I went to Beijing after a five year gap.
What a tremendous build-up of infrastructure ! Amazing – when they (Communist Party/Government of PRC) set their mind on something, they go all out and achieve it. Most of the infrastructure was built for the 2008 Olympic Games.
But, somehow, I felt the place was impersonal in almost all aspects. There was no warmth or inviting allure as one can feel in, for example, Vienna or even Singapore.
It looked to me like the desolate place that Moscow was – I don’t know how it looks like these days though.
The traffic is still a bit chaotic in Beijing, not very unlike a Delhi or Bangkok for that matter. Cars kept cutting across the lanes, forcing drivers to brake hard. There were some rude looks exchanged, and there were traffic jams !
Well, with millions of people and cars, it is difficult to achieve world class status easily. Still some way to go.
Most people still struggle with their English. They prefer to be shown a piece of paper with the place name written out in Mandarin for giving directions. I keep reading that China is racing ahead in English language learning, but I did not see evidence.
The other thing I noticed was the confusion at the airport. Not very well organized. My flight was on the tarmac for 50 minutes waiting to take off. Not unlike Mumbai.
All in all, while the money has been poured, the heart is not functioning well I guess. Propaganda is required, Singapore style !
22nd July 2010
Hong Kong Airport