One World, One Dream

Trip Start Jun 08, 2005
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Monday, July 18, 2005

Tian'anmen Square is physically the largest peoples square in the world, it's just aswell that the Chinese can lay claim to that, because unless you knew that fact you wouldn't think that Beijing had a heart or soul at all. It's a truly massive (geographically that is) city that's filled with smog and linked together by what seems to be a disjointed public transport system which leaves the use of taxi's being a viable transport option. Being at the mercy of taxi driver's is something that I avoid at all costs, so that in itself has been a thorn in my side. Maybe the fact that I have had the worst head cold in living history hasn't done Beijing justice, but in all honesty I believe that there are many, many nicer cities in China than this one. Sorry to all of those of you that love Beijing dearly, because I know that you are out there, but give me Shanghai any day, I won't miss Beijing at all!

In many way's Beijing is a tourist mecca though, a week could easily be filled with the many things that there are to do here (I will certainly give it credit in that area). My head cold has essentially rendered me basically useless for the sight seeing tasks, but I have managed to fit afew of the critical things in. Of course there was the Great Wall. Actually getting to the Great Wall was somewhat of an escapade in itself; leaving at 7.30am we were caught in heavy traffic and didn't actually make it to the wall until 4.30pm! The flip side of that was that there weren't any touts around and that we were the only ones (our bus load) on the wall. We walked the 10Km from Jinshanling - Simatai, a truly fanatic walk, the wall was picture perfect. Grant had given me a book to read before I left NZ about a NZ woman (Polly Greeks) of whom Grant had met somewhere along the line. Polly had walked the entire wall and I can partially appreciate the difficulties she would have gone through on such a massive journey, winter time on the wall must have been truly horrid! Big up's to Polly! Afew people on the bus reckoned that the visit to this part of the wall had been far superior to Badaling, but I didn't feel the need to measure my experience by visiting Badaling aswell - I was fully content with what I had seen between Jinshanling and Simatai and I am sure that those who have been to Badaling are equally as happy with what they have seen.

Last night I went to an Acrobatic show - man could they pull some party tricks! My eye's were popping out of my head at what these people could do! Even with all of the yoga training in the world I think my calling to be an acrobat may have passed. The cast was made up of about 40 acrobats, about half of which would have been under the age of 10. They never missed a beat and the body bending tricks and flips were totally outstanding and to a large extent mind blowing.

Last but not least I went to Tian'anmen Square, I dragged myself along feeling somewhat uninterested, hot, sick and lethargic. I drugged myself up for the occasion, but in all reality I never really got into the visit. Abit of a shame really, given that it's got such a tragic recent history, even within my lifetime. But I just wasn't firing and the river of snot pouring out my nose was demanding too much of my attention to be ignored.

I'm off to Monglia tomorrow and have already met afew people that will be on the train with me, all really nice people and it's getting very exciting! Thisafternoon I went to change some yuan into USD, the teller initially refused to make the change and told me to go to the airport and do it at the bank there. My ears pricked up (aswell as my heckles!) as the exact same thing had happened to me in Cuba, only when I got to the airport in Cuba they wouldn't change the money there, consequently I ended up taking about 100 USD worth of Cuban currency out of the country that was rendered useless once I left Cuban shores. Anyway, concerned that the same fate was coming my direction in China I wasn't willing to accept the fobbing off. I blatantly demanded that they changed my money with no niceties at all. I was sick, tired and not in the mood for getting dicked around, in hindsight though even I am abit embarrassed about the performance I put on. After about .5 hour of being a right bitch I came out victorious... out I walked with all of my money changed into USD, which when the crunch came didn't appear to be of any inconvenience to them what so ever. Never ever belive them when they tell you to go to the airport to change your money!

Reflections on China - A great country, easy to travel through with very few touts and the Chinese men being unobtrusive, easy to navigate. The train's a superb. It feels abit strange to be such a novelty though, being stared at, having photo's taken of you is just the norm. The kids have crazy hair cuts (all with little Johan do's) that I don't really understand... not when the adults have such conservative hair cuts. I don't understand the desire to have small beetles that make annoying noises in minature bird cages hanging in store frontages either... really annoying! The people are lovely though and the children well behaved and nice. It's a safe country to travel through. The toilets are revolting and the people don't care, cleanliness just doesn't feature. The food is fantastic, some of it is very very hot - I didn't expect that. The county clearly has a pollution problem, also a population problem... there's just so many people! The Chinese must be the best vege gardeners in the world though... literally every spare centimeter of soil has a vegetable growning on it. It's like my Mum's vegetable garden multiplied by the entire whole country!
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