A Travellerspoint blog

Zach's Impression of Beijing/China

Beijing is definitely happening. The streets are crowded, there are endless buildings with very impressive architecture, and the only other city that seems comparable is NYC. Public transportation and bike access are great and I think some US cities could definitely learn a few things from the way things are run here. Preparations for the olympics are intense and I can't imagine how crazy its going to be here come this time next year, a fiasco at best.

Understanding the political/government system here in China has proved to be very intriguing and sometimes even disturbing. I've definitely learned a lot about this peculiar system.

All in all its been a really enjoyable and educational trip so far, though I can't wait to get to our final destination already!

Posted by zmorris 22:38 Comments (0)

Moscow: First Impressions


View Summer 2007 on tnichols's travel map.

Moscow seems to be a city of both incredible beauty and incredible decay. Even in their own right the huge apartment complexes are rather dingy, but after the fierce colors of St. Basil's or the Kremlin's many gold-topped cathedrals it's even more startling. The billboards also have incredible swathes of color, but the average buildings and people themselves aren't so brightly arrayed. It's an interesting contrast.
Moscow is also more European than I had anticipated, menus in English, the expensive mall, some of the pop culture. The food shows other influences though: sushi, Chinese-like dumplings, and of course the wonderful Georgian cuisine. The metro is lovely but very mechanical. Most stations are marble, and some also have chandeliers or stained glass, but people never look up. I suppose that's universal though, you take beauty for granted. The metro however is really fun to ride, just odd because people are very blank. No smiles.
Outside of the metro though, we've met a lot of very friendly people at Moscow State University. Their english is very good; it makes me feel bad that I know extremely little Russian in return. I know they don't really expect it, but in some ways I wish they did. I feel sometimes that people make too many allowances for Americans or are just too accept our ignorance. Really, I just wish the American education system held us to a higher standard that the rest of the world seems to follow.
Overall, Moscow is an interesting but intimidating palce. So many unfamiliar names and events, particular customs, and the language. However, many parts of it are still so very beautiful to the eye and ear. And in this case at least (and for the amount of time we've spent), that's enough for the mind.

Posted by tnichols 22:29 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

First Impressions of Beijing

sunny

When walking the streets of Beijing, it is exactly how I pictured China to look and feel- if not even better. The culture is amazing. The architecture and the temples we have seen so far are absolutely beautiful. I'm curious if the fact that us coming the summer before the 2008 Olympics helped because of all the restoration projects to improve the look of the city. Aside from the older buliding in the traditional style, it's interesting to see the modern buildings with unique but distinctively Chinese designs. I really enjoy how the city is set up, especially with the lakes and the surrounding buildings. These smaller areas of shops and restaurants, as well as parks, help to make the city seem less overwhelming in size.

Posted by ntoney 22:21 Archived in China Comments (0)

First Impressions of Moscow

sunny

When we first arrived in Moscow, we were moved surprisingly quickly through the customs officials and began our trek to the hotel. The check-in to the hotel was a good preview to how our communication with the vast majority of the Russian population would go. We didn't know much Russian, they didn't know much English- enough said. After getting ourselves situated, we decided to wander around and try and find dinner. In walking around the areas by the hotel, I found that the city was a lot different than I had expected it to be. It was a lot cleaner- and definitely a lot larger than I was expecting. When you tell people you're going to Moscow, you get a mix of opinions about the country. What I was expecting to find was largely based on these opinions of other people.

The city though, is dramatically different than the country side (Lake Baikal). The city is fast-paced and expensive with large buildings and catherdals as far as the eye can see. The country side has a more simple atmosphere, and the people are more willing to talk with you. I preferred the lake much more than Moscow. The architecture and the culture was amazing to see- especially when you are able to compare it to the exact opposite way of life in Siberia.

Posted by ntoney 22:10 Archived in Russia Comments (0)

Beijing

Beijing is...WOW.

It is truly unbelievable to be sitting in the midst of this enormous, booming, modern city, that has really only become what it is within the last 10-20 years. The people here, I must say, are overall much more friendly and enthusiastic than those of Russia, and I feel much more at ease here for some reason. In Russia, we all seemed to notice that smiling was a rarity, and while it may not seem like a big deal, it really makes a big contribution to the effect the city has upon you. In China, people smile--alot, at that--and it really makes for a much more positive atmosphere.

Of course, it is puzzling to me because while I feel happier here, I am very well aware of some dark undertones as well. Police are everywhere, and I still can't help but feel uneasy that in Tienamen Square, not a single sign memorializes or even acknlowedges the tragedy that occurred there. So, there is yet again, just as in Moscow, a contrast. I suppose contrast is everwhere, but these two cities certainly serve as great examples.

The history in this city is remarkable, and I love that the amazing buildings and palaces of the past are intact and in such great shape. Of course, this makes for quite a swarm of tourists nearly every famous place one goes, but it is quite worth the business to see such sites. And, most of all, I cannot wait for our trip to the Great Wall!

Overall, the experience here in Beijing has been incredibly positive--the people, the sites, the sounds, the food, and just the overall feeling. I can't wait to see how it compares to Mongolia...

Posted by istol 21:59 Archived in China Comments (0)

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