Asia | China – More Adventures in Beijing
April 6, 2003
Started out this morning at 9 to go to Tianemen Square. Not that’s impressive. Ope air space between Mao’s Mausoleum and Parliament building. Meant to hold 1 million people for speeches, etc. Again, we were the tourist attraction. Lot’s of photos.
Then we went to the Forbidden City. Very crowded. Chinese tour groups identify themselves with matching caps. The group leader carries a flag that matches the caps and screams into a megaphone.
Again, the Feng Shui layout though it’s a huge area with lots of buildings. People pushed so much. I took two rolls of film and could’ve gone one but that was all I had on me. The buildings were beautiful outside and you get the feeling of Chinese court life by peering in.
Interesting aside. Internet providers are very hard to find in Beijing. This is allegedly because of a fire in an internet cafe two years ago so all internet cafes were closed. Obviously the fire was the fault of the internet. Phina ‘fessed up to the fact that really the government wants to track what people are doing. I think this is the real reason but P. stand by the fire reason. I think it’s preposterous.
Guide Kevin (who thankfull did not carry a flag or megaphone nor make the 9 of us wear matching caps) took us to lunch at a small restaurant on the outskirts of a Hutong. We had to walk through three people’s houses to get to it.
Lonely Planet mourns the loss of the Hutong with the Beijing 2008 olympics. It is a cultural and historical loss. Plus losing the charming lifestyle of 24 people living in 4 rooms and a whole building block sharing one gnarly bathroom. The Chinese gov’t is replacing the Hutongs with high rises and according to P. the people themselves are looking forward to this gigantic upgrade in living conditions. I have no chance to get the real story due to language barrier. It is always the ‘I can stay in a place grosser than you’ backpacker who gets to go home to their western plumbing and trust funds who’s particularly energetic about mourning such losses. Oops. Did I say that out loud?
But I digress. The dumplings were phenomenal. Pumpkin/lamb and pork/lentil. Then went to the incredible bakery by our hotel. Late afternoon boarded the overnight train to Xian.