The size of Beijing is unfathomable to me; the 40 million population of the city exceeds that of my own entire country! First impressions: a crush of people everywhere; towering buildings lit in vibrant colour - purple, pink, neon green; western labels - Tiffany, Calvin Klein, and food chains - Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Starbucks - screaming into the night. KFC rules here, as does Porsche, Audi and Mercedes.
As we circled the airport there was an unmistakable odour of heavy fuel fumes; this smell intensified when we disembarked and began the hour and half foray into the rush hour traffic to get to our hotel. The sky is coated in a thick layer of haze -- and how could it be any other way with the sheer volume of vehicles on the road.
I taste-tested pretty much everything this evening -- and enjoyed about half of it. Not a fan of the corn starch like thickener used in the soup and sauces nor the organ meat. But the fish was delicious and the tiny little pork balls weren't bad either. The traditional schnapps (my word) tasted like tequila but we used it for toasting so I was a trouper.
Off to bed as we will be early to rise. We are off to see the tourist sites - Tienanmen Square and the like - but I think we will forego the traditional congee (rice porridge) for a western style breakfast to start the day and then wing it the rest of the day.
I am a pitiful tourist who can't pronounce "thank you" xia-xia worth a dang!