The sun had set along ago and the evening air was creeping lower, lower… I was ready to give up hope. My walk around the Forbidden Palace in hope of finding Tiananmen Square was becoming hopeless and the -2 degree weather was far less than the 36 degrees I’d left in Australia.
“Pedal?” a man on a rickshaw approached me, “where to?”
My answer showed a shocked look on his face.
“Ohhhh, too far to walk. Pedal, good price!”
I thanked him thinking it was just him being a salesman as he chased after another set of tourists behind me – I would regret my choice 30-minutes of aimless walking later. Who knew the Forbidden Palace was so big?
Rounding another bend I knew it was time to call it a day. The cold was beginning to permeate my thick jacket and I’d lost all feeling in my nose and cheeks well before the minutes of walking began to blend together.
I was lost.
Waiting for Google Maps to load I spotted two men who looked like they were just relaxing, gazing down over the frozen moat in the — that ran around the Palace. Walking closer I noticed they weren’t just chatting, they were ice fishing.
They eyed up curiously, a Westerner in these parts were common but not so much after dark, though no words between us were exchanged.
The ‘fog’ that had descended upon the city that morning, now illuminated by the cities lights that highlighted the beauty in the ancient cities design. Little did I know that later that day I’d find out that the descended ‘fog’ was in fact China’s infamous smog, and the day I walked around the city unmasked was the worst pollution day on record.