The Intensity of It All: Beijing Photo Essay

China is a challenging place. It challenges the senses, body, mind, even the emotions. The expected, normal social behaviour of the Western world are challenged by the 1.39 billion Chinese living in the normalcy of their own. As a Westerner you have to leave all arrogance and ego at the boarding gate. You’re no longer the King of your castle, hell, you don’t even have a one bedroom studio apartment on the wrong side of town, let alone a castle. After a few days you make peace with that notion of a new normal. Your alignment becomes shifted, and you are swept into the never-ending, deluge of people traffic in constant motion.

The Great Wall of China. I pinched myself so many times!

It’s ironic to note the many Chinese religions that practice meditation, and the power of an individual’s energy. I can imagine these to be comforting ideologies when your local world is full of so much intense engagement of people, and the associated sensory overload. I came to enjoy the pre-dawn quiet of my hotel mornings more than I knew I would. Once thrust out into the world of it all, you just do. You take each adventure as it comes, small and large, wearing a respiratory mask to protect against rising pollution levels when necessary.

So I present to you my Beijing experience in a set of pictures. This only captures the scenery from my point of view, which I acknowledge is probably rose-coloured and privileged to that of other travellers or most certainly locals. (The number of which have not been to their own Great Wall is surprising). I hope you enjoy this vicarious adventure, and I wish you endurance if you are ever to experience it yourself.

My captioned photo essay is below and you can always follow along via Instagram @molli_sparkles. Enjoy the journey.

I received this rose during a late night room service meal, and it just seemed so symbolic of my discovery through Beijing.

My breakfast review from the 66th floor of the Beijing Park Hyatt.

The drink options available at a food stand outside the train station.

I’m always trying to look up at things. This chandelier had all the sparkle.

If there’s a sewing machine to be found, I will find it!

Cute to the max, and I want his hat!

Looking down for details can discover interesting results.

Due to pollution, there were several times I had to wear a respiratory mask. See next picture for why.

This is why. That’s not fog.

I was guiltily spoiled for food. Pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon and then wrapped in sausage. Yum to the max!

You think you have traffic jam problems?

The scooters will run you down! Watch out!

All I could think was: We are QUILTERS!

But I went to Artists Space 798 and saw the most amazing venue (converted, abandoned factories) for the arts.

I’m looking at you, kid!

Artwork by Li Di at 798.

Li Di artist statement.

I spent a lot of time exploring the ins and outs of 798. Lots of nooks and crannies to get lost amongst with artwork at every turn.

Crushing hard on this colour palette of bold with a hint of the subdued.

A tourist visit to The Ming Tombs.

One of thirteen mausoleums at The Ming Tombs.

The dragon is probably the most important cultural symbol.

Ancient gold ingots.

The definite highlight of the trip was visiting The Great Wall.

While there I made new friends!

I found a little bit of home at the jade factory.

Whew! On my way to Singapore for the next leg of my journey!


10 Responses

  1. Nancy says:

    Such remarkable photographs – it makes me (apart from the smog) want to go and see it.

  2. CEe says:

    Hello…I agree with everything you said about China. My daughter would not let me go out alone as she was afraid I would not be careful enough. She drives a scooter…the funny thing is I could not find a coffee I enjoyed so we went to McDonalds and pointed at a picture…it was drinkable. We went to an expensive hotel for breakfast and I looked so forward to a regular copy…it was so strong my spoon stood up…back to MAC.
    At the time of my visit I was not into quilting, wish I was…love your site and enjoy looking at your pics…my daughter lives in Taiwan so your photos help me think of her…thank you. I loved your fabrics too. Look forward to seeing your creations.

  3. Candy Radford says:


  4. The best is last, what a fantastic seat, so comfy. Those tall buildings and ALL that traffic would scare me.

  5. fi says:

    Thanks Molli for a vicarious visit to China through your gorgeous images Fi x

  6. Dee Whyte says:

    Awesome pics Molli. I’m going to enjoy your journey!

  7. Dee Whyte says:

    Awesome pics Molli. I’m going to enjoy your journey! An amazing country.

  8. Great photos! I was in Beijing in June 2012 as a solo backpacker. It was just as you describe. Also, I found the sheer scale of the place (that is, the buildings and layout) utterly overwhelming and rather inhuman. I’m sorry to say that I really struggled with it, and it very nearly defeated me (my rather unfortunate choice of abode absolutely didn’t help either). Still, I managed to see and do some stuff, and my fondest memory of Beijing is my trip out to the Summer Palace, which was magnificent.

  9. Lesley Gilbert says:

    I loved all your photo’s, especially the last one of you in your hat – you have a twinkle in your eyes, like you have a secret to tell 🙂

  10. We are QUILTERS!

    Great photos, thank you for sharing.

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