May 9, 2015
Beijing so so green (in the inner rings)!
One of my biggest surprises has been the amount of lush and green in the cities. Maybe part of this was leaving Ann Arbor, Michigan before there were leaves on the trees, in May no less! But I think my reaction to all the trees and flowers is genuine surprise. I anticipated a sterile or completely concrete city. Instead I found green space in very unexpected places.
Beautiful flowering peach and pink roses as the median on many eight-lane roads running through the center of Beijing. Trees fully arching over many narrower roads. Neighborhood parks with healthy landscaping. Blooming flower beds surrounding bicycle parking on the sidewalks.
While the Beijing I have seen has been incredibly green, compared to my expectations, much of this landscaping is new and does not extend to the whole city. After expressing my surprise to Ann, she said that much of the landscaping was put in for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
A lot of us seemed to be really impressed by all of the green in the city but when a couple students chatted with a local shopkeeper they got a different impression. The shopkeeper told them that only the center of the city is so lush, past the 4th ring road (Beijing has 7 ring roads) the trees and flowers are much, much less.
I guess I wasn’t surprised to learn this, but it did remind me that I can’t understand China from my limited experience in Beijing.
–Lily S, MPP