1) The city is not as industrialized and modern as I thought. I do not believe anything compares to Shanghai, because that is what I am doing in my head now. The air was dusty and foggy. The weather was uncomfortably hot. It definitely did not help with so many people squished into one city. On the streets, cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians constantly collided. They were not real accidents, but near-accidents with how quickly cars flew down the roads and how close pedestrians and bicycles came to these aggressive drivers.
2) Because it was so hot and humid already, I had early onset-allergies. By the end of the first day, I started sneezing and spreading my germs. My nose began to stuff and my eyes itched, classic signs of immediate hypersensitivity! It also did not help that I went to Yi He Yuan, the Summer Gardens that first day, where I was besieged by trees and greenery. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the scenery and Beijing’s Best. Curse you pollen, I did not (and will) not let you ruin my wonderful spring cheers!
3) Never mind the spring, it was summer already. It was warm and green colored the city. And it was raining fluff everywhere, fluff from a type of willow tree there called 柳樹 Liu shu. It was almost mesmerizing, sometimes annoying, to see the raining cotton balls.
4) There were many old people, like OLD people. I saw many wise elders pondering and looking back on their long lives, sitting on street corners. They were also relatively fit people, driving carriages and riding bicycles and walking about. It’s stunning to compare old people in China and old people in America, mostly bumming on couches and getting fat.
5) And lastly, and honestly, I cannot stand the Northern accent. I cannot bear to listen to the rolling “R’s” mainly because I can’t fathom to understand it! It may be the accepted Mandarin, but personally, it’s ugly and vulgar. See, I am a Southerner at heart, with Mom from glorious Shanghai and Dad from Taiwan’s best, Taipei. Kelly and I are somewhere in the middle, mixed in with the American-born Chinese. We have clear accents, somewhere between Shanghainese and Taiwanese. In general, it’s a Southern accent where we do NOT roll our “R’s.” We piss off the Beijing headquarters and the Northern territory with our Mandarin, because to them, it’s not the real Mandarin. To me, it’s the Mandarin I understand and practice. When I watch Taiwanese television shows or the news, THAT’s the Mandarin I accept and love to hear. No big deal, just personal taste =)