Arriving in Běijīng (2008-05-13)

May 12 we were in the United States of America, and May 13 we were in the People's Republic of China for three weeks of vacation (with no visa trouble). Two airplanes and a taxi brought us to Běijīng, to Xiyuan Villa. On the way the language around us changed from English to Japanese (changing planes in Tokyo) to Mandarin.

Běijīng smells burnt. That's my first impression as I sit in the speeding taxi. It's an official Běijīng taxi, from the taxi stand rather than the salesman inside, but still it has no seat belts. The impression of burning stays with me for a week. The back of my throat and my eyes burn. A business associate later says he smokes only in Běijīng. Since he's going to inhale smoke anyway, he says, it might as well taste good. He also doubts the seat belts would save me from anything.

[Added explanatory links.]

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