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My impression of Beijing changes every time I visit.   Compared to my last trip in Sept 08 (right after the Olympics), I noticed the following changes, both big and small.  Of course, the entire world has also shifted quite a bit over the past 6 months or so.

  • Traffic is a bit worse than during the Olympic period.  Apparently they have moved from a “driving every other day”  system to a “driving 4 out of 5 days” system.  All traffic controls will be off in April, so perhaps back to normal.
  • Beijing looks more weathly across the board.  6 months ago, I noticed young people being particularly wealthy (or at least in their display of wealth).  This time around, I would say that an average Beijinger does not look much different than someone from any other major cities.
  • Beijingers look more content, for people up to say, 50 or 60 years old.  I used to be able to see the worries off people’s faces from everyday toll.  Not so much this time around.
  • Cab drivers have become less talkative; minding their own business
  • Lastly, at least among the educated elite there, there seem to be an acceptance that some form of social or political unrest will come over the next decade or so.

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