Recently Beijing had a full week of truly blue skies – amazing! Blue sky days bring hope to the grey days. Blue sky days are a reminder that grey is not the way life should be.
After ten years living in the thick air of Beijing, I still remember not only what smog looks like, but what it FEELS like. There are physical consequences to breathing smog (which I suspect has affected my health more than I care to know), but there is also an emotional impact to living in a darkened world.
Qingdao is a coastal city 550km (340 mi) southeast of Beijing. I wasn’t there as a tourist but enjoyed looking at the ocean, especially the seaside boardwalk. Though it was strange to watch an entire ocean disappear into a greyish smog haze.
It can be a little hard to get things done during the Chinese new year holiday week. Many people leave town, and many businesses close. A normally full bike lane had a grand total of three bikes. It looked strange, almost eerie.
China welcomed me back with the smell of pollution, as always, and just one day in I could feel the changes in my sinuses and my breathing. Also, I kept wanting to say the Khmer word for thank you. I have never defaulted to Khmer before!
Cigarettes are big business in China, which is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco. There are more than 300 million smokers in China. Over 60% of men over 45 smoke, and about 55% of men in general.
While I’ve already written about the bad air in Beijing lately, I compared the air quality I recorded in Oct/Nov ’12 with January’s air. I am thankful for my air purifier, but horrified by how this must be affecting an entire generation of Chinese.
Beijing’s bad air is now international news. Articles about last weekend’s horrific conditions sprung up all over the place. Yes, it really was that bad. In the past two weeks we had 6 days in the hazardous range, with one day’s average off the scale.
I came to China for a year, but it took me 6 to decide I was staying. This place is the first place I made a real home. Buying a Christmas tree was a symbol that I really was home – I didn’t have to grow up or go back to Australia, I was home HERE.