Up Gallery » Trip to China 2008 » Beijing

We all gave a joint-recital at the Beijing Conservatory for the major faculty and other musical notables of the city. Then, our work done, we were on our own. We had expected enormous pollution. But, in fact, two or our sunniest days of the entire three weeks were in Beijing - with a short, but wild thunderstorm in the middle of it all.

Beijing is very different from Shanghai. The city is laid out along broad boulevards, with The Avenue of Eternal Peace leading to Tiananmen Square as its focal point, and a series of ring roads. The very center is more or less devoid of skyscapers - one can find them further out - and the aforementioned boulevards are redolent of the elegance found in many European capitals. Beijing has enormous amounts of traffic, as do all the major cities in China today. One can only guess what it must have been like in the not-too-distant past, when the streets were lined more with bikes than with cars.

Interesting juxtapositions can be seen at every turn. There's a Starbucks now at the bottom of The Great Wall in Badaling. Yet, one still sees vestiges of Old Beijing - the famous hutongs (胡同), with their tiny siheyuans(四合院), narrow streets, and intimate social networks - not far from the Forbidden City. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of power just as we got to one of these hutongs, and I wasn't able to capture any pictures of this wonderful, and vanishing, world.

Central Beijing
Tiananmen Square
Forbidden City
Yuanmingyuan
Olympic Village
Great Wall
Trip Back to Beijing
Our Hotel and Tea House
Goodbye to Beijing

© Craig Sheppard, 2008