The sun looks old. Wrapped in a blanket of dense smog, the smoldering disc climbs low in the sky, heralding the start of a new day in suburban Beijing.
Migrant workers stir from their peasant slumber in flimsy make-shift-blue-roofed corrugated housing in a series of groans and sighs. Donning boots with matching hard-hats, they swig Baijo and light-up in-between mouthfuls of packet noodles. Today is another day on the ubiquitous building sites that litter Beijing’s cityscape, and these are the real stars of the show.
The early afternoon heat leads to heavy rain. Mammoth drops wonder aimlessly through the sky, crashing down into the lives of peasants and nouveau riche alike. Gucci-clad animal furs dart from mall to mall in vibrant yellow Lamborghinis, eyeballs glued to black mirrors, planning their Friday night on the town. Tonight there’s a whisper of a VIP party at the newly refurbed Ambassadors residence, cocktails at Alchemy, Mexican in NLGX, then off to the late night bars in Sanlitun and beyond.
For others, a menu of Baijo and noodles in a wet, bright-blue corrugated shed will suffice.
The rain lifts as a new moon lights up the dusky city, Beijing breathes a warm glow across its skyline to a firey crenelated horizon.