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Hot Pants On The Great Wall

Beijing Travel Blog

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Why don't you ask the kids at Tian'anmen Square, was fashion the reason why they were there..

So as most of you know (or should know) Beijing is China's capital and has about 15.2 million people.   And it feels like it.  Something about China that surprised me, at least in the city, was how dirty it was.  And that fact that people here spit like camels, even the old ladies!  It's almost impressive.  Regardless, it's a fun city and there's quite a lot to do there.  I spent the better part of the first three days touring the enormous grounds of the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Lama Temple, Tian'anmen Square, the Great Wall, and generally getting lost inbetween.  The Forbidden City covered such a massive amount of land, but I was disappointed that you couldn't actually go in any of the temples.

Oh me and Mao.
  This resulted in a mass of people at each door opening trying to squeeze their way through to take a picture of yet another throne and a largely empty room.  The buildings themselves were impressive, all made out of wood and beautifully painted in such detail it's hard to imagine how long it would have taken.  Yet after awhile the 20+ buildings all started to look the same.  Tian'anmen Square is unbelievably big, but it was a bit of a let down since it was mostly just tour groups everywhere and no real sign of any activity otherwise.  This was the site I wanted to see most in Beijing due to the student massacre there in 1989, but there was nothing there as evidence of that happening.  Apparently "it never happened" is the government's official stance.
The 9 lucky dragons of something or other.
  Not like I should have been surprised.

I really enjoyed the Temple of Heaven, though not so much for the temples themselves (which were still very impressive and at least were different than each other), but for the large park surrounding them.  I went on a Tuesday morning and I found where all the unemployed or retired people hang out.  I was amazed to see couples learning how to waltz and perform other ballroom dances.  But I was even more shocked to see about 100 people randomly do some Chinese electric slide in unison to some techno-like song.  Most of them older ladies.  And then there was the group of people doing some group dance surrounded by observers.  I think I had more fun watching the performances than the actual temple.

Yep, that's a helmet. Imagine riding around wearing that? You'd never hear the end of it.
  I got a video of them, but until I leave China and can access YouTube and upload them to the blog, you, my faithful readers, will miss out.  China blocks YouTube and - gasp - facebook!  Something about not wanting the people to assemble (see above reference to Tian'anmen).. yeah, communism for ya.  Also there are cameras EVERYWHERE.  Big Brother is watching you, China.  And I am watching the family hackysack game.

Thursday morning I made my way to the long-distrance bus station and eventually convinced the person that I wanted to GO somewhere on one and found two British girls sitting in the back, also on their way to the Great Wall.  We struck up a conversation and ended up going together to this obscure, not quite legal (why do I keep doing illegal things here? I saw Locked Up Abroad, I should know better) part of the wall where you had to hike up a path and then up this rickety old ladder to the wall.

Haha almost forgot about this guy.. some orthodox Jewish guy with a beard doing an interpretive dance in the park.
  On the plus side there was no one else there!  Other parts of the wall are so commercialized that they have ferris wheels, cable cars, and slides.  But not here.  It was awesome.  The two girls, Lorna and Libby, brought ridiculous outfits to wear while hiking, I guess it started off as a joke back in Cincester, England but ended up becoming reality.  Lorna brought these sparkley black hot pants.  Seriously haha, it was actually very amusing.  Libby brought a balloon saying "I <3 Cincester" and a t-shirt saying she climbed the Great Wall.  Overall it was a lot of fun and I'm really glad I got to share the experience versus doing it alone.   Although I wish the air wasn't so polluted in China so we could have gotten better views and pictures.
In front of part of the Temple of Heaven.

After the Great Wall we split ways and I headed to the Lama Temple.  On my way I overheard someone in English saying they were lost so I turned to help and ended up spending the rest of the afternoon with Becky from England and Devin from Canada (eh?).  We wandered to the Dong Hua Men night market where Devin got somewhat tricked/bullied into buying a deep fried snake on a stick.  He said it tasted like fish.  I tried a little (very little) and it was ok I guess, but I stuck to dumplings.  We had a couple Tsingtao beers after on some rooftop bar where we discussed conspiracy theories.. which was interesting, but entertaining.   

Friday night was my last night with Laura and Tommy.  We went out to this really delicious Japanese restaurant with the most amazing Miso Soup.

Starbucks! Chinese sytle.
  Man, wish I had some right now, it's so cold.  Anyways, afterwards we watched Ace Ventura which I have never seen and I ate some ice cream.  In case you wanted the play by play.  I had a good time with them and only wished they didn't work all week so they could have done some sightseeing with me!  But it was good to see them regardless.. catch you guys back on the flipside!  Aka the US.

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Why dont you ask the kids at Tian…
Why don't you ask the kids at Tia…
Oh me and Mao.
Oh me and Mao.
The 9 lucky dragons of something o…
The 9 lucky dragons of something …
Yep, thats a helmet.  Imagine rid…
Yep, that's a helmet. Imagine ri…
Haha almost forgot about this guy.…
Haha almost forgot about this guy…
In front of part of the Temple of …
In front of part of the Temple of…
Starbucks!  Chinese sytle.
Starbucks! Chinese sytle.
Lorna climbing up the sketch ladde…
Lorna climbing up the sketch ladd…
Hot pants make their debut!
Hot pants make their debut!
Some parts of the wall were pretty…
Some parts of the wall were prett…
Heres looking at you, Great Wall.
Here's looking at you, Great Wall.
And were the three best friends t…
And we're the three best friends …
Yum, what DOESNT look good?!
Yum, what DOESN'T look good?!
Lauras classroom!
Laura's classroom!
Nothing says dinner like a raw who…
Nothing says dinner like a raw wh…
Tommys knockin the boots, in fro…
Tommy's knockin' the boots, in fr…
Beijing
photo by: Deats