but goes nowhere interesting, so you still end up walking for miles to get anywhere. The scammers and touts are thicker than almost anywhere else in the world. Most everything is clearly fake.

On the upside, there are lots of attractions to see (if the smog clears out for a day) such as the summer palace/lake, the forbidden city, the great wall (nearby), and some limited nightlife (mostly bars or small clubs with overpriced drinks attended by foreigners and local rich kids along with their escorts).

I recommend anyone going to China visit Beijing in the way that I recommend anyone going to India visit Delhi. You should experience the good with the bad, and there's plenty of both in Beijing.
On my visit to Beijing during the October Chinese festival/holiday week of 2011, I found all the tourist attractions to be jam-packed. My colleague and I were completely physically crushed and couldn't move an inch on our own while waiting to buy admission to the Forbidden City, but once inside it was a great place to visit. We also were taken to a pearl buying showroom at the former Olympic basketball stadium and it was in good shape. The Beijing subway was easy to use as all the signs were bilingual Chinese-English and there was also buses connecting to the subway system that were convenient if one got instructions in advance which routes to use.

From my experience, I would advise foreign tourists not to visit Beijing during the first week of October, but otherwise visiting Beijing was a great experience.
 
Old 01-24-2013, 01:46 PM
 
Location: The Big O
590 posts, read 664,907 times
Reputation: 435
I have spent a lot of time in Beijing during the past 15 years and I agree with 95% of the previous comments - both positive and negative. For visiting, I think Beijing has one additional advantage: many of the must-see sights are within walking distance and are connected to each other. For example, a full day beginning at the huge QianMen pedestrian street connects to the Tiananman Square area, which connects to the Forbidden City, which is next to the most famous pedestrian street "WangFuJing".
 
Old 01-26-2013, 04:38 PM
 
55 posts, read 98,011 times
Reputation: 18
Because all the South East Asians on here are jealous. I'd be jealous myself if I hailed from Manila.
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