17 Jul

The Sony Asia Pacific IT conference meant I got a trip to Beijing.

This city is huge… population count over 20,000,ooo. It was the middle of summer so most days were 37-38 C (100F).

The conference itself was pretty good this year and we got to check out some tourist spots like the Great Wall:

and the Forbidden Palace:

The summer palace:

Olympic Games site:

Judging by the traditional hat, this guy was a Beijing local:

Most of the Sony people had left by Sunday/Monday, I extended the trip till Wednesday and checked in to a 400 year old Hutong which was cheaper that the hotels and a lot better way to experience the city. These residences are basically 4 houses that back on to each other to form a shared square courtyard in the middle, some famous Chinese dudes had owned this one, now it is owned by a political party and about half of it is leased and run as a hotel.

the same place from the outside. The girls bike parked by the door was mine, they had free bikes that you could borrow if you were keen to negotiate the Beijing traffic:

One night when I was heading back to the hotel and needed to get through a pedestrian mall that was jam-packed with people 4000+ , (I don’t think you were meant to take bikes through there.) I was about to hop off and try to walk it when a cop car turned up & put its lights on, I thought they were going to tell me off but seemed that they just wanted to get through, so I pulled in behind the car and rode through, the locals didn’t quite know what was happening and were all staring at me, probably wondering who this foreigner was and why he had a police escort to get him through the crowd.

An issue with riding was finding your bike again when it was time to go home:

I went to the electronics markets which were massive and had a crazy atmosphere. probably about 5-10 huge multi level buildings, each floor with 200+ vendors selling/fixing all kinds of stuff. Out in the street wasn’t much different, stacks of 50 boxed up new computers on the side of the road, people loading them on to scooters or whatever transport they could find.

Also went to a place called ‘798 Art Zone’ which is an old Soviet/Chinese military factory complex and is now Beijing’s Dashanzi art district. Although most of it was closed by the time I got there (~9pm) there was a still bars cafes etc open and plenty of outdoor painting/sculptures to check out, no tripod so my photos were a bit hit and miss:

Full sized bumble bee Autobot Vs. Giant tattooed baby:

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