Wandering Around in Beijing – Part 2

There is so much to say about the short visit, as one is supposed to do when the things you see are so alien to you, but then again it takes a lot of space, so I will just hit on some highlights. Yes, we saw the awesome forbidden city, we climbed the great wall (it is not so easy – mind you), saw the summer palace and the temple of heaven, visited the lama temple and went to the very interesting markets like the Yashow, the antiques market at Panjiayuan and lolled around the Tiananmen square. We then went off the beaten track and took the bullet train to Tianjin and saw the city and went to Xian to see the terracota warriors…

At the Panjiayuan antique market
One thing you are made aware of often is Feng Shui. This is part of ancient and everyday life in Beijing. While it was frowned upon after 1949, people still follow it and had followed it since ancient times. The dragon line goes right through the Forbidden City and beyond…the line that only the emperor can walk on…Some Beijing natives admit that it has its origins in the ancient Vastu from India brought along by Buddhist monks and got a little altered along the way.. The basic assumptions are that the key to living a harmonious and rewarding life is to reflect the balance of nature in daily life, which principally involves the following concepts: yin and yang, qi , and the five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Many a person connects up immediately with India as the source of their religion Budhism, but the version followed in Beijing is Daoism (or Taoism) where one follows the tao or the way.

We did get pulled into a house of Chinese herbal medicine, and to be sure it was a kind of tourist trap where they hold your pulse and tell you what is wrong with you, much like we have in Ayurveda. The Mexican couple with us wanted to know more about how it was in Ayurveda and wanted to go to Kerala to figure it all out and we muttered words of encouragement for they seemed gung ho about the prospect..the cost of the CHM was astronomical (some 400$ for a 3 month supply) and nobody purchased any of the professed elixirs to a great life ahead, and I read in the same days paper that the stuff which is commonplace in Chinese medicine (they do not use much of allopathic medicines there) is priced at $15 for a few months supply and people were complaining that it was already double what it was a month ago...

At the village
The village - a happening place
The Village is the happening place in Beijing for foreigners, where you have the up market shops and many a different type of cuisine. You also have the massage centers where we had a fantastic foot massage done after the painful feet following many days of walk walk…..The yashow market was fun lukki lukki chipi chipi chants following us along the way (means look look cheap cheap). That is also where the Indian grocery shop is located…

Temple of heaven
The summer palace

 But the secret to the health in china is green tea. Many a person you see on the street or in any office has his or her own flask with a bunch of green tea leaves. They keep topping it up with hot water as the level goes down and take sit right through the day. Keeps all the nasty microbes at bay it seems. There are many brands ranging from a few dollars a kilo to many hundred dollars a kilo.

Lama temple
As you walk along Beijing’s parks, or open green spaces you see groups of people doing Taichi. They are employees taking a break and loosening up, it seems. As they explain - Thousands of mostly older people begin their day with a session of taichi (taijiquan) or qigong (exercise to channel qi or energy) in Beijing's parks and other open spaces. The younger people of course exercise mainly their fingers, you can see them texting on their smart phones incessantly and watching the latest recordings from TV on their phones or mp4 players while driving, sitting or standing in trains. That reminds me, even the beggars in trains (they are very rare mind you – I guess it is illegal & risky) are high-tech. They carry recordings of their begging chants and play them through mini PA systems strapped to their body.
A look at the skyline
One of the most fascinating things you see in the mornings as shops open is the Japanese style pep talk provided by the boss to all employees, who line up dutifully for a 5-10 minute session. I am not sure what is said, if it is strategy for the day or just pep talk, but you can see it in all small establishments like restaurants etc.

Tian Jin Colonial building - soon to be dwarfed by the modern
There is still more to say, but some other day I guess…Beijing is a study in contrasts, you have some access problems to the internet and many sites like blogger, youtube and facebook are not accessible, and then you have Chinese version of Youtube…but in many ways you can see things you can connect to with India…and someday I will tell you about the Chinese harkara, the dragon lady, a bit about tasty Uyghur food and the trip to Xian and slurping kanji (rice porridge) and pickle for breakfast 30,000 feet in the clouds….

At the forbidden city gates
The other side of Tiananmen square
I will stop prattling about China with this and get back to tradition with the next blog, but will recommend a visit to Beijing anytime, if you are interested in History and travel…


harimohan said…
Tks Maddy for tkaing us to Beijing
next time do travel in train from beijing to Lhasa and let us know
Maddy said…
thanks hari- Lhasa was so far away we left it for another time..