Tuesday, November 30, 2010

China: Beijing

I have always been curious about China, it's a huge place with lots of history that is often vilified in the US media (for taking our jobs!). I was able to find a free week over thanksgiving to fly over there and check things out.The first thing you notice when getting close to the airport is the layer of smog between the earth and sky... I visited Beijing, Xi'an and Shanghai, this post will be about Beijing, the capitol of China.Above is the airport train station, you can see the train leaving shortly after I walked though the gate. But no problem, a new one comes every 7 minutes, this train takes you downtown. My first night in Beijing I stayed in a nice hotel about 20 minute walk from the Forbidden city. But after getting lost, checking into the hotel and dropping off my stuff - it was to late to visit FC, but I was able to walk over to Tiananmen Square.Above is a guard outside Mao's mausoleum.The square is huge too, one of the largest in the world I think. This was also the site of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.Across the street from TS is old Beijing, a neighborhood full of shops and bars. Above is the gate to that hood, it feels a lot like china town in Chicago. Day 2 I made my way over to the Forbidden City.If you watched the last emperor, the FC has not changed much since then. It is large, beautiful and a somewhat of a terrible place to live (if you were forced too).Mao's house, the front door.As you walk through each area of the city, everything is unique, but after a while it seems repetitive. Like seeing the image above over and over again.Again, another gate. The FC is really amazing, one of those places on earth you can't really comprehend.Everything here was built(made in China) in the 13th to 14th century or sooner.THANK YOU! It turns out we help up-keep this place...An old passage way off to the side of the main path.Scary dragon.Local person dressing up like an old school Chinese person.One way to get around Beijing is to ride on the back of a cart attached to a electronic bike. It cost about $1 to go a short distance. Above is the view looking forward from the cart. If you are in China and you see one of these bikes (or cars, or anything on wheels) get out of the way, they don't stop for people.There are also human powered rickshaws. Above people are resting between jobs.It got dark quick in Beijing, the whole country is on one time zone, so I guess they average it out.My day ended at Beijing West Train station.Above is the schedule board, trains leaving today and tomorrow morning. My train is left board center, T43 leaving at 21:36.Here is my waiting room, 1000's of people. At this point I'm thinking to myself "crap, what a mess."And there it is, my train. At the end of my second day, I took a 12 hour sleeper train to Xi'an. I will post more about this soon.

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