I am in Beijing, China from 22 February to 15 July this year (with some side-trips) to do research. My institutional host is the 清华大学能源环境经济研究所 (qīnghuá dàxué néngyuán huánjìng jīngjì yánjiū suǒ, Tsinghua University Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy), and I am mostly funded by the MISTI/MIT-China program. I am subletting a room about a kilometre east of the university.
Though I promised many I would blog about my experiences, so far I have only given commentary on some photos (please follow them, too!). But after a month of first surviving, then being generally bewildered, I finally have a bit of time and headspace to write about some of the more striking differences between here and home, and my attempts to explore the city. I should also tip my hat to Danielle and Adrian, who despite being far busier than I set a good example by blogging regularly.
The first, not-so-bite-size observation is that Beijing is big. We had a research workshop attended by senior staff for Beijing's Environmental Protection Bureau; I reflected that their constituency, at about 20 million, is 60% of the entire population of Canada. The urban districts (in orange and red here) are twice to five times as dense as Toronto, but the enormous population and broad streets (more on them later) make it quite a hike to get from place to place. Bicycle, subways—I haven't chanced the bus system yet—and taxis are critical.
More soon! Please give a "What up!" in the comments below so I know that you're following, and who I'm writing for.