Saturday, November 30, 2013

Awesome Asia Adventure Days #7-10 - Making the Best of It

Fashion Forward Face Masks
We knew it would be bad just before the wheels touched the ground.

Rewind about 10 hours.

Dinner was over and we were somewhere over the north Pacific. It was pitch black outside so I cleaned up and curled up for a good night's sleep. About six hours later I woke up somewhere over China and peeked out the window to see what looked like a beautiful sunrise. Except that it was a sunset!

After the meal (I don't remember if they served breakfast or dinner) we started our descent into Beijing. At about 2,000 feet I noticed a faint odor similar to an over heated clutch (I know that smell because I have a 17 year old who is learning to drive). The wheels touched and looking outside as we taxied to the terminal it appeared as though a light fog was blanketing the airport. But it wasn't fog I was smelling and seeing, it's the notorious pollution. We could even see it inside the massive airport, a heaviness to the air.

It was still there (obviously) when we returned a few days later. It is not a huge factor for a tourist, but by the third day we noticed some irritation in our throats. I'm sure living with it is a big deal, but I'm equally sure that once China decides to clean it up they will do it and do it quickly. One of the advantages of a command society is that decisions can be made and resources mobilized quickly.

We also saw evidence that the Chinese can make the best of a difficult situation when they have to. I'm sure the genesis of eating scorpions and centipedes was rooted in hardship. Likewise, the stylish face masks that we saw Beijingers wearing around town were an opportunity to make a fashion forward statement in a difficult situation.

12 million people going about their lives, comporting themselves with humor and grace.

So in the end, not so bad.


"No man lives without jostling and being jostled; in all ways he has to elbow himself through the world, giving and receiving offense. And that's just the bike messengers."
     -- Unknown

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