I went off to China again. Unny and I spent 7 days in Beijing and then went on to Xi’an. The pics below are all from Beijing. We popped around the city, traveled by taxi, subway, train and the little three wheel taxi the name of which I can’t recall right now.
We had a great time. Spoke to a few pf pir Chinese neighbors and generally trotted around the city as safely as if we were in the States. Beijing has to be one of the safest cities in the world. There are Army and Police all over the place. Everywhere you look. Even with them trolling around everywhere, I never felt like Big Brother was watching. Though, I’m sure that they were. There are cameras in every building and seemingly in every corner of the city. I didn’t see as many in Xi’an. Neither the police nor the cameras were as ubiquitous.
Above is a picture of the Buddha from the Lama Temple. It’s the tallest Buddha in the world carved from one piece of wood. One big tree. They wouldn’t let us take a picture, so I had to google this one to post here. It’s a beautiful and serene temple. Peaceful. Incense burning continuously. Smoke billowing around the altars. Buddhist pilgrims wandering around paying homage to Buddha and his principles. It’s a beautiful feeling. Peace all around.
We walked out of the Lama Temple to grab something to eat and then catch a bus. After we ate, we passed a Camel shote store. Camel seems to be a Chinese version of Timberland. Same look and same line of clothing and shoes. Apparently, China not only bootlegs electronics by whole clothing lines as well. Unny had been walking around in these thin shoes. They’d rubbed her heel raw in one place that was starting to get nasty. I’d told her that she needed better shoes, but, she wouldn’t listen. This time, though, I put the full press on. There’s no way that she could climb the Great Wall with those shoes. I tried and tried to reason with her and get her to buy a pair of hiking shoes. Finally, I prevailed. So when we passed the Camel Store, I asked her again. When I described the Great Wall to here again. Reason finally prevailed. Thank God. Her feet would have frozen on the Wall in those little thin shoes that she brought with her. We walked into the Camel Store.
I walked in the store and started laughing. They had some groovy music playing, so I started to dance around the store like a wild man. Jumping and gyrating. The ladies in the store were laughing. Unny, though, is a little shy. So she kept telling me to stop. I just kept going and laughing. Unny finally just started trying on shoes. She bought her shoes. I bought a jacket. We decided to take a taxi to the Hostel.
Our 7 days in Beijing were nothing less than incredible. Some days we froze our butts off and some days, we were enjoying ourselves so much that the cold just didn’t matter.
The Confucius Temple was being renovated last time I was there as were major parts of hte Forbidden City. So I was able to see before and after versions. The Chinese artisans did amazing work. The Confucius Temple was beautiful. I love how peaceful all of these temples are. The Forbidden City looked much the same. Immense and awe inspiring but with a new paint job.
It’s funny. Walking around Beijing, you don’t get the feeling that you are in a communist country. It’s very commercial. Very consumer oriented. The major difference is in employment. You can tell that the Chinese create jobs. They still operate on a mass project basis. Mass employees over taking an area and getting the job done. Whereas in the West or more modernized nations, we have machinery and automation that takes the place of mass numbers of people. Aside from that, the police for the average tourist are just curiosities. As are the Military men and women walking about. You don’t really feel any oppressive weight bearing down on you. The Facebook thing is an obvious clue that you are in a totalitarian country. Xi’an had an even more open feel. Out there, there was almost no presence and Xi’an had a fairly large Muslim population. I wondered at that as I was walking round. They all seemed fairly content in their lives. Who knows. I didn’t sit down and talk to them about it. Although, I did have an interesting conversation with a girl who works in a Shop/Cafe down by the Xi’an Mosque (more on that later).
Unny and I had a great time. That’s what mattered for us.
More later. For now. Here are some photos from the first few days in China. Hope you enjoy.