Been in Beijing since Saturday. What an amazing city. A mixture of old and new. Vibrant, dirty, exciting, a little dangerous; all kinds of mix feelings when you walk around Beijing.
I did the usual tourist thing, by visiting the Forbidden City, Tianamen Square and the Temple of Heaven. But Beijing has more than just these obvious tourist spots. The 'Hutong' is marvellous. Some are small and dodgy, but some is full of culture and life. (Hutong is small lanes around Beijing)
The people here seems resilient. While back home in Malaysia people are panicking about the Milk fiasco, here the people just avoid drinking milk for the moment, and move on. (Starbucks here use soy milk in replacement) The Government has sacked the Governor of the district, where the said milk factory is located (Something Malaysian Government can learn about - accountability), and the Directors of that Company is likely to face heavy charges from the Government.
The Country is so huge and have 1.3 billion people. To put into perspective:-
Malaysia = 25,000,000 estimated people
China = 1,300,000,000 people.
China has 52 times more people than Malaysia. I now realise how difficult it must be to govern the Country. Imagine all 1.3 billion people switch on electricity or tap water at the same time...
Interestingly around 8% are muslim, which totals to around 100million people. So there are more Chinese Muslims in China than all muslims totalled up in Malaysia... interesting :) The currency reflects the muslims population, as the Chinese currency RMB, has Jawi writings on it,other than Chinese characters and English.
The people here sometimes speak very loudly, but whole heartedly. It seems when they speak to one another, they speak from their heart. Of course there are people still spitting here and there; and while most of the Public Toilets are very clean, some are just... well less said better.
Back to the places to visit. One has to walk around the inner streets to take in the city. As I cannot speak Mandarin, my travel has been a fairly silent one, in the midst of the noisy City. It would have been nice to have some friends or a partner as I was strolling the wonderful and romantic Temple of Heaven, but I suppose that is the price I pay for being a difficult person to be with.
Shopping too, is great. The prices here are either very much more expensive than in Malaysia, or dirt cheap. Examples - Kellogs Corn Flakes here is RMB 60 and in Malaysia, less than RM15. (RMB 2 = RM1). But cufflinks here one is RMB 10 - 20, sometimes up to RMB 100. In Malaysia,?? Well guys who buy cufflinks back home will know that what I quoted above is very cheap.
One cant speak about Beijing without mentioning the Olympics. The Olympic stadiums especially the new ones are fantastic. True engineering class.
My friend Will Fung and his wife have been a superb host. We were friends when we took office of the Young Lawyers Committee back in 2005. We miss Will's energy in the Bar, but our loss is China's gain. Will is a super lawyer here. He's got good legal skills, wonderful PR and has massive foresight when working. He's condo is a cosy and nice place, not too far away from town. As I see him walk around his new spanking office, where he is a partner (in a Large Beijing firm) I felt the sense of pride that one of us is making it big in Beijing.
As for the weather, really funny!! On Saturday, Will and I were walking around in shorts and t-shirts, and by Wednesday (yesterday) Beijing was cold. Had to put on a jacket over and above the long sleeve shirt. Amazing - in 5 days, the weather turned from warm to cold.
I've been walking around everyday since Saturday and today, I am gonna take a break. Will be going to Great Wall tomorrow.