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Datong - 大同 E-mail
Reviews - Travel
Written by Leyla Lopos
I just got back from Datong, Shanxi. My school organized this trip, so this time I was traveling with all my classmates and two teachers. The trip wasn’t that fun, it was like joining a tour group, I had to follow the big group all the time, and our travel schedule was occupied with visiting historical spots which I wasn't that interested in.

After having done many backpacking trips, I got bored a lot this time, and I missed home. I'd never missed Hangzhou when I was traveling, but this time I couldn't wait to get out of Datong. One big reason-- pollution. Datong is one of the worst polluted cities in China. There're many coal mines in that city, and people there rely on coal a lot (cooking, heating...). Chimneys are everywhere, the air quality is really bad (air smells horrible!). It hardly rains in that area, most rivers have been dried up. And in spring they also suffer sandstorm every now and then... I've been to some dry areas, but it's my first time to see a dry place with so many environmental problems.

Hangzhou is also a polluted city, I've been complaining about stuff like there're too many construction sites here, a blue sky is rarely seen... but compared to Datong, Hangzhou is so clean, and the problems we have here is at least not that unbearable.

I've been living in Hangzhou more than twenty years, and I've been watching the environmental changes here. I remember when I was a kid, we used to swim in a canal nearby in summer, but now the water of that canal has turned into black and it smells awful. I used to count the number of stars in the sky at night, but now stars are hardly seen... Apparently, the development brings many environmental problems. Shanxi is an industrial center, but compared to east coast, it's a less developed area.

There're already so many environmental problems there, I was wondering what the pollution would be like if there’s massive development coming up in that area in the near future. What’s the point of being developed and rich at the cost of environment? How can we get better lives when we can’t even breathe normally?

I'm glad to be back, but on the day I arrived, the temperature went up to almost 35C, crazily high. And the next day we didn't have power at home. Since last year, every winter and summer, we have power cuts one or two days a week-- because of the power shortage China is suffering.

I've never paid too much attention to environmental problems before. It seems the problems are too big, and there's nothing I can do about it. But Shanxi trip makes me think, I'm getting aware of these problmes, and I won't be indifferent anymore.

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Our valuable Editor Leyla Lopos has been with us since Sunday, 17 April 2011.

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