Saturday, October 15, 2005

Flagrant hills

Ah such a nice morning I though - let's gather a posse and head up into them there Fragrant Hills - it being the time of year for going to the aformentioned park to "look at red leaves" (direct translation). Posse duly gathered, we got onto the bus, little knowing of the arduous journey that lay ahead.

The Fragrant Hills park lies to the North West of Beijing, not too far from the Summer Palace (Yi He Yuan) and Old Summer Palace (Yuan Ming Yuan), and was part of the slew of Imperial pleasure grounds that stretched across the hills in that area. It is definitely a) not far and b) not difficult to get to, though today's journey seemed otherwise.

Whent he bus pulled up at the stop, everyone knew it was going to be one of those journeys. A one-and-a-half length bendy-bus (not a latin verb) that had seen better days was ram-packed full of sweaty commuters and sightseers; nonetheless, after a littel goading and prodding, the conductor managed to make room for all of us inbetween the obese man and the obviously sick and coughing man; but at least we were off. Five minutes down the road, we entered the traffic jam that would not stop until we reached the access road to the gate of the park. Some traffic jam, considering we started many kilometres from the destination.

To cut a long story short, our heroes endured 1.5 hours of standing (except for Melissa who was offered a seat by the obese man after he found he could not fit in it), being coughed over, being crushed by sweaty unwashed masses, children vomiting and the aftereffects thereof and the tedium of the tortoise pace of the traffic.

The jam was so bad becuase of several factors: the 1000 extra cars on the Beijing roads each day; the fact that everyone thought they'd take said cars to the Fragrant Hills for fun today; the narrow and potted roads and finally broken down buses.

In the end, everyone on the bus got out and walked when we were within a mile or so of the front gate. It was a truly sweaty and horrible experience, and a good example of why people should invest in anti-perspirant deodourant companies in China before they come onto the market here.

However, I had a good long chat with Laure about the state of the nation. Not that this cheered either of us up much!

Remarkably, on the way out of the park, I saw that someone had managed to get a Humvee up to the gates. I didn't realise that Humvees were sold here - but if they are and they take off, they alone could be the sole main cause of air pollution in Beijing within a short period of time!


Post a Comment

<< Home