Our last stop in Beijing was the scene of the 2008 Beijing Olympics: the Bird’s Nest. The stadium, a piece of the more modern Beijing, was a stunning sight to behold in the darkening night. The building was lit with yellow and red lights, which looked dashing contrasted with the sky that had turned a deep, dark blue.

The square next to the stadium was surrounded by buildings related to the Olympics – there were towers with light shows and the Water Cube, the Olympic swimming pool. It was hard to get good photos in the darkness, and I concentrated on trying to get a few good ones of the Bird’s Nest, so I didn’t manage to capture good photos of the other buildings. I’m not too bothered, though – experiencing it all was the most important thing.

Fun anecdote: a group of children walked up to me on the square and asked for a photo with me. For the fourth time during my trip, I agreed to pose with bewildered Chinese people. Apparently us blondes are still rare enough in China to be an interesting sight for the locals!

As we left the Bird’s Nest behind, my first trip to Asia came to an end. The next morning, there was only the flight back home left (which was on the new Finnar A350 design plane!). Back in Finland, I experienced my first actual jet lag ever (time differences of 3-4 hours don’t really count), and fell happily asleep in my boyfriend’s arms at eight o’clock in the evening, already having fought back the fatigue already for too many long hours.

My maiden voyage to Asia was an attack on the senses and an exercise for the mind. I confess to letting some tears fall in the hotel room after tiresome days in a place so different from home. It’s hard to say whether I liked the city or not – I liked certain aspects of it, but I hated others. It was certainly an experience. Beijing left me with the feeling that I’m definitely, definitely not done with Asia yet. Next time, I hope to visit a more modern, cosmopolitan city with skyscrapers and Asian high tech – perhaps Tokyo. And that time won’t be in the summer, when it’s way too hot for a child of the north like me, who enjoys a comfortable 15 C weather.

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