Made in China: Beijing

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Three cities, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, all Made in China, and all so much different…  That’s how it is with this new China. Traveling around it on the high-speed rails is as if by magic moving in all sorts of worlds.

I recall China from memory…

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Beijing: get the vibe – watch the video:

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First stuffiness. Sick and weak, I couldn’t fully breathe or eat. I turned the aircon full throttle, went out of the room… It was only at breakfast, when I learned that the melon can help me. It helped (don’t forget!). My yin and yang equalized and … our Beijing began!
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Beijing. Tienanmen Square.

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Because our flight from Dubai to China took us right to Beijing, all the Chinese things – both: those assumed and predicted thus expected and those that we had no idea could happen at all – hit us first there. So, for example, a common desire to take selfies with our girls, omnipotent bureaucracy and the so-called ubiquity of so-called special services, different kind of courtesy, lack of restaurants in tourist areas and crowds, crowds, crowds – anywhere, anytime.

What is interesting, or obvious, is that during season in Beijing in every moment there are about a million tourists, but… Chinese tourists! European tourists or American tourists appeared on our radar less frequently than Halley’s comet. Therefore, we – and especially Tosia and Malina – were perceived as a wonder of nature. Those people had never seen two little blond girls and just couldn’t resist the temptation of taking photos with them – either asking permission (rarely) or not (all the time).

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Beijing. Forbidden City.

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Beijing is a great city with lots of places worth visiting … Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, the National Stadium, or even the Beijing Zoo. You must also be able to get around. It would seem that motorized rickshaw would be best. But … Look out! Beijing rickshaw drivers are often scammers and con artists (for example, we agree that the ride from point A to point B will cost 30 yuan, and after we reach the destination the driver says 350, because “he chose a tourist route”. And he no longer smiles). Already the first ride caused this kind of trouble, and the next was the same, with a difference that the rickshaw driver was a likably looking elderly lady who nonetheless requested triple the agreed price. So, we forgot rickshaws and switched to public transportation (subway, bus).
At the entrance to each subway station it gets a bit invigilatory – the screening of baggage, suspicious looks, but you can get used to. All passengers in a subway car wield in their hands the latest Samsung or iPhone (or their local substitutes), so it is filled with peculiar glow.
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Beijing. Temple of Heaven.

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In general, Beijing, once so monolithic under communist equilibrium, is changing style. It took a visible turn towards global culture and fashion.
For example, Chinese teenagers usually wear their backpacks, shorts and t-shirts, so in this respect the street looks more like New York’s Chinatown, than China with our old notions type of guys in uniform a la Mao on bicycles.
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Beijing. National Stadium by night.

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Scooters everywhere, as expected, except that they are not combustion-engine-driven but electric! (for city environmental rules). Everywhere digital revolution, cars on the streets en masse good, with particular fascination with German brands (cult of VW and Audi) Here and there you can spot KFC and McDonald’sy (with interesting additions to a global menu, e.g. McNoodles in five flavors and dishes based on rice).
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On the other hand, you can feel the air of the mythical Chinese… The very first night I looked through the window of our hotel (in the style of “traditional hutong”) and saw in the dimly lit alley below the ghost of Bruce Lee – a wiry guy with naked torso who zealously and superbly practicing nunchaku.
You can see it on our video – it is somewhere in the first half of it.
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To be continued…
(in the next episode – Made in China: Shanghai)
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Written by mereczonthego