Beijing and the wall
Trip Start Sep 01, 2007
96Trip End Sep 10, 2008
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Where I stayed
qingman youth hostel
china, as i have said, has yet to embrace the art of the queue. this is a huge cultural difference that is hard to get used to. we are taught in the states from a very young age to line up and to wait your turn. people who cut the line are tattled on as not being fair. it is ingrained in our minds for many years. when one gets into a culture that does not operate this way, it can be very difficult to get used to and very offensive to one's psyche at an inner child on the swing set level. oriental cultures are deemed to be very polite. but one must remember that polite is a relative term and is measured by the culture in question. in the states, cutting the line is considered rude. as is staring
we finally get up there and the lady really stares at my passport. i mean she checks my eyes, my nose, my mouth, smiling and not along side the photo. my hair is different now you see and this is an issue for the Chinese. she then checks every detail of my visa and each and every stamp in the passport. reluctantly, she stamps me in. jason is not so lucky. he has an old passport with the actual photo laminated on it. not one of the new ones with it scanned over a hologram background. i debated on this before we left but the wait for passports was very long due to the change in the canadian and mexican border requirements. once again, they take his passport to the back room and take him from the line, leaving me legally in china and him on the other side. an hour passes. all the people file through and leave. the immigration officers start to take breaks and still i am sitting on my bag in china, and jason on his in no man's land
customs, normally a breeze, hassles me about some pills in my carry on bag but not about the enormous months long supply in my other bag. of course, all the paperwork is in order so they can search all they want. by the end of this ordeal, we are more firmly set in our stance on china. and it isn't looking positive.
it will be very interesting indeed to see what happens during the olympics.
moving on, we catch a cramped bus to beijing just outside the door of the arrivals hall. after many hours in traffic, we are sold on the rail system that has carried us around china previous to this. we arrive to our hostel late in the night and collapse into soft and clean beds.
the next day we had many things to do
the next day we got up and went to the great wall. this was a long day but worth it all. we had a bus to jinshan gates which is in the next province. hiking up to the wall itself is a reminder of how much muscle mass we have lost on this journey. riding a bus or train is not a great way to stay in shape
today is saturday, and everyone is china is in the forbidden city. so we will see it on monday. tomorrow we will go to the summer palace and mao's tomb at Tienanmen square. so that left today to get some typing done. after this we went to the silk road market. this is an experience like any other market: people clawing and pawing at you such that you don't even want to look. one lady grabbed and jerked me so hard that she left welts of scratches on my arm. good sales tactic lady. however, as luck would have it, jason finds a tech shirt that he likes and we start the bargaining process. we try to converse with each other in spanish to use as an advantage but she speaks spanish too!!! we got the price we could both agree on and then i walked around a little more while jason rested. when i came back he was surrounded by 3 Chinese kids, practicing english. as we have found, this is usually an art student scam (they pretend to practice english and then try to guide you to their professor's studio to be pressured to buy art made by the students) but they were just friendly. we went to an american franchise restaurant and i spazed on the food.
sunday was a very rainy day. mao's tomb was closed so we took a rest day. later in the day we went to a duck place to have peking duck in the source
monday we went to the forbidden city. after battling the Chinese queue, we had our tickets to enter and an auto guide. the guide was great but almost had too much information. unfortunately many of the main halls are closed for renovation. curiously there are other exhibitions to the side that cost money above and beyond the ticket we already paid. we remain everyone's favorite zoo animal. in the meantime here is what i learned. the forbidden city was started in the 14th century and continued to be built, refined and modified until 1924 when pu yi was evicted. the qing dynasty ended with him in 1911 with the revolution. he was allowed to live there until 1924 and then the city was opened to the public. empress cixi was heavily present in the city's displays. i found this of interest as i have read several historical fiction novels about china during this trip and she was in 2 of them. the city itself is pretty neat. a serious maze of old buildings, painted delicately. and the garden has trees that are several hundred years old.
at the end of the day we had met 2 people who had met alaskans traveling. we got on the overnight train to xian on hard sleepers. we were crammed into the top bunks for the duration.
our stay in beijing was hard. i think we are very road weary and things like being unable to escape smoke and the dirt and pollution are trying. plus, the cold i had in korea was giving me its all. coming here well rested for a short visit would be very interesting and informative.
funny stuff we have seen:
a vendor getting his stuff confiscated by secret police on Tienanmen square.
-we heard hotel california here too
-tall kids now a days. the short asian is now a myth.
-converse tennis shoes are all the rage
-there are head dresses here that look alot like eskimo headdresses and somewhere else we have been. it always amazes us that things can be so different and yet the same.
-there is a frizzy type of hairstyle common here that i can't figure out. too bad they don't speak english to tell me how to do it!