August 20, 2012
It's time to get back to the hotel. As it is not very far away we decide to take one of the little tuk-tuk taxis, known here as hop-hops', for the way they lurch and jerk along like a rabbit trying to escape a fox.
There are six million taxis in Beijing, and who knows how many of these improvised motorbike cabs. As we cram in the back I feel as if I am squashed into a mobile hot dog vendor's trolley. Xu manages to close the door, but I fear we are going to need a can opener to get out.
We lurch into the notorious city traffic. Congestion is so bad here, that each day, 20% of cars belonging to the city's 20 million people, are banned, according to the last number on the registration plate. Nevertheless the traffic seems to be in an almost permanent state of exhaust fuelled gridlock.
The hop-hop drivers don't seem to obey any traffic rules, and at one point we head back to the hotel by going the wrong way up a one way street.
I am glad when we spill out onto the forecourt of our hotel in one piece. It's been an inspiring morning. I shall be sorry to leave China, but I shan't miss the traffic in her capital.
We have one more appointment this evening: a visit to the Peking Opera.
by Greg Doran
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