Blogs from Beijing, China, Asia - page 13

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Asia » China » Beijing June 30th 2013

I spent most of today trying to acclimatise to the heat and humidity in Beijing. The temperature is in the mid-thirties and the air is thick and heavy. I spent the morning at the Olympic Park, mostly because it was an easy excursion - very simple to get to, and easy to wander around. By lunchtime I was exhausted. The Olympic Park was not that interesting, aside from having the opportunity to compare it to London's, and (unsurprisingly) it was very similar, though Beijing has the more interesting stadium (the Bird's Nest) but doesn't make such good use of green spaces as London. I was surprised by how busy it was - it is still popular as a tourist destination with Chinese tourists (I doubt the London site is visited by many English tourists), and the ... read more
Water cube

Asia » China » Beijing June 30th 2013

In the early 1600s Jesuit missionaries arrived in China from mainland Europe, bringing with them Enlightenment-era knowledge of astronomy. The Qing rulers put them in charge of the Emperor's Observatory and commissioned Ferdinand Verbiest, a missionary and particularly brilliant astronomer from Flanders, to design a number of instruments (though only after Verbiest had survived not only the dangerous journey from Europe and then imprisonment and exile in China due to his faith, but also a public test, set by the Emperor, against his Chinese counterpart, to decide whether Chinese or European astronomy was superior). The result was a set of beautifully-designed bronze astronomical instruments that are still preserved today on the original observatory platform - as much effort was put into the aesthetics as it was into the mechanics of the instrument design. Pre-telescopes, it was ... read more
Sextant
Altazimuth
Celestial globe

Asia » China » Beijing June 30th 2013

Black Bamboo Park is one of the less touristy parks in Beijing and is used by the locals for an amazing range of activities. During my walk around I saw a group of older people ballroom dancing, another more conventional exercise class, a meditation group, countless pairs playing badminton (or a popular game I have seen a lot in Beijing, where groups of two or three play keepie-uppie with a football-sized shuttlecock), various individuals in more secluded areas practising traditional Chinese string and wind instruments, one drummer and one singer, and, of course, plenty of joggers. Despite all this activity the park felt quiet and the heavy smog made the park feel eerie and creepy, like the setting of a Victorian ghost story (though probably shouldn't romanticise environmental disaster too much). In the morning I had ... read more
Black Bamboo Park
Black Bamboo Park
Black Bamboo Park

Asia » China » Beijing June 30th 2013

I am staying, as a lot of tourists do, in a hostel in one of Beijing's hutongs. These are networks of old-style avenues of low grey buildings, and have much more character than the rest of the city, which is mostly made up of anonymous high-rises. The hutongs are very distinctive: all the buildings are painted grey, with the gables and windowframes dark red. The streets are narrow but bustling, and not so narrow that the Beijingers are dissuaded from attempting to drive cars down them, and bicycles and scooters hurtle down them with horns pipping and bells ringing furiously. I also often see sellers driving scooters with trailers or carts on the back, shouting as they go along, publicising their wares. Despite all the activity the hutongs are relaxing and refreshing to walk through compared ... read more
Street sign
Hutong home
Hutong transport

Asia » China » Beijing June 28th 2013

We booked our flight from Tokyo to Beijing using China Eastern airlines with some hesitation. In the end, we were swayed by the price of the ticket which was far cheaper than the alternative options, choosing to ignore the somewhat dubious airline reviews. In what appears to be true China Eastern style, we spent almost 2 hours without explanation on the runway in Shanghai, and finally arrived at our destination after almost 10 hours of travelling, topped off with a hair-raising taxi ride to our hotel. In an attempt to get a quick, safe meal, attempting to give our bodies time to adjust before trying out the numerous street food stalls, we went for dinner in a hotel restaurant. Staring wide-eyed at the menu, we were greeted with pictures of whole turtles in stew, roasted pig ... read more

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Asia » China » Beijing June 26th 2013

Beijing was enveloped in a smog when I arrived - visibility was less than 100m. This has the effect of making it hard to get a sense of the city's size, so it doesn't really feel as big as it is, and also making it hard to navigate, since you can't see any landmarks. Still, after a month in Mongolia, the city made my head spin. At least the Subway is easy - everything in English, air-conditioning (sometimes makes me want to travel by the Subway, just to cool off) and no busier than the Tube, even in rush-hour. They were even playing a Wallace and Gromit cartoon on the platform screens at one stop (as well as lots of footage of David Beckham's current trip to China). While I was on the train from the ... read more
Market stall featuring skewered squid, prawns and lobster

Asia » China » Beijing June 11th 2013

My adventure with China was slowly coming to an end… Once again lots of different thoughts were flying through my head and I had very mixed feelings about the next part of my trip – was happy to be leaving as new countries waited to be explored but at the same time sad as even though it took a while to comprehend a few things around here I got to love this amazingly bizarre country! Well… comprehend probably is way too big of a word here, as some things are simply beyond comprehension in China… anyway… as overwhelmed as I was during my first week in China, I learned to deal with any obstacles eventually… And what can I say – sometimes I’d rather face a challenge than have everything handed to me… So even though ... read more
on the way to Forbidden City
reading a paper in the hutongs
the Forbidden City...

Asia » China » Beijing June 2nd 2013

Our very last meal of the trip was a traditional Peking Duck. Our anticipation had been growing since the previous day. For an appetizer we had hit up the Beijing night market where you can buy just about anything deep fried; and I do mean anything. As the street vendor said, "You want eat testicles - BALLS" as he included an appropriate (or one could argue inappropriate) gesture. As we walked away he said, "Penis, you want fried penis" as he held up a penis on a stick. There was fried snake, birds (yes, the kind that land on your windowsill), starfish, sea horse, scorpions, silkworms, tarantulas and many, many more. We figured, "When in Rome" and jumped in to try something. Feeling refreshed from our massages and diagnosis by a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, I ... read more
Jess
Pre Silkworm Toast
Post Silkworm Disgust

Asia » China » Beijing June 2nd 2013

Our last day full day had finally arrived, but we still had much to look forward to. Our first stop was a Jade Museum. Here we learned the history of Jade and more importantly how to tell fake Jade from real jade (the noise it makes when you hit two jade pieces together). We were then given time to walk around the store. Not very interested in buying Jade I took to looking at the intriquite carvings. A small Chinese woman found me and started following me around the store asking me questions. She started with the normal “Where are you from” to which I responded “United States”. She then asked me “What State?” a question I found oddly specific. I replied “Virginia”, which she then yelled “13 original colonies!!!!” This caught me off guard and ... read more
Great Wall
Great wall (hi abby)
Great Wall

Asia » China » Beijing » Changping » Changping June 2nd 2013

After a rough evening due to misconstrued information by our tour guide, Jing, the tour bus was filled with excited about our upcoming fun filled day. Jing had swindled us into spending $39 on a Rickshaw ride and a dinner with a local family the night before. In order to make up for her error she added a few extra stops to our trip for the day - we were going to stop for a picture with the WaterCube and Bird's Nest as well as visit a Traditional Medicine Doctor. As we climbed on the bus everyone was ready for the Wall of China. Some of us were dressed in our best for pictures. Clearly the Diva Squad (a group of 4 from Texas) were in dresses and heels for the occasion. Of course, the Colombian ... read more
Hero Certificate
Elmo
Bird's Nest Disney Scam




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