BootsnAll Travel Network

There are worse places to spend a week (Like an office job)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Late night shoe repair, Beijing

I’ve been in Beijing for 8 days now and although I wasn’t exactly excited about spending another week of my vacation here it was exactly what I needed. I just said goodbye to my Kung Fu buddy, Marta, this morning and earlier this week I spent a few days with fellow Kung Fu enthusiast/Boots-n-all blogger, Greg (check out his blog, Vagabonding Begins). Greg continued on to Zhengzhou for some Kung Fu training of his own earlier this week (Sucker!!) and Marta met me here a few days ago after completing 2 months of training.

Over a late night beer Marta and I discovered that we had both thought of Morgan Freeman’s character in the Shawshank Redemption on the train ride from ZhengZhou to Beijing. Specifically, how he couldn’t adjust to life on the outside after being institutionalized for so long. It’s an extreme stretch to compare our very short time in a military training Kung Fu school to a 20+ year prison sentence, but I was never able to understand why his character reacted the way he did to freedom. Now I can. Now I understand what it’s like to have your entire day planned out for you, to have every meal chosen and prepared for you, to wear the same uniform as everyone else, to be confined to one place and unable to leave. Marta knows, too, and it was very comforting to be with a friend who had just been where I’d been and who was sharing some of the same feelings.

Marta was also great to travel with as she’ll drink with you until the wee hours of the morning and be up at the crack of dawn, full of energy, ready to go for the day. She hadn’t seen the Great Wall yet, so we went to the closest section (Badalang) which should really be called The Great MALL of China. There are so many shops and vendors and the Wall was so well-restored, it felt a little like Disneyland. I was really glad I had hiked the more remote section of the Wall earlier this week, but we had alot of fun. We spent 2 hours finding the public bus that would take us there for $1.50 instead of $30, not only because we didn’t want to waste our time and money on a tour, but because it was a fun challenge. It’s great to travel with a like-minded companion. We walked the grimy Beijing streets day and night, marveled at how fantastic hot showers are, and haggled until we got the prices we wanted. I wish she were continuing on with me to Tibet and Thailand, but she must return to her studies and job in England.

After a week in Beijing, I finally have my permit and train ticket to Tibet!! I will be leaving tomorrow night. The train takes almost 48 hours and it is built at such a high elevation oxygen must be pumped in at some parts of the journey. It just opened in the Summer of 2006 and tickets are extremely difficult to get as hordes of Chinese tour groups make their way to exotic Tibet. These tour groups are also responsible for the amusement park in front of the holy Potala Palace (Home to the Dalai Lama for centuries), but I digress. I’m going to Tibet tomorrow and it’s a dream come true. My next post will be from the Roof of the World.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Greg is now Kung Fu fighting at my old school. Check out the link to his blog “Vagabonding Begins” on the right side of my page. There’s a way to link it in this text, but that’s way too fancy for me. I’m still excited I figured out how to post pictures. (The umbrella was my idea. Greg’s a good sport.)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I spent a day at the Temple of Heaven park. This is where the emperor used to go to oversee sacrifices (it never really said what kind of sacrifices, but I’m assuming animal sacrifices) and pray for good harvests. These buildings are gorgeous, I’m not sure if the pictures do it justice.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
There are some really beautiful parks here. And so many weeping willows!! My favorite tree.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Marta and I somehow got ourselves involved in a hat show in one of the silk shops.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Nostalgic for Russia

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Caligraphy brushes, Beijing

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Behind these vendors is the Great Wall. Look closely, I promise it’s there. (Badalang section… the most touristy of them all)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Of course there’s a Starbucks in the Great Wall complex. Of course. I read that there are actually more Starbucks in China than in the USA and that Shanghai has more Starbucks than any US city.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Marta and I with the Great Wall behind us and a tacky billboard advertising the Summer Olympics that says “One World One Dream.”

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
In an effort to make Beijing more “modern and civilized” the goverment has asked its citiizens to shape up on their manners. They are encouraging them to stop all of the throat clearing, loogies, and snot rockets, and they’re also asking the male residents to stop pulling their shirts up like this. All of these habits are so ubiquitous I think they’ll have to impose a fine to even begin to keep it under control.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tags: , , , ,

4 responses to “There are worse places to spend a week (Like an office job)”

  1. Scott says:

    Instead of Morgan Freeman’s character, do you mean James Whitmore’s character? He played Brooks, the older convict who hangs himself after a little while in the outside world.

    I’m glad you found a kindred spirit, if only for a few days in Peking. You need to get a job with Lonely Planet.

    Starbucks! Are there Hooters in China?

    The university where I teach hosted a contingent of students from Shanghai this summer. I asked them about the Chinese food in the United States — was it to their liking? And they said they liked Panda Express! I couldn’t believe it.

    And while they were here, they abstained from the loogies.

  2. Greg says:

    Awesome pictures young leafhopper!

    So cool that you are hanging out with Marta, she’s great! Love the picture of the guy too sexy for his shirt too, haha!

  3. Adam Shane says:

    LOL! Great pic of Greg!

    BTW, I tried the shirt up thing a day ago… it actually feels quite nice to get the breeze there without sunburnt shoulders… just rather embarasing to rock that style in public.

  4. Susi says:

    Great adventures! Is Beijing like Bangkok? You look great in your pics. As for me, I’ve been working on my belly with all the feasts, as it’s wedding season.
    hope to play soon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *