Recent Entries


August 19, 2004

Beijing - Tiannamen, & Forbidden City

Our last day in Beijing started with the prime tourist sights, Tiannamen Square and the Forbidden City, with our local guide Gloria.

We took the underground, which was cheap and easy, and gave the locals more staring time with us...

I won't bore you all with details about these places, as they are very well known to everyone.. but instead I will share some of my observations which I think give a Chinese 'local' slant on these places.

Tianneman, is simply a huge concrete square, but symbolically it is so much more. For the older generation Chinese it is a place to come and get 3seconds to look at Chairman Mao, in his very ostentatious mauseleum - not very commy!... I have to wonder if they are queuing to pay their respect to a great leader, or just to check he has really snuffed it... To a younger audience it has the obvious political implications, but this isn't something the Chinese will talk to westerners about.. Even our local guide, didn't want to talk about it.

The square is now a huge crowd puller, but even here there were very few western faces, most of the tourists were Chinese. I did kind of expect more westerners here... but no.. we were the ones they stared at.. it is getting funny now... if you stare back and then pull a face they get all embarassed :-)

On the square you are fair game for more enterprising people.. trying to sell you Chairman Mao watches, Lighters, T-shirts, Photos, postcards.. and they would like to charge you whatever they think you can afford. I extended my Ice Maiden tactic, to include a very angry sounding "Wo bu yao" = I don't want/need and that seemed to get them to give up. Once we crossed over the main road into the gate of the Forbidden City, the vendors dropped away, I guess there is some sort of regulation within the City.

I think the FC, is an awsome example of empirical China, and it oozes history, but some of the history has been spoilt, in the charge for growth and in the persuit of the tourist's money, with signs with the tag line "Made possible by our friends at American Express" and a nice big logo... Also this ancient city, where dynasties ruled the middle kingdom, now has a Starbucks franchise... It is now tucked away right at the back, but our guide told us it used to be the first thing you would see as you walked in the main gate..

I will leave the FC and TS, there as the photos will probably tell you more than my rambling...

We had a couple of hours to kill before heading to the Western Station to catch a night train to Xi'an, so we went shopping...
We got some food in the food court of Wanfujing, the big western style shopping centre in Beijing... They have a weird system.. you choose your food, then get a ticket, then pay at another desk, return to the food counter with your ticket, and get your food, then goto the drink lady, buy a warm drink, and take it to the cold drink counter where they exchange it for a cold one... Why you can't buy from the cold one.. I couldn't work out... but this is what makes it China.. and funny !...

After a nice storm, and a good soaking I dived into a taxi to get my stuff, before going to the station... The taxi driver mistook my pigeon chinese for me understanding chinese.. and he was rabbiting on about something... I just tried to slow him down (speaking - no hope with the driving) and eventually worked out he was talking about the thunder storm.. I mean - does he expect beginners to learn the word for thunder... ermm no.. Toilet, Beer, How much... not Thunderstorm.. anyway he was friendly until I had to break a 100yuan note to pay a 10yuan fare... so I had to give him another 5 to shut him up.. not a problem :-)

So it was off for my first experience of an overnight train... update soon... Night train to Xi'an

Posted by Andilad on August 19, 2004 07:45 PM
Category: China

Really enjoying your updates Andy. Full of colour and Humour. X

Posted by: James on August 20, 2004 06:10 PM

Brilliant beats post cards into you know what! Enjoy and take care

Posted by: dad on August 21, 2004 05:42 AM

Brilliant beats post cards into you know what! Enjoy and take care

Posted by: dad on August 21, 2004 05:42 AM
Email this page
Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

Designed & Hosted by the BootsnAll Travel Network