Tuesday, May 27, 2008

China Travel Journal: Day 1, Entry 2

Well, it's 5:30 AM in North America, but it's 5:30 PM for me. So instead of sleeping, I'm going to put up my second(?) entry in my China travel journal.

13 May 2008
9:14 PM

I think the first thing you notice about Beijing is how clean it is. This seems like a contradictory statement to the one I made in the last entry, but it's true. When we left the airport, the sune was shining, the sky was clear, and, as Sara pointed out, there wasn't a single piece of trash on the ground. This last trait doesn't happen on its own, but is maintained by orange-jumpsuited people with litter picks and wheelbarrows. You get the feeling that Beijing is one giant organizsm that breathes with the revolutions of the millions of bicycle wheels that roam the streets. These orange people are like the good bacteria in Beijing's gut, digesting and moving the poisons that occur in a living city. I would say that they were like white blood cells, but the police here have that position covered-- there is at least one on every corner.

I was wondering if Beijing's infamous smog was just a rumor spread by its detractors, but, as I discovered when we went out for dinner, it isn't. I'm not sure where it came from, but there it was. It was hazy, like dew evaporating on a really hot day, but thi was a cool, dry afternoon. I fear that some of my pictures may not come out as crisp because of it.

Dr. Cai took us to a restaurant next door to our hotel, which served us lazy Susan-style. The amount of food was overwhelming-- crispy duck, stringbeans, fried bean paste (yum!), fried rice, pork, fish, ginger chicken, etc. I got schooled by a waitress twice on how to serve noodles with chopsticks. She seemed to have a sixth sense for whenever I would reach for the noodle bowl. Dinner ended with Sara gnawing on a fried duck head. Just picture that.

Oh hey, you don't have to! Actually, upon looking longer on it, I think it's a chicken head. Sara stuck that thing in her mouth, prounced it "chewy,' then spat it out into a napkin.

After dinner, Dr. Cai led us to Tian'amen Square to see the flag being lowered. Unfortunately, we soon became the main attractions. I'm not sure why we didn't see this coming, being a group consisting of several blondes and two African Americans among others, but we soon became aware of people staring at us and secretively snapping pictures. Girls came right out and posed with some of our boys, but the men stood back and creepily tapes us with camera phones. Right now, I'd just like to ask all the Amish I've ever watched on the road to forgive me-- I didn't know how weird and uncomfortable that is until now. I wouldn't mind if someone just asked us for a picture (an Olympic volunteer did just that), but don't treat me like an animal in a zoo. The only people I don't mind staring are the kids because they smile at you if you wave. Oh well, different culture.

A police officer in front of Tian'amen at dusk.

Watched some CCTV today. Most of the coverage was on the quake in Sichuan on Monday. Apparently there is no electricity or drinking water at the moment, which will probably contribute to health issues in the next few weeks. Sad.


PS. Before I continue on with these entries, know that I can't spell. That's all.


  1. I would have tried the chicken head as well! :)

  2. irina: I was on the verge of doing it, but Sara was way ahead of me.