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Published: April 12th 2007
I woke up the next morning before Bekah so I could quickly finish my online class in the lobby of the Lotus hostel. Skype was installed on the computer so I logged in and was able to chat with Kaffy. "Happy Easter!" He said.
I did not even know it was Easter. Actually I thought Easter was a couple of weeks into the future. But I don't believe that Bekah and I could have spent the day in more accordance with the true celebration of Easter.
We rose on the second day and left the Lotus Hotel in search of consumption. We entered a supermarket and collected all the foods Jesus would have collected if he would of mortally existed in our day: bread, ham, cheese, mayonnaise, peanut butter, strawberry jam, cookies, tea, and gum. We returned. We prepared. We chose a convenient and cheap mode of transportation (couldn't find a donkey, so we took the bus) to take us to the city of the people. (Tiananmen Square) At the city, the people rejoiced to see us. We were bombarded with gifts, all gifts discounted at a special price for us; kites, maps, food.... Families handed over their young.
(A lady literally came up, handed me her baby, then took about 10 steps back to take a picture of us. Trust and Faithfulness ladies and gentlemen.)
After flying our Kite in commencement of our entrance into the Holy City, our spirits were turned towards Mao. Like Mary, a voice was telling us to visit Mao's tomb. Alas, upon coming across the entrance to his chamber, we made an astonishing discovery!
*Notice:Chairman Mao Memorial Hall is closed for construction of repairs from Mar. 3rd to Sept. 20th.
Chairman Mao has awakened from his chamber! He has risen! Truly, he has risen to bestow life and guidance to the Chinese people once again! Mao was man, now he is God!
The Temple of Heaven was calling us! As we entered Heaven's gates, we were surrounded by peace and tranquility. The streets were lined with...more rocks and lush green grass. The gates to the Temple were an astonishing red and the intricate Gold lining was gleaming against the brightness of the Sun. We were surrounded by gardens as lush as the descriptions of the Garden of Eden. These gardens felt untouched by human hands. A peculiarity in this special
Kingdom was that the sun was bright, but not so bright that it hurt your eyes, only bright as in it gave life to the plantlife, the gardens, and caused the temple to omit a devine glow.
We stumbled along an unbeaten path and followed a blind man to the midpoint of the Divine Kitchen and the Fasting Palace. We passed under golden arches, where musicians played the Chinese flute sweeter and with more soul than an angel plays the harp.
Weary from our journey through this magical Holy Land, at dusk we came to rest beneath a white gazebo amongst a garden of the most beautiful pink flowers, in the brightest of their bloom. And it was there that we reached our fulfillment as we feasted on peanut butter sandwiches, ham sandwiches, cookies, and popcorn and chanted "Blessed is Mao, blessed is Mao!"
When we left the Temple of Heaven we were brought back down to the reality of God's earth. Yes, there are many trials of patience outside the borders of the Heavens. Ok, I think it is time to cut the religious analogies out now. 😊
We went to a very famous teahouse
in Beijing: Lao She Teahouse. It costed us 100 yuan for a ticket, but I thought it would be worth it to see genuine Chinese performances. I think 3/4 of it was traditional and 1/2 of it was traditional and worth seeing. When the show was over, their were tuk tuks waiting outside. Bekah and I wanted to ride in one, but I heard they will scam you every time. I bargained hard with one driver. We negotiated 15 yuan. I kept making it clear to him: 15 yuan, both of us, together! 15 yuan! 7.5 yuan each! "Okay okay" He said. We tried to be friendly with him during the ride. We asked him what his name was, he showed us a few things... We reached the end of the road, not the destination we had agreed on, and he wanted 20 yuan for each of us! I argued, I seriously gave him the most intimidating look I could give him. (Bekah said she could see that I was racking my brain for a line of Chinese cuss words. Being very new to cussing in Chinese, it's hard to think them up at the right moment, so I settled
with "the look".) I argued some more. Pissed off, I gave him 40 yuan and walked off. I suppose I'll handle that situation much better if there is a next time. Tuk tuk drivers will rip you off. It is a given.
The last significant leg of our trip was the train ride home. I had dreamed of leaving on the overnight train, Sunday night on a hard sleeper, and reaching Dalian Monday morning where I would get straight off the train and into teaching my Monday morning classes. Saturday morning I enquired about train tickets. The soonest train was leaving Monday afternoon 6:00 pm and would arrive in Dalian 6:00 am Tuesday morning, and to top it off, it was a hard seat. Twelve hours on a hard seat. I reluctantly booked the ticket, and called work to cancel for Monday. When we left Beijing and arrived at Beijing Zhan (the train station). Bekah and I were literally pushed by the crowd of hundreds onto our train. There were not any seats, and there were people standing around. I was confused, thinking these people were from the last train and were getting off soon. They didn't. Bekah
and I found our seat(s), (we had to show our tickets for claim on our seat, forcing a couple of men to stand), we were both crammed onto a bench seat with our luggage and Chinese people on the floor, in the aisle, in the stairwell...And it was like that for a miserable 12 hours. I was dehydrated but tried to drink as little water as I could to avoid going to the bathroom. I kept reminding myself that at least we had this measly bench seat and not the dirty floor. I also kept thinking of the trains to Auschwitz and how we had it so much better. But even my optimism was exhausting....
Ah, Dalian.....so nice......
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