Beijing wasn't on my itinery originally, so I wasn't able to do my usual due-diligence in terms of researching what I should go see and what-not. Fortunately, I had a really good professional tour-guide (professional as in he was licensed by the state... ah, the sweet stench of beaurucracy) who personally showed me around.

If I can give you one piece of advice about visiting Beijing, it would be to NOT go there during the summer months. I hear it gets really cold in the winter, so you might want to avoid winter as well; but I can definitely tell you summer is pure hell on earth. For example, the Forbidden City is just one huge stone oven. There are no shades and you just stand in the middle of all that stone floor, slowly baking, rotisserie-style.

The three days I was there, I was able to see all the major historic sights, but you won't see any of those photos here. One, they are boring. Two, the sky was horribly polluted hazy everyday and so most of the photos turned out looking unsaturated and washed out.

What struck me the most, as I visited these storied, lengendary, historical places that I have read about and heard about growing up was how un-awe-inspiring they were. They didn't feel or look like they were built hundreds and hundreds of years ago, they look like they were hastily built 20 years ago with a limited buget and even more limited expertise. The best way I can describe them is that they feel like cheap Chinese knock-offs of the real thing. How ironic. There's a lot the Chinese could learn about the fine-art of preservation.

Copyright © Liao Yusheng.