An insider’s guide to Beijing: caged birds, smog and internet satire
Chinas capital is home to nearly as many people as the entire population of Australia. Concrete sprawl might be prevalent but so too are buckwheat pancakes, traditional theatres and oases filled with birdsong
In five words
Alleys, imperial architecture, concrete sprawl
Sound of the city
Old Beijingers have a hobby of keeping caged birds that sing their bright, melodic chirps are a pleasant wake-up call, even if youre not an early riser. In the narrow hutongs, their tones echo alongside the boisterous conversations of residents, the thick Beijing accent unmistakable anywhere. But these oases are never far away from wide-scale chaos: bad urban planning from the Mao era means that huge roads cut across the fabric of the city, so the sound of cars is a constant in the capital.