Beijing’s got grit.

Beijing-forbidden city from above

The thing about Beijing that struck me the most was how gritty it all was. Gritty to the point that you could taste it when you walked outside. There’s a constant layer of dust that settles in to your mouth with each breath.

I don’t say this to disparage Beijing in any way. It’s a fine city, with lots of interesting sights and interesting things.

Standing on top of the hill in Jinghshan park, behind the mighty Palace Museum, we could see the Forbidden City stretched out before us in all its ancient magnificence. The sparkling new skyscrapers of modern Beijing were all but lost in a grey haze. The buildings where we were, at least, were lower than expected. The city seemed to stretch out for miles, perhaps into infinity, before disappearing into the haze.

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Hue, Vietnam is tragically underrated.

We met a tour guide in Hoi An, Vietnam who was born and raised in the nearby city of Hue. We told him we were staying there for two nights. He frowned at us.


“Most people spend four hours in Hue,” he said. “Even a full day is too long.”

This seemed to be the sentiment of most of the fellow travelers we met in our hostel. The consensus was that Hue was fine, but really just a pit stop on the road to the bigger and better attractions of Da Nang and Hoi An. It might be the most underrated place I’ve ever been to.

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