Beijing: Part One
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 11 of 42 › view all entries
slightly unnerving here in Beijing. I've been reading 'Wild Swans' by
Jung Chang and looking at the history of China a little bit. The book
has been a bit of an eye opener, I am ashamed to say that I knew very
little about Communism before I came here, and what I have read is
really scary. Walking into Tiananmen Square and being searched, and
watching as all the soldiers march up and down with their red
Communist armbands on kind of frightens me.
A much less important point, but very annoying on a day to day basis is the staring we are getting. In Shanghai we sort of got used to people asking for their pictures taken with us, although it definatly got tedious. Here however I have been very aware of people just standing and staring at us. Not subtly, no no, but stopping, in their tracks and just STARING. It really is (to be unarticulate about it) doing my flamin' head in. I don't know what it is going to be like in a months time when the Olympics start and tourists start flocking, no one is going to get any work done. It is reassuring to hear from other people that it is not just US they are staring at, but still, doesn't help the paranoia!!
Speaking of the Olympics, I am not altogether sure that the city will be ready in time.
On Sunday we went to one of the weekend markets to practise our bartering skills. I think I'm getting quite good, and we have developed a 'good cop bad cop' routine where I really want it, but Lisa says it's too expensive and makes us walk away! We bought a nice wooden chopstick set for 1/3 of the initial price and some fans.
In the spirit of investigating Communism we visited the mauseleum in Tiananmen square. We had to get up pretty early as it closed at midday and we had to queue and get searched before we went in. The most shocking part was seeing people buying flowers and laying them in a room before the coffin, hundreds and hundreds of flowers. It is absolute madness. Well, I say the most shocking part, but I guess seeing the preserved corpse of Chairman Mao is not something you do everyday! We filed past, then into the shop, selling all manner of Mao souveniers. So if you get a lifesize Mao statue as a present, look appreciative!!
We have thought a lot about this (this paragraph mainly consists of ramblings), and how the Chinese can still hold him in such high regard.
Our train to Xi'an was not til the evening so we spent our last day on 'Silk Street' in the markets. Wow our bargainning skills are fanTAStic. Among other things we bought a painting for 40Y (3 pounds) when she started at 250Y (18.50 pounds!!) We actually walked off twice and she shouted at us to come back with lower and lower offers until we looked at each other and agreed!! We were bidding on things we didn't even really want just to see how low we could get them – SO much fun!!