Just wrapped upÂ our final day in Beijing. Here are three things that should have been obvious to me before arriving, but somehow, weren’t.
- When eavesdropping on two people speakingÂ a tonal language, it’s really hard toÂ tell when they’re angry/sad/happy.
- The classic bits of the Great Wall that you see on postcards are not particularly, er, classic. In fact, they’re built by Mao in the 1950s, and further fixed up in the 1980s. Oh, and it’s an urban myth that you canÂ see the Great Wall from space… but that doesn’t stop them putting it in huge letters in the museum.
- Having visited Russia a few years ago, it’s striking how much more service-oriented the Chinese are. This has to explain at least part of their stellar economic growth (a friend said that living in Beijing, you get to see a decade of change every year). It also made me wonder how much of capitalismÂ is cultural.