China’s intoxicating capital

China’s intoxicating capital

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We probably shouldn’t have giggled when our lovely Beijing guide referred to Adidas as a Chinese brand. The German sportswear label is as much a part of the sensory experience of her city as cigarette smoke and fermented bean porridge.

I remember having a similar feeling when I landed in Los Angeles. The McDonald’s, Starbucks and Hollywood signs that flashed by as I drove to Santa Monica were familiar as the backdrop of at least a dozen movies. The signs were an essential part of the city.

In Beijing, it was the labels Adidas, Gucci, Kappa,
China's intoxicating capital
Burberry, Converse that were everywhere. Again, it felt like a sort of homecoming, or perhaps it was more a feeling of having landed at the control terminal of the universe.

Beijing is a crazy city of contradictions.

High rise apartments beat them to the sun every day, but the lush canopies make Beijing appear green from the ground,
China's intoxicating capital
even though anyone arriving by air will note it’s actually covered with a thick layer of brown gas.

That probably wouldn’t be the case if everyone still rode rickshaws but now for every squeaky old thing there seem to be five shiny Audis.