Monday, March 10, 2008

China - Day 5

Sometime while hanging out with Ann last night, we decided to invite her to spend the day with us exploring the city. I don't know if she was drunk or what, but she gladly accepted. I think everyone was happy she was coming along. We started a little late, not because of all the drinking the night before, but a traffic thing. The traffic in Beijing is horrible.

We were going to start the day by going to the Summer Palace. This was a gigantic palace that was outside the city that the emperors used as their summer house. It was a pretty impressive place. You know, just like my summer home.

The front door to the place was guarded by this dude. It's suppose to a Chimera of sorts that protected the place. I called him Frank. Hi Frank!

As I mentioned before, the place was huge. All the building were starting to look alike after a while. They pretty much looked liked this. It was all very impressive, but they really should've thrown some different colors around. Sure if you looked closely you can see the details are all different and all symbolic of different things. However, if I lived back then and was staggering around drunk trying to find my room, I'd totally go into the wrong building.

This is one of the more interesting things that I saw in the summer palace. Take a look at the photo below.
You can't see what it says in that little sign in the top right, but it's describing the glass thing in the middle of photo. This was actually a heater they used back then. They would burn wood in this little hole, there are pipes that went through the building, and it warms the whole place up. This was hundreds of years ago and they already had central air. Awesome.

There are just way too many photos I took around this place. It was pretty gorgeous. A great thing was, since it was winter, there were many people there. That was fantastic.

We stopped by a snack shop somewhere in the middle of the palace. These people thought of everything! Ok, maybe it wasn't originally a snack bar/gift shop. I had an ice cream cone. You know how long it's been since I've had an ice cream cone? Maybe I'm finally starting to feel a bit more relaxed here.

From the summer palace, we decided to go to the Forbidden Palace and Tiananmen square, but not before stopping for lunch. We went to this internationally famous place known for their Peking Duck. The place was super fancy, especially compared to the regular restaurants around. There were presidents (Nixon, Bush 42, Clinton, etc.) as well as other famous politicans from other countries on the wall. I think Pup was in one of the photos by the bathroom, but I'm sure what he was doing.

So this guy come out from the kitchen with half a duck. He slices and carves the duck with some expert precision. In no time, there was only bones left and a pile of duck meat. That was a pretty delicious meal. I think I took photos with someone else's camera so I don't have any photos of this meal.

On we go to Tiananmen square. It was pretty massive. I don't mean just big. It was ginormous. I couldn't even fathom when they fill this place up. That is a crap load of people. A friend had told us earlier that 1 out 5 people in Tiananmen was secret police. I guess yelling 'Free Tibet' would probably not a smart move here.

Standing here was very strange for me. I couldn't help but think of what happened here not that long ago. The protest, the oppression, and especially of the dude standing in front of the tanks. I will never get that image out of my head. People throw around the word brave like it was nothing.

They should just put the photo of the dude vs. tanks next to the word in the dictionary. I've often tried to imagine what he was feeling at that moment. I don't think I'm anywhere close to being that brave to even be able to imagine. I had all these images rushing through my head when I stood in the square. It was a bit errie. Ok, I digress.

Back in the square. This is the first time since being in China where I can physically see and feel the subtle oppression. It wasn't what I was expecting of course with large banners and signs, but it's there. It's in all the soliders that were around. It's in each guy that seems to just be hanging out cause you know he's secret police (I'm on to you bitch).

I wouldn've taken some pictures, but if they caught you taking photos of the military, it's good buy memory chip.

Eventually, we got to the gate of Forbidden City. I'm sure you've all seen this photo, but here it is again.

On we go to the Forbidden City. Once again, it's difficult to describe how ridiculously large this place this. All this built for technically one dude. Granted, that dude has like 100 concubines, but still. One dude. I'll let the photo do the talking.

See how tiny the people are? This is not because Chinese people are short either. The place is really huge.

This is one of those things that you have to see for yourself. There's really not that much to talk about here that you could read about in a travel magazine.

After we spent a couple of hours walking through this massive place, it was time to move on. The ladies looked in their tour guide book and decided to go to this night market thing. Basically, a bunch of street vendors everywhere.

There was everything on a stick, and I mean everything. Everything from Fruit on a stick.

To the less desirable... centipedes on a stick

I for one was not brave enough to try this. I felt bad for the guy that had to put a stick up the centipede. That must've been difficult. I did have my share of smelly tofu, meatballs on a stick, dumplings, and various meats on a stick. Even chicken wings.

After we had our fill of food, we grabbed a taxi back to the hostel. There was another night of drinking to be had. All was good.

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