A recent travel guide piece for The Telegraph, for whom I am their Beijing Expert. I tried to be honest about the city in the intro, touching on the city’s frustrating contradictions while still aiming to inspire and excite.
Showpiece capital searching for identity
Like the painted faces of Peking opera, Beijing is an enthralling clash of personalities. Traditional but tech-forward, autocratic yet artistic, it’s a micro-managed megacity marching into the future, while striving to prune and polish the narrative of its turbulent past. And what a past. Ruling over China (on and off) since the days of Kublai Khan, Beijing is a treasure trove of Unesco World Heritage: The Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, the Ming Tombs, the Grand Canal. And above it all, draped dreamily across mountains, is the Great Wall of China – more magnificent beside Beijing than anywhere along its course.
Modern architecture has been outmuscling Beijing’s antique middle for decades, but, precariously, the city’s charming old hutong lanes endure. Here is where you’ll find locals gossiping around xiangqi (Chinese chess) boards, discreet boutique hotels tucked behind grey brick walls, and hip cocktail bars in hidden courtyards. And then there’s the food. From the city’s signature Peking duck to lesser-known delights from every nook of the Middle Kingdom, Beijing is a literal melting pot of Chinese gastronomy, presenting unbridled adventure for fearless foodies.
Read the full article here.