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Published: November 19th 2011
combination of Chinese and western archetecture. Destroyed by British and French in 1860. Who are the Barbarians?
BEIJING BEFORE AND AFTER TRIP TO SILK ROAD IN OCTOBER 2010
The next 4 chapters (Chapters 26 to 29) are of my one month trip ( started 10-10-10)along the Silk Road from the western border in Xinjiang to lower Gansu province. I flew into Beijing and left from Beijing
THE FIRST TWO DAYS (IN BEIJING)
The weather was good for my first 2 days in Beijing, in spite of arriving at night with rainon the last day of very busy Chinese holidays. The taxi drivers tried to charge me $20 for a short ride, with help for the locals, I managed to pay $3 the real fare.
I got to re-visit the Summer Palace in the outer northern suburbs. Many sites were closed for renovations for the Olympics and although back in 2005 I managed to sneak into some, others were not as easy. The Summer Palace is like a mini Forbidden City on a hillside next to a lake and well worth the visit. Earlier in the day I visited the ruins of another garden city called Yungmingyuan. It a combination of Asian and European styles and quiet unique in it's day. Unfortunatly, it was looted
and destroyed by the English and French in 1860. And we wonder why the Chinese call us 'barbarians'...
This morning was just a brief look at the outer Ming Walls, which are now in the centre of this huge expanding city. I just found out that the Americans and their Russian buddies attacked that too in 1900.
THE NEW SUBWAY SYSTEM.
I was really impressed by the improvements in transport around the city. It is now so easy to get to anywhere now. Since the Olympics they have added new subway lines to all over the suburbs, including the 2, (ooops, I mean 3) airport terminals, Summer Palace etc. They run very efficiently and instructions are quite good. The only problem is the printed maps. The city is now so big and with a total of TEN subway lines all criss-crossing each other that the printing, (in Chinese and English) has had to be reduced in size. The lighting is so bad that you need to carry a magnifying glass and torch just to read them. Also, the map looks like a bowl of noodles and although colour-coded, some colours are very similar so if you are colour
blind, you will have a lot of problems.
There are also animated vidoes on the walls of the trains showing you what NOT to do with regards to social behaviour and health and safety. Unfortunately, they tend to look a bit like 'Tom and Jerry' cartoons.
In spite of the good subway system to the airport for my I MISSED my booked flight to western China! The airport now has 3 terminals. I thought there were 2; so with confusing information, and being mis-directed on the way, I now had to wait seven hours for a very late flight; at lest there was no extra charge. The problem is it arrives at my destination of Urumqi in Xinjiang at 1 AM in the morning!!
******* END OF SILK ROAD-
**BEIJING BEFORE HOME------
At the end of the exhausting one month journey spent one or two quiet days in Beijing again. The weather was not too cold, although I till had my cold. Many autumn colours still around , even big yellow leaves blowing around the wheels on the now very overcrowded streets. I spent another full day in the Forbidden City, since
I missed part of it due to closures of areas for renovations for the 2008 Olympics. This time I explored more of the living quarters of The Last Emperor (as in the movie); a very pleasant place to live as could imagine.
The last day I explored the new Olympic area, of the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube. The Water Cube has been made into a water theme park, complete with karaoke in the pool- very weird.
The sunset over the Water Cube occurred at about 3PM in the afternoon thru the very thick smog. The next day from the plane, the air was very clear over Beijing; a good finish to the trip
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