Beijing (8961 km from Moscow)
Beijing has undergone massive transformations in the last decade. The city is increasingly digitized: LCD screens with Chinese pop videos and advertisements for beauty products have multiplied at the same rate that the presence of bicycles has dwindled. The 1980s ushered in a different era in the country, and since then the speed of transformation has only accelerated. How the country compromises its communist identity with these new economic and cultural changes is fascinating. But as the flashing lights grow brighter, the avenues around Tiananmen Square wider, and the traffic faster, Beijingers still revere Chairman Mao. His embalmed body, like that of Lenin, is encased in a monumental Chinese-Soviet structure accessible to visitors for public viewing. It lies on the axis of the Forbidden City, directly between the former imperial seat of power and the (newer) municipal administration complex. Aspiring witnesses to the body wrap the complex, and many of them accept the invitation to purchase and throw artificial roses, which are promptly re-sold.