January 1, 2008

Pollution in Beijing and Smiley Faces at Immigration

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[img_assist|nid=26538|title=Smoggy Commute|desc=With heavy industries within the city limits and more cars taking to the roads with each passing day, Beijing’s air pollution crisis continues to worsen. When this photo was taken on December 28th, the city’s air pollution scored a 500/500 on the city’s 5|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]When first touching down at the Beijing airport, there was so much pollution the air was white. Walking out of the airport was like walking into a cloud of smokers, intensified by the number of people smoking cigarettes as they waited in long lines for cabs and buses. For the first two days we were in Beijing, there was too much pollution to see the sky through it. The New York Times reported that Friday was a 500 out of 500 on the pollution scale. The air quality improved, however, after these first days.

The Capital Airport itself, however, as well as the Shanghai Pudong airport we landed at several days later, is very modern. At least two brand new terminals in Beijing and another in Shanghai are about to open.
The signs around immigration inform those getting off planes that the officers are very friendly. “Laws are fully enforced and service to passengers,” the changing electronic sign reads at one point. After the immigration officer processes your passport, they as you to rate their service. There are four buttons with English on them, demarcating your level of satisfaction. Happy and sad faces also illustration your feelings of satisfaction.