The Eerie Side of China

As much as I loved visiting China two year ago, there is one thing about China that still drove me mad. The horrifying, dense layer of suffocating pollution that cripples most of the major Chinese cities.

China continues to have a major problem with pollution and not only does it look horrible it is bad for its people. Per a recent report in the New York Times,  “Outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, nearly 40 percent of the global total, according to a new summary of data from a scientific study on leading causes of death worldwide.

We went to Beijing and Shanghai in November of 2011 and sadly all of my photos of the glorious landmarks such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China and the skyline of Shanghai are cast in an ugly, eerie haze of pollution. I don’t remember ever seeing the sun the entire ten days we were there.

I always was annoyed with how poor these photos turned out after I got home from my trip. But I never tossed them out and am now able to use them for the Weekly Photo Challenge “Eerie”, as I find that they fit the bill quite well.

Beijing China

Looking out across the polluted skies near the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Beijing China

Fishing…..really? I hope they didn’t eat their catch.

Beijing China

Looking down on the Forbidden City with a blanket of pollution hanging on top. These photos were taken at noon.

Beijing China

Beijing China

The Great Wall of China stretches for many many miles yet we could hardly see past the first hill as it was all engulfed in smog.

Beijing China

Beijing China

Last but not least, I had to include one more “eerie” photo from my Chinese collection. Dead chickens for sale at the market near the Great Wall. This made me give up chicken for the rest of the week.

Beijing China

This post was written in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, “Eerie”. To see more entries, click here.


    • Thank you so much! They were in color but I changed them to B&W for the effects. Look much better in black and white than color as it is all washed out.

  1. Sandy

    My family took our youngest daughter, who was adopted in China in 2002 when she was a year old, back to China in the summer of 2012. Things haven’t changed at all. We were there 2 1/2 weeks, and didn’t see the sun the first 2 weeks…unless we were flying to another city and rose above the smog. Sad.

    • Yes it is very sad and I feel bad for the people who live there and have to breathe it in. I know they need to modernize yet with such a huge population it makes pollution even worse.

  2. I feel your sentiments about eating chicken again after looking at the photo – particularly the leg on the far right hand side that’s limp and facing down. Totally representing ‘death’. Oooh, that’s eerie!

    Well caught!

  3. You are right. These are perfect for “eerie.” They all have a haunted feel about them, and then, and then you get to the chickens.

  4. I’m laughing at the dead chicken feet. Believe it or not, I almost added a picture of dead chicken feet to my weekly eerie challenge, too. When my mother visited China, she returned with a nagging cough that wouldn’t go away for months. But, even your polluted photos are beautifully eerie.

  5. China is trying to find ways to fight the horrible pollution. It is hard when everything is made here! As someone living here as an expat (Shanghai) it is hard to see blue sky most days. It seems the winter months are the worst since the fog and cold dense damp air traps it all in. Plus more people have the heat on, and most hydro comes from coal plants. Soon as the cold weather hits the pollution level jumps. This August when we returned for the start of a new year we had beautiful blue skies, but now we are under the grip of bad air and colder temps.

    • Let’s hope they do. I know they are rapidly modernizing and have such an enormous population. Yet i would hate to have to breathe that air all the time.

      • Yes it has been bad the last year. I am noticing the effects with itchy eyes, sore throats and sometimes nosebleeds. Luckily we have air purifyers at school and that has really helped.

  6. Just got back from Beijing and it was really gross. Shanghai is still much better – though not great. Just need to make sure I escape regularly. Loved the photos!

    • Yes I felt Beijing was much worse too. Hopefully someday the air will be cleaner. China is such an amazing place but the pollution would drive me crazy.

  7. I have just returned from China after a 10 day holiday.. Yes the smog was bad and like you I was annoyed that the photos weren’t as good as they should have been thanks to the pollution. I was extremely lucky though, that blue skies were about the day I climbed the Great Wall of China. I also had a few glimpses on other days too. I was so pleased however, to get back to Australia to see our beautiful blue skies..

    • You are lucky! I’m envious as I can only imagine how beautiful the Great Wall would have been without all the smog! Do you have a post with photos up? Let me know as I’d love to check it out!

  8. You’re right on the pollution problem as we did see it in our final day in Beijing. But for the rest of our visit last month we were blessed with clear blue skies and very little haze. At the wall, we could see forever and Shanghai was gloriously colorful. Luck of the draw I guess, but at least you created some really moody shots perfect for the challenge!

  9. That grey fog looks terrible!! Which month did you visit Nicole? It wasn’t quite as bad in October.
    Those chicken feet sure are off-putting 🙂

  10. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Eerie Tomb | Processing the life

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