beijing is a huge, sprawling city. we were fooled by the tiny map given to us by our shangri-la hotel concierge. it looked like everything was near each other and within walking distance (in 10°C weather—not!!!), but the truth is wherever we went, it took about 30 minutes to get from point A to point B. but they have good roads and well-designed freeways, but watch out for rush hour. the city is a schizophrenic mix of ancient, iconic structures (forbidden city, tiananmen square, etc), boxy 70s-style buildings, and jaw-dropping modern architecture (olympic stadiums, more below). it's clean and orderly but polluted, no thanks to the frenetic pace of construction everywhere, all of which will stop months before the olympics begin, in order to freshen up the air. some random scenes: funny sign beside a tired-looking bronze elephant
the palace inside the forbidden city was fenced in and wrapped in scaffolding—in preparation for the deluge of tourists next year, we presume
lovely tree-lined lake outside the forbidden city
we've never seen this coke before
the only starbucks we saw and it isn't even open yet
the provincial road leading to the great wall
CCTV, the "pants" building designed by rem koolhaas. when we arrived they were not yet connected. by the time we left, they were!
when the building on the right—the china world trade center—is done, it will be the tallest building in beijing at 73 floors