I do admit I left China at a time when it was pretty much in its doldrums. 2014 was a slow year. Earlier that year, me being stuck in smog in very bad traffic was pretty much it to me.
It would be nearly 7 years since I was last in London, so I imagined development had really picked up there. I took the Metropolitan line to the city terminus at Aldgate twice — once in November 2014, and again in summer 2015. It was highly disappointing: there was just about no change there in the City.
In the meantime, Beijing had engaged Magnet Mode again: just about everything from the Winter Olympics and the G20 meeting to international gardening and relaxation summits headed its way into the Middle Kingdom in a chain series of events starting from summer 2015.
With this return trip to Beijing, the absolutely amazing pace of development just completely took my breath away. I took the Beijing Subway the day I landed to see how fast things were picking up in the CBD, after seeing pics on the Web that there must have been at least one new skyscraper in the making. The entire city took my breath away. Even more breathtaking was Hebei, especially that part which would host the world in 2022. ▶
This bit of National Expressway G45 in south Beijing that just opened in early December 2010 is pretty short in length, and yet it forms part of the bigger Daqing-Guangzhou (Daguang) Expressway in China. Beijingers (as of this post) are only getting the stretch from the old Beijing-Kaifeng (Jingkai) Expressway to the next exit, the Luqiu Highway, open. To make sure that cars don’t overwhelm the exit, for the time being, the expressway is being confined to a single file, oddly enough.
I drove on this stretch of the expressway just for the sake of it. Unlike the old Jingkai Expressway, the new Daguang Expressway feels much smoother (especially on the way back) as it has little traffic flow (for now) and sports three lanes per direction instead of two.
Once upon a time, the old expressway ended a few miles away from the boundary with Hebei province, and nobody thought it’d continue further south as nearby Hebei simply didn’t get on with the programme and build its part. The new expressway solves the connection issue, so to speak, with Hebei. ▶