Monday, June 04, 2007

Things I Did Today

So I'm in Beijing. Mostly in one piece. The train ride was pretty painless, except for the not showering for about 36 hours and the horrible train food. I got to talk to a lady in the car, who was fairly nice, despite her rants about Mexicans, gay men, and Canadians. All of which I felt compelled to object to.

I got in, the taxi driver attempted to get me to settle on a fixed price of $90 which I eventually refused, mostly on a hunch rather than anything else. And the more low key cab driver I hailed, ended up charging me $16. So hooray for me for avoiding being cheated?

My impressions of Beijing so far are fairly good. The traffic isn't as bad as I thought. And the people are surprisingly friendly. I've had several conversations today, pretending to be Taiwanese. I think I might have to change my story though, I had a rather extended conversation with a student I met in the Temple of Heaven, where I think my story started to wear a little thin. However, I didn't particularly want to come clean because he already told me he hated Japanese people.

Anyway, I went to the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven today. And walked to both of them. I've been on an island for too long. I'm used to everything being close and convenient. By the time I'm halfway to a place I feel like I should be there already. The Forbidden City was surprisingly easy to get into and rather painless. Admittedly I was there at 8:30 in the morning when it opened which probably helped. I thought I was kind of jaded about Chinese art, I mean I've seen the National Palace Museum in Taiwan and countless others, so I wasn't really sure if the pieces in the Forbidden City were going to be anything new. Well, apparently the KMT took a lot of stuff when they went to Taiwan, but they sure left a hell of a lot. And most of that stuff was heavy and rather spectacular. There were things I think I had never seen before and probably will never see again. Actual Qing dynasty armor, sculptures made out of jewels, incredible carvings. It's pretty eye popping. And the building itself is also pretty spectacular, although it just got renovated, so sometimes it felt a little bit too new. Also, for my misanthropic self, there were too many people. The Imperial Gardens were probably some of my favorites because they had the capacity to contain a lot of people.

Beijing is incredibly dusty, but thankfully less hot, and I sweat less. Which is generally good. Just things are a long ways away and I can't use my ATM card. I got a tip about that from this Norwegian kid I met. I'll give it a try and hopefully it will work this time.

The Temple of Heaven was pretty cool. I mentioned about I got into a conversation with a student. Which was kind of interesting, although I was nervous because I felt bad about lying. (I'm a terrible liar.) Some of the sights inside were kind of a rip off, but the park itself was really nice. Very peaceful. You almost forget there's a giant city outside of it.

Anyway, that's all for now. Strangely enough the food here is much easier on my stomach than the food in Hong Kong. Perhaps it 's 1st world food I'm going to have trouble adjusting to?

Over and out

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