Is it weird that I’m getting bored with these posts about my past? That isn’t good!! There is nothing boring at all about them, but I feel like I’m living in the past day in and day out. There’s no room for progress!!
I think that I’ll get out the rest of my stay in Beijing this time, and then move on to the present!! 😀 So today is the last day– get ready for a fast ride!! 😀
This day, almost halfway through my trip, I journeyed to Tiananmen Square. It is the entrance to the Forbidden City, which is no longer actually forbidden. Anyone with a spare bit of cash can enter. As a person coming from relatively rich Japan, China was really, really cheap, and all of the tourist locations like this cost almost nothing to get in.
Tiananmen Square was really, really big. I liked the vastness of it and of the Forbidden City, but there was something that really unsettled me. I don’t like violence. To me, guns symbolize violence, and there were military men with guns both patrolling and stationed around various areas. Call me a wimp, but the mere sight of people holding guns, for any reason, unsettles me. That’s all that I’ll say about it.
I encountered troops brandishing long rifles with bayonets as the end many times both in the square, and walking around the streets of Beijing. It was scary.
This was also the Winter before the 2008 Olympics, so Beijing was in the process of getting itself ready for the influx of tourists.
I wandered around the Forbidden City and Imperial Gardens after that. The forbidden city seemed very, very vast. Even had it been filled with people, which it was not, probably due to the severe cold, I think that it would have felt vast, and empty.
Cold, vast, eerie, and empty.
You can’t see it well below, but this was what it looked like just inside the massive gates of the Forbidden City. The following are all pictures from inside the walls of the Forbidden City.
Oh, and here are a few examples of me trying HDR photography with the photos that I’d taken:
The next day: I went across the city to the Summer Palace. This was actually huge for me, because I took a taxi! Alone!!! I don’t know how I survived, but I remember using a map and just pointing at it, probably somewhat frantically.
I was very proud of myself. 🙂 It was a gorgeous palace, wrapped in the cloak of winter as it was, but I was perhaps more satisfied that I managed to take a taxi across the city and not get kidnapped. 🙂 It was a 2 hour drive, and only cost me about $10.
TALK ABOUT AWESOME. 😀 😀 😀 The following pictures are from the Beijing Summer Palace. In winter. 🙂
After this, I packed up and headed with Greg and his boyfriend off to the land beyond Beijing! We went to see the Terra Cotta soldiers in Xi’an, and the ice festivals up in frigid Har’bin. It was a lot of fun!! But all of my pictures, every single one of them, are gone. My darned computer!!
It was a fun trip, though, for the most part! I ate a lot more food, including some delicious dumplings! But I ran into pretty severe problems. We took the night sleeper train to Xi’an, and smoking was only permitted in special areas between the carriages. It didn’t matter, though, as the smoke went EVERYWHERE. I was miserable, and couldn’t sleep a wink. Then a fat old guy who was wearing a suit thought that it was okay to light up in our cabin, and I was not having any of that. I pointed out the nonsmoking sign, plain as day, next to him, and he got into my face.
Then, he got into the face of the guys who came with me, and it turned physical. They were fighting really hard when the train doors finally opened up, and someone got a station guard. OMG. I was shaking and felt completely assaulted, and it colored the rest of my experience. Then, our super-luxurious hotel was filled with smoke from people down the hall. Smoking was allowed in the lobby, too, and on the bus that we took to see the soldiers. The places that I saw were gorgeous, but I made a vow that until I can go to China and have rights as a nonsmoker, I am not going to go back.
It’s too bad that I have those memories, too. I may actually go back to China before there are any laws, and avoid what I can in terms of smoke, but I did find it really limiting. Seeing as I probably wouldn’t be able to go out to eat at all. :/
Have any of you been to China? Did you have any similar problems?