Beijing is notorious for its severe air pollution. This photo was taken in August from my hotel at the Second Ring and Jianguomen Ave. Unfortunately, it looks like this every day!
Beijing has over 3 million cars. Among them, more than 2 million are privately-owned passenger cars. Divided by household number (based on hukou), it means every household in Beijing has a car. In preparing for the 2008 Olympics, Beijing exercised an “only-half-of-cars-running” policy as an experiment. From Aug. 17th to 20th, only odd- or even-numbered cars, based on license plate number, can drive on streets. That means the traffic was reduced by at least one million cars during those four days. But I didn’t see much improvement in the air quality.
There is a “hidden paradise” in the outskirts of Beijing called “The Orchard,” located just outside of the Fifth Ring near Airport Road.
Essentially, it’s a restaurant in the midst of an orchard farm, offering the best Italian food you can ever find. Its Chinese-meets-Tuscany styled interior gives a sense of exoticness. Although far away from the city, the water in the pond still looks pretty mucky. This secret garden is developed by a couple (the wife is an American). In addition to the restaurant, the couple makes furniture and clothes. The taxi driver told me they are making hundreds of millions every year!