blog home好吃 | Food实习生 | Intern ExperienceChina Life: Student Blogs旅行 | Travel新闻 | NewsroomEspanolVolunteering

On a Smoggy Beijing Day

November 12, 2018. Originally posted on

Jackson Gress, Saint Louis University, TBC Fall 2018 Student

Dear Mom, I’m still alive, and although I’ve only been back in Beijing for a couple weeks, I’ve already gone exploring. One of the cool parts about living in one of the world’s oldest, largest cities is that there are always more things to do. This past Saturday, I got to visit two more major cultural sites in Beijing. These two famous icons represent both China’s long history and its contemporary prominence. They are the Temple of Heaven and the 2008 Beijing Olympic complex.

The Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven

Built in the early 1400s, the Temple of Heaven is a complex of sacred sites that were used by the emperor to pray for good harvest, as well as for ritual sacrifices.

This was supposed to be a picture of Beijing’s skyline. Instead, it’s mostly a picture of pollution…

Many gates from Imperial China feature this “three entrance” design. Only the emperor and empress were allowed through the center gate.

This strip of a path is the “Kings Road;” in imperial times, only royalty could walk on it. The foot is mine because I am a #king.

The Olympic Complex

This place needs no introduction. In 2008, Beijing hosted one of the most memorable Olympic Games in recent times, using the event to announce China’s dominant role in the 21st century. To do so, they enlisted the help of the world’s top architects to design some of the most striking, instantly memorable buildings of the 21st century.

Most notably, the world-famous Bird’s Nest!

And what is the Bird’s Nest used for now that the Games are over?

It’s used for American fast food.

The Water Cube, a.k.a. the place where Michael Phelps won more gold medals than anyone else in history.

I have to admit: I was pretty amazed at how beautiful the Olympic complex was, even after a decade. And we didn’t even see the whole complex or the huge Olympic park. Even after a decade, I can almost imagine how amazing it must have been during the actual Olympics. I guess I’ll have to find out for myself at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

I love you, Mom,


(P.S. Have you ever wondered what a German Oktoberfest in Beijing looks like?)

This is what a German Oktoberfest in Beijing looks like.