If your visions of Beijing are centred around pods of Maoist revolutionaries in buttoned-down tunics performing t'ai chi in the Square, put them to rest: this city has embarked on a new-millennium roller-coaster and it's taking the rest of China with it.
Today's youth are more interested in MTV than Mao; rhetorical slogans from the Cultural Revolution have given way to butchered English splashed across designer-copy T-shirts; and expats, tourists, foreign investors and a mobile phone-toting hip-oisie are mixing it up with the bureaucrats.
Old hutongs (alleys) and buildings are being demolished, new buildings are going up, small things are giving way to big things and big things are giving way to even bigger things. This fast-paced, two-minute-noodles lifestyle doesn't please everyone - the old comrades are complaining about uppity youths and loss of values - but the capital of the People's Republic of China doesn't look like it's slowing down any time soon.
Facts for the traveller
Off the beaten track