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What is that?” Jennie asked me pointing to what looked like vacuum-packed sick in a bag. We were shopping in a small grocery store in Beijing, trying for the life of us to find some kind of food we recognized. We left empty-handed.

Arriving in China is a bit like arriving on the moon; you’ve seen all the pictures, you think you know what to expect, but it’s more alien than you can imagine.

 

The first thing that struck me upon our arrival was the clean crisp air outside Beijing airport – strange when the air everywhere else around the city is as thick as soup with pollution.

We endured a hair-raising journey to our hotel; cars driving inches apart or reversing down motorways, cyclists and pedestrians everywhere. Not so different to other cities you might say; except here it's almost like a dance, with everyone seamlessly managing to avoid each other.

It is almost as if the vehicles have minds of their own. We saw one man driving a motorbike while staring intently through some binoculars in the opposite direction; another was driving apparently asleep!

We were relieved when we arrived alive at the Bamboo Garden Hotel which we had booked in advance - it was our treat to get us started. This beautiful, serene hotel was an oasis of calm after the chaos we had just become unwittingly embroiled in.READ MORE

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