So when Conde Nast Traveler, the rather prominent global travel publication, released its list of "The 2014 Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the World," I thought, "oh no." I figured Beijing would not be on the first part of the list, and was afraid it might be on the second. Sadly, I was correct both times.
Melbourne and Auckland tied for world’s friendliest cities – imagine some sitcom rendition of "You go first. No, you go first. Hee hee hee," between the two as they vie for the top slot down under. But there is Beijing, the sixth-unfriendliest city in the world, seemingly less friendly than Frankfurt, Germany, at number seven, but more amiable than Marseilles, France, at number five (Johannesburg, South Africa, was rated unfriendliest).
"Though many readers find Beijing ‘fascinating’ and ‘beautiful,’ others believe that its ‘terrible pollution’ dulls the city’s many charms. ‘It’s a smoggy, crowded city that detracts from the amazing sites,’ one reader said, while another complained about its ‘dirty streets and hideous traffic.’ For a guaranteed smog and traffic-free experience, might we suggest going off the beaten path entirely?"
Maybe we should see it as improvement. TripAdvisor users voted Beijing second-worst city in the world for friendly locals, best taxi service, and friendliest taxi drivers. Only Moscow was worse in those categories. Still, the same site’s users said Beijing was their fourth-favorite city worldwide. Win some, lose some.
Conde Nast Traveler and its readers aren’t always so unfriendly to Beijing. Earlier this year, they named The Temple Hotel to the 2014 Hot List of The Best New Hotels in the World, and in July 2013 included Janes & Hooch on its list of Best New Bars in 20 Cities.
The lists are all subjective, but the reality is that tourist arrivals in Beijing continue to drop ten percent per quarter.
‘Til Tuesday, one road flat safe.
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on August 7, 2014.
Photos: The Beijinger