AIR POLLUTION SEEMS to be a hallmark of Beijing that regularly makes the news. To be fair, it has its good days and particularly bad days. It’s also aggravated in summer, where haze can lock in the stickiness or humidity – and it’s a humidity different from that which you would find in coastal areas of East Asia. It occasionally gets into a vicious cycle, where individuals turn up the air con to get their relief, only driving energy use higher.
So it comes as no surprise that a clear blue sky is somewhat seen as a treat for Beijingers. Not only that, it’s an opportunity to go out and enjoy some truly fresh air. And in Beijing, ‘open space’ can carry several different meanings.
This place is not too far from the city centre – still near the 3rd Ring Road. It’s near Renmin University and several skyscrapers can still be seen. But if you were to see a wholesale depot with a massive parking lot in front in many other cities around the world, you’d think you were on the fringe. Then again, Beijing has grown so fast that yesterday’s fringe is today’s CBD.
And it evolves such that locals take their traditions to it straight away. An Uyghur restaurant lies across the parking lot, and they decided to expand – grassroots style. The result is a pleasant evening for many Beijingers to enjoy a refreshing glass, barbecued meat – and some fresh air.