I was parked on my favourite bar stool watching the Newcastle - Sunderland game (4-1, poor little mackems) and got distracted by an English fella called Rob.
Rob didn't have a 6 foot dead snake on the end of a stick (If confused see previous post enitiled "What would you do if..."), but he did have a horrendous story about air pollution in Beijing.
Here in Hong Kong we use the American system for calculating air pollution known as the Air Pollution Index or API. On a bad day here, the smog drifts down from Guangdong and we hit 140 on the scale, which is pretty bad and where visibility drops to about 1000 metres on a clear sunny day. Past that point all you see is a Haze.
Your chest tightens and sinuses get infected and it's not pleasant.
Rob however, quite calmly mentioned that in his eight years in Beijing an API of 500 wasn't uncommon. Respiratory illnesses such as Pneumonia are treated like a dose of Chickenpox and it's a rite of passage for most Beijingers. Visibility on these days is rarely better than 50-100 metres and if you are on the 6th floor of a building you can't see the floor, let alone Tianamen square. Everything is cloaked in a film of soot.
Point of all this being of course that Hong Kong will be getting the equestrian events of the Beijing Olympics and the local veterinarians have been commenting on the disastrous effects of 95% humidity along with pollution that hits 140-150 on the API on the horses.
We are not allowed to comment even here however on the effect of an API of 500 on the running of the marathon in Beijing itself. People routinely die during such events due to asthma attacks, allergic reactions and more worryingly recently one competitor in the 'Friendship race' which is a half marathon, died of asphyxiation. He choked to death....................
Here's to 2008 and our glorious comrades in Beijing!
Just out of interest, does anyone happen to know the API in their neighbourhood?