Day 2 - Haidian District
I'm currently here in China for work-related activities, and thus needed to crack on with work early this morning. A 2km walk from my hotel, is the Environmental Sciences building of Tsinghua University, in the heart of the large Haidian district. I always appreciate greenery, especially when said greenery apparently envelopes the man-made structure within.
Visibility is as poor as yesterday, and here's why. There is a lot of water vapour in the air, which condenses onto the aerosol particles. The particles thus become a little larger, and scatter light even more. It's almost like being in a very fine cloud. If there were fewer particles, more water may condense onto a given particle and it would fall to the ground as a droplet. Even though we have actually had some rain, there are too many particles to remove in such processes. It's making every photo look as though I've completely messed up the in-camera settings. There is simply just too much scattering - all of these photos are even taken with a circular polariser fitted to the end of my lens!
The poor visibility certainly gives the photos a certain "look" . I don't know if it's possible to get instagram in china (it's probably not), but it's not needed in Beijing. All my photos look retro here.
I can read quite a lot here in Beijing. What I can't read, I either guess or just ignore. The Chinese writing system has changed over the years, and the oldest scriptures are the easiest for me to read, as they are the same characters as used today in Japan. The Chinese have since moved onto simplified scripts, though not in Taiwan.
Unlike Japan, and Tokyo in particular, many buildings in Beijing are well over 50 years old. The reason is twofold. Firstly, there are far, far fewer earthquakes here in Beijing than in Japan. And secondly, Beijing wasn't mostly turned to rubble by firebombing from the Allied Forces in WWII.
For dinner I ventured into the centre of the Haidian district, in search of noodles.
It rained again.
I've not been here long, but I have noticed a few things about the Chinese people:
- Extremely friendly
- They don't drink cold water (it's served hot)
- They don't stare at foreigners, and will speak to you in Chinese first
- Completely ignore traffic signals (observe below)
As I was devouring my noodles, a very pleasant chap came and sat down opposite me. He started talking about the weather, probably. I wouldn't know, as he was speaking in Chinese. I only know how to say "hello" and "thank you", so I didn't get very far. It turns out that he studied French in school (as did I), and so we conversed in the best French we could muster. No doubt if an actual french person were nearby they'd cringe in horror, but it got the job done. Surreal. He asked me if I had "QQ". I said no. I said we use Facebook outside of China. He said he didn't know what it was. I'd finally found someone who doesn't know Facebook.
C'est la vie.