Finally, an article appeared in the western media that might be a first step to set the record straight when it comes to the pollution in Beijing: IOC chief plays down pollution fears.

Take it from someone who’s lived in Bucharest for 5 years: the pollution in Bucharest is worse. On many evenings, when walking on Sos. Viilor on my way back home from work, I could barely breathe. The old cars, not to mention the ancient buses, would stand there idling, 3 lanes wide, going nowhere. I suspect some of those old vehicles had the fuel stored under pressure and weren’t even burning the gas, but just throwing it out unburnt.

Come to think of it, there aren’t that many old cars in Beijing. Here they also have some of those ancient buses, but these only drive beyond the second ring road. (Ine takes one of those daily.)

What does suck, however, is the Beijing climate. Winters are harsh, and not unlike winters in Bucharest, although I’ve understood that it’ll be even colder here. Spring just plain sucks. Well, at least last spring sucked, which is the only one I can comment on. In spring there are dust storms. You’ll know that there was one, when you notice a thin layer of sand all over your house. I noticed there was one when I got a pretty nasty sinus infection that went on for 2 weeks. After spring with its dust storms follows summer with its high humidity, which also sucks: I’m constantly sweating. We have two air conditioners at home and we’re using them both. The temperature here is more or less the same as in Bucharest, but in Bucharest we never had an air conditioner and I never needed one, let alone buy one.

Which brings me back to the IOC chief’s message. Beijing’s very humid and the haze that I see daily is just that: a haze. For one, it’s not brown. It also doesn’t smell bad. I can inhale deeply and the air smells OK. (Try doing that on Viilor friday evening at 18:00.) I won’t deny there’s any pollution here; there must be with all those cars driving on the busy 6+ lanes ring roads.

From our window we can see a big chimney going up from some kind of factory. The factory seems to be closed as its chimney hasn’t produced as much as a puff during our stay here. Now, I reserve the right to change my opinion if that factory goes back to business and starts burning coal or recalled toys.