Hello from the Capital. Beijing is to Los Angeles as Shanghai is to New York. The nearest subway station is farther than the distance of two stops in Shanghai, but I guess that makes sense, given that Beijing is some three times bigger than Shanghai. Additionally, everything is more spread out, the crowds are more sparse, and you can’t seem to walk down the street without some tourist-type asking you to take pictures of them in front of some famous building. I like how it feels like home.
Chinese Crop Circles:
Beijing Int’l Airport
I was warned about how Beijing is filthy, but so far it seems so much cleaner than even the cleanest parts of Shanghai. Except maybe this. This is the end product of Beijing street food and a whiteboy’s weak constitution.
The sidewalks in Beijing are also not missing half the original bricks and tiles, which makes me miss my longboard painfully. I wish that shipping wasn’t so damn expensive, because between the distance of everything and the maintained asphalt, I would love nothing more than to cruise Beijing on my bamboo. In fact, this post is dedicated to my baby Vanguard. You are missed.
So far, I have settled in just fine. Back in what seems like a previous life, moving to a new place came complete with a feeling of exhilaration and excitement. After staying in so many different places in the past two months, though, this place already feels like a new home. My room is pretty cool. I am sharing the bathroom with Scott, which is honestly a good thing, because I don’t have to worry about anything getting stolen. I also got the better room, with the bed, TV, and desk all in the same part of the room, and the small hallway empty. Scott’s room has the bed and the TV in the wide part, with the desk at the other end of the room. I win. We also got a balcony type thing, which is pretty cool. I got the door to it; Scott’s gotta climb through his window. Owned.
We got acquainted with Beijing’s subway system today. It is a lot different than the Shanghai subway system. Shanghai’s feels a lot more urgent; the doors open quickly, start the warning beeps almost instantly, and slam shut after what seems like five seconds. The trains seem to move quicker, as well, and it is a pretty jerky ride. Beijing’s system is a lot more laid back. The trains start to decelerate at what seems like halfway between stops, and slowly crawl into the station. It is actually fairly annoying, as it seems like such a monumental waste of time, especially when you add up how much time is wasted over a four month period. Eh, I guess it is a nice case of ‘the journey, not the destination.’ Or maybe it is in fact aggravating.
After going to the Hong Qiao Pearl Market, where we met this guy, who made all these kites. They’re cool. I wish I bought one from him.
We headed to the Temple of Heaven (天坛) today. Originally, we were headed to Tiananmen Square 天安门广场) and the Forbidden City (故宫), but in classic PRC fashion, the whole are was cordoned off for some reason or another. Communism. ‘Nuff said. No big deal for us, but it was pretty funny in a schadenfreude sense watching all of the frustrated tourists try to explain to the police and PLA in English (or whatever Eurotrash language they were speaking) how they were only in Beijing for a day and needed to see the Forbidden City. I wish I knew more German—it is such a descriptive language. I know they have a word to the fear of mirrors that comes with the onset of middle age. English is so boring in that sense, but at least Chinese has some similar idiomatic conventions. German next year.
The Temple of Heaven has changed a lot from when I went there three years ago. It was a lot more crowded, with a lot more Europeans. Additionally, most of the awesome old Chinese who played their traditional Chinese instruments along the Long Hallway have disappeared, giving way to buskers. There was, at least, this group of people who played some Peking Opera songs.
Unfortunate, but I guess that’s what happens when you let the Chinese host such a revenue-generating behemoth like the Olympics. Oh well, I guess it’s just part of progress.
They used to shave calves, then roast them alive in this oven as a sacrifice to the gods. Delicious.
Evidently the calf stove was had an ancient Chinese electric starter.