900 year old Cypress.
Looked like rock to me
Catapulted into the political epicenter after 18 hours of travel, the patriotism is super palpable in Beijing. Over the next four days, I tip-toe around religious topics and some seemingly very personal political topics ( IMO: the influence of Mao is still totally alive.) But everything else is fair game and multi-questioned; mostly revolving around my age, nationality, why I'm traveling alone and my hair-of all things. What, bleach blond isn’t the norm?
Nope. Many people: mostly school girls giving peace signs, and tiny toothy old men, the lingering ladies and then…the eye-ballin' creeps-every country’s got ‘em. (tip: move swiftly and loudly if persistent.) Well, they’ve never seen anyone with blond hair, ever. It only got super weird once in the History museum in Shanghai. Started out fairly normal, they gesture to ask if I'll take their picture, sure no problem. Then they motion for me to get in the picture with the other 2, ok. Before I knew it, these 3 middle eastern dudes were swapping out of the picture each holding my hand-like wedding/courting/linking fingers kind of thing! I was outta there...and I tightened my operation up from there on out.
Other than hearing these one girls
giggle 'Desparate Housewives', it was very flattering and quite frankly good for my ego. Aside from taking pictures with hundreds of strangers and partaking in mild porn aka Chinese Reflexology massages...
Here's my super fantastic/obvious highlights in Beijing: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, even the Temple of Heaven where morning excercises were so fun to watch!
My number one experience in Beijing though, I absolutely adored:
Hotong village via rickshaw: These neighborhoods are similar to historic districts and have been preserved for the traditional way of living. No running water and no private restrooms. I had an amazing home stay with Mr. Wong and his wife (ask me later what he said about his daughter who was our translator) He was trained as a chef and cooked for the Last Emperor in the Forbidden City and made a traditional Mandarin multi-course dinner. Many beers later and a great exchange of questions asked of each other, the night was over. The man on the bike was taking me home.
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