My job involves a lot of travel (whodda guessed, right?), and although I do get to go to some great places, there are some places that I go to that are simply wretched. Often filled with good people, but.... wretched. One case in point is Tianjin, China. Tianjin is a large city close to the Chinese capital, Beijing. It is also a major manufacturing center, and you can tell this the minute you get off the plane. As soon as the plane door opens, one breath tells you that you are in a place where you don't want to stay too long. My chemist's nose tells me that the smell has that "bacon and eggs"-ish odor of sulfur dioxide, but overlaying this is something that you can just label "dirty".
My colleague, Michael Qiu, says he has been to Tianjin many times, and never seen the sun. I think I must have gotten lucky, because I HAVE seen the sun there once. After a brief overnight snowfall that must have nucleated and precipitated the atmospheric particulates, we were rewarded the next day with hazy sunshine. The people seemed happier on that day.