Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Beijing Dao Le, Likai Le

Went to beijing last friday and met up with my parents there, just got back last night, late, after a plane delay and a semmingly long flight (about 1h45min), then bargaining for a taxi after sitting on the bus for a few minutes then realizing the bus was going to take about 2.5hours to get home, I finally got home about 8 hours after i left my parents' hotel. It was a good time though, nice to check out the city that everyone in china says you have to go to ("It is so famous, you have to go! the great wall! the forbidden city! they are sooo famous, how can you not go," as any chinese person will tell you) and I had the pleasure of enjoying a different flavor of air pollution for few days. Kidding aside, it was a good time, but I thought a lot of the sites were somewhat overrated (much like many of the other sites in China). Don't have any of my pictures on my computer right now, but i'll try to get a couple up tomorrow. More than anything, it was great to spend a few extra days with my parents, and the restaurants we ate at were all very good. We kind of hit all sides, a shitty american restaurant, a delicious japanese one, mongolian hotpot (the mongols know how to boil meat, rest assured), tibetan, and of course the always scrumpcious and delectable Peking Duck.

Of the tourist sites, I thought the forbidden city was decent, but huge, after about 20min of walking around it all starts to look the same. The Summer palace was ok, but more of the same buildings as the forbidden city. The Great Wall was pretty cool how it goes around the mountains, but I actually expected it to be greater. I guess I'm just an eternal pessimist. The wall was definitely worth going to though. I thought one of the coolest things we went to was the Lama Temple with it's 20meter tall Buddha all carved out of a single tree ("that's one big buddha" as my dad said). Mainly, it seemed like a lot of these sites, the forbidden city, summer palace, great wall, were not as old as I had thought they were. The tour guide kept calling all these things ancient, and explaining something he would say "this is how the ancient chinese did...", but actually by ancient he meant before the rise of communism...he was describing things from the 19th century as ancient. Most of everything we saw was from after the 17th century (according to the guide's facts, which are of questionable veracity) and I don't really consider that ancient. I dunno, I'm just disenchanted with tourism in china, or maybe mass market tourism in general, it all just seems so artificial...go here buy your ticket, push, climb, and elbow your way through the crowd to the famous part that you've seen all the pictures of, take your picture of it and with it, move onto the next site, repeat. It didn't feel as much like this in SE Asia when I was travelling, and maybe not all sites in china are like this, but so many sites i've visited had this feeling. Anyway, I got a very different impression of beijing than I would had I been backpacking or living there, but I think I like shanghai better from the short impression I had.

O, and about the two bathrooms, I have one that is exclusively for showering, and one that is exclusive for toilet use and teeth-brushing. You may think this would make things complicated, especially in those groggy morning hours, and it does...but it would be a pity to leave one bathroom in a virgin and un-defecated state.


Tuor said...

phat. what do you do at your job exactly? how is shanghai? when will you be back in the states? I should be plunking down in Beijing sometime mid-August.

July 9, 2004 10:28 AM  

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