The pure awesomeness of today requires some introduction. So, here goes.
Today I went to Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan), and had the best experience of my vacation in Beijing. Indeed, it should count as one of the best days of my life. I took a gondola ride up a mountain, stood where an Emperor once did, and even wailed at the Sun Yatsen Memorial. Yet its awesomeness was only increased when considering how Xingshan was bookended by horrible, horrible times.
I woke up feeling very ill. I have been feeling worse every day, and it increased to being barely functional last night and early today AM. Indeed, I probably feel worse now.
The reason is air pollution. I was chatting with Biz of Trumpy Productions (read his tdaxp reviews of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and The Partly Cloudy Patriot about this earlier today, I informed him of facts such as
- The dust from the burning of soft coal coats the city like a tattered old blanket. Breathing Beijing air for a day, concluded a recent study, is the equivalent of smoking three packs of unfiltered cigarettes.
- the air is really hazy. We had to get through this stuff our entire time in Beijing, and it takes time for your lungs to adjust. At other times, we realized the city was literally being covered in light dust, evident by the dirt that kept collecting on our faces and sandaled feet and the always absent sky
- The pollution in Beijing is considerable.. the city seemed to be fogged in with some kind of haze… If you have respiratory problems, be aware of this! Sitting in traffic is the worst…
This was just absent from the Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan) park. High above the city, one could look down at the smog bowl and realize how terrible it was. It’s one thing feeling the carbon monoxide eat away at one’s life as an incompetent cabby gets lost on the fifth ring road (as would happen later in the day) — it’s another thing to realize you can’t even see the downtown.
Anyway, enough bitching about the pollution. I know it’s a problem, so I will manage my health as best I can. Fragrant Hills was amazing, and the pictures today are all about the beauty and glory of Xiang Shan.
Closer View. In the center, an old sketch (of the emperor?) is visibile. I imagine Catholicgauze would paint icons of noted Saints here…