A Chinese Sojourn – Part 1

This trip had been in planning for many years now. The wonders of the world had to be checked off one by one and the Great wall had been pending. And so finally the itching feet took over and we were on the move again, this time taking a 20 hour flight through Japan’s Narita headed for Beijing over the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, covering the swath of the American northern states on the way. While I will in the course of the many more blogs hit upon specific memories of Beijing, this one will be lesser in word content and show you some of the life we saw in that lovely city. We enjoyed the hustle and the bustle of the massive city housing some 20 million people (that is the official count. The unofficial count is much higher for out of state people are not counted as Beijinger’s) and surprisingly found ourselves quickly at home. In many ways we were reminded of Istanbul, and the characteristics were similar, an immensely proud people, focused in their struggle with their daily lives, and blissfully unaware of other languages, especially English. So we spent a week perfecting our inborn talents of sign language, bringing many a smile to the person on the receiving side and managing wonderfully, ably supported by my journalist brother who lives in Beijing.

At the Subway - They are well marked, and tell you in English audio the name of the station it stops at plus the next one coming up
 We saw the sights and heard the sounds of Beijing, which for me was very special for I had been studying some aspects of the Ming dynasty for awhile and reading up heavily on Cheng Hu’s exploits. So to place the person and get a perspective was very important. The Forbidden City, the Yongle emperor Zhu Di’s massive constructions etc were so important and an understanding on why China sometimes closes its borders to ‘barbarians’ was paramount. We hit the standard tourist trail and climbed the great wall, saw the palaces and temples, summer palace, went to Tianjin and finally covered Xian where the 8th wonder of the terracotta warriors was taken in with awe, but I will definitely not make this a tourist narrative for then it would take the tone of a guide book.

The Box Auto - They have stainless steel bodies, or so I believe, and are supposedly more expensive than the multitude of taxis
 But we were luck for we lived the week with my brother and saw Beijing in a different light, with the insiders track woven through. We ate in Beijing’s local restaurants, smelled the streets walking many a mile, enjoyed Uyghur food, had some great Pakistani food at Mughal’s, wandered around the tourist traps of Yashow, the electronic markets and the Pearl market, saw the many jade and pearl factories and crisscrossed the city through the subway with ease. Curiously most of the tourist places were crowded with Chinese tourists not westerners. There were a few Indian tour groups here and there, some Malay Tamil groups as well. And finally we caught up with a college classmate of mine after 31 years…

We saw this at Tianjin - another three wheeled auto
 But there is so much to say and it would be boring if I went through it in a explanatory monotone. So let me try to say it with a few pictures. Take a look at the vehicles and transportation in China in this blog, they range from the basic bicycle (there are so many types of them) to the bullet train.

The taxi is very cheap the minimum charge is 10RMB plus 2RMB

The bus which many use

The Police car - electric drive, mostly seen at large tourist locations

Cycles, mopeds, scooters - you do not see many mobikes though

See the man at peace in the middle of a very crowded road, watching the traffic serenly!!

She has a lot to carry to work
Another tri-wheeler...

You can see the stainless steel boxed auto rickshaws, the same tri-wheel cycle rickshaws, the three wheel taxis and police vehicles and of course the many types of cars, the most popular being the VW sedans. But on the top of them is the Bullet train which we took from Beijing to Tainjin that hit an incredible speed of 327kmph (205mph) for most of the journey.

The Bullet train from Beijing South to Tianjin

They hit incredible speeds - now restricted to 327kmph
It is also a land of contradictions, you see so much of originality, you see a massive amount of meticulously preserved history, but you also see the other side, the knock off industry, the perfection in copying and you will even see the pyramid and the sphinx and you see a people obsessed with their mobile phones (900 million users) and mp4 players…more on all that later..

See how the women keep the sun and dust at bay - the veil wrapped around their faces

The pedestrian crossing has many uses
The Dragon boat at the summer palace
To be continued.................

Click on pictures to see bigger images


Anonymous said…
Thanks for the informative page on China. It is fascinating to read about China , always. The photographs are very nice and , makes me curious to know more.
Happy Kitten said…
nd did you find at least one mallu tea shop?

China is a wonder land and it's citizens are a disciplined lot..
Thanks for the informative post..
harimohan said…
strangely pictures remind me of india !
waiting for second part
Maddy said…
thanks gardnerat60

thanks HK..
no mallu teashop there - though there are 5-6 indian restaurants includinhg an udupi one plus a couple of pakistani ones..

thanks hari..
lots of similarities..
Nice to read your travelogue.Happy to see the Chinese Auto,not different from us.What a surprise it must have been to meet your classmate after 31 years in distant China!!I am sure you both must have enjoyed every moment