Neon lights, smoke and scents

Alejandra Sola Ávila
August 31, 2016

More than a week in China gives much to think about, although life here is so fast that it’s hard to remember many of the things that have surprised me and, when I finally find some time to tell you about my first impressions, without realizing it, many other things have vanished.

Before setting forth on my grand trip towards the Kingdom of the Middle, one of my last thoughts was that, although being so far away from home, I’d still live under the same sky, the same stars. Remember? The metropolis of Beijing hasn’t allowed me to see them so far, but I can firmly claim I’ve seen the same colors in the sky. Pollution? Not as much as I expected. Light blue with white clouds’ sprinkles has been the backdrop of all these past days, maybe due to the 2016 G20 Summit that will take place in the upcoming days in Hangzhou (province of Zhejiang). Either way, I’m happy I can enjoy the nice weather.

So, September is around the corner, and the intense and dry heat doesn’t seem to want to taper off and that makes me think fall will be nice, but short. From what I’ve heard, fall is the best season to visit Beijing. Temperatures are pleasant and seasonal fruit and vegetables transform the food into something even tastier if possible.

The truth is that the way little similarities emerge from this major city is amazing, even being so far away from Spain. You can also find chestnut sellers in the streets of Beijing (yes, in August!); and people use fans to get rid of the suffocating heat as well. It's like being somewhat closer to a hot evening in Granada. However, I get the impression that digging into the Chinese culture requires, first of all, getting rid of a few prejudices that seem to be attached to us westerners. Second but not last, gathering up the courage to try to understand the very same representatives of this culture, who you will probably not understand (and it’ll also be hard for them to get your Putonghua). Resting on the surface of such different reality to what is known to us is very easy, it could be equally nice, but one doesn’t travel almost 6,000 miles to just visit the Summer Palace or the Great Wall. It’s just such an amazing culture that wraps this country that, I believe it’s worth getting out of your comfort zone and go explore, learn.

When one travels, every place sends out, reflects a kind of light, an aura that makes that place different from a thousand million of other places. I’ve been in gloomy cities, dazzling cities, villages that smelled of peculiar scents, trains, trams, subways, bars, museums and houses and each one of those places was distinct. Beijing’s atmosphere is a mixture of cultures, scents, colors, neon lights that dazzle the pedestrians, car horns and people bargaining, kitchens’smoke. All of that camouflages in the environment, and one can just perceive a wonderful, odd atmosphere.

So, to answer your question, yes, I have visited the Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (it’s a rite of passage). Here are some pictures of my adventures so far!

Thank you all for reading and sharing my experience. There will be much more to come!


艾丽 (Àilì).

Alejandra Sola Ávila

<div>21, from Southern Spain. Translation and Interpreting student in University of Granada.</div>
<div>Now IES Abroad student. Currently living in Beijing and studying in Bei Wai University.&nbsp;</div>
<div>Passionate about books, poetry, cinema, good music and travelling. I believe I was born to travel the world while helping others.</div>
<div>&#39;Not all who wander are lost&#39;.</div>

2016 Fall
Home University:
Universidad de Granada
Chinese Language
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