Aug 16, 2006

Random Notes from a Big City

Hey all! I've got about 15 minutes left of net time, so here goes:

  • Logging on to Blogger in Chinese is very amusing. I'm glad I know the system so well; otherwise I wouldn't know what the hell buttons I'm clicking.
  • Beijing is still FREAKING HUGE. On the plus side, it's flatter than Keira Knightley's chest, so walking is not TOO much of a problem....EXCEPT...
  • ...when you're walking with The Wah, who's like some sort of long-distance pedo-machine. (Does that sound bad?!?!?) I actually put the pedometer on today for the first time, and ta-da! We've walked 20,270 steps. And it's only 4:20pm.
  • Tuesday saw us kicked out of the queue to see Chairman Mao (we were carrying cameras that have to be checked into a cloakroom on the other side of the road from T.Square), so we decided to head into the Forbidden City instead. Not really very "Forbidden", as they would have been 20,000 people there at least. It's now actually known as the "Palace Museum". It's massive (but then, everything is). Beautiful temples with some fantastic names - "Pavillion of Deposited Jade", "Actualizing Hope Tower", "Gate of Lunar Brilliance", "Gate of Solar Extract", " Hall of All-Encompassing Universe"...I could go on forever.
  • Yesterday (Tuesday) was HOT. How hot? Damn hot. I got severely burned - again. I no longer look like a Ghost Woman, I look like Porky Pig. Yibida yibida. I ended up buying a huge wacky purple sun visor - too late for yesterday, but nice for today. I think it helped.
  • Today (Wednesday) saw us up early to have another crack at Chairman Mao's Memorial Hall. We got into T.Square at 8:15am, checked our bag, got into the queue, and began the slow funeral-procession-like shuffle to his mausoleum. Some people pushed ahead of us, but for the most part it was an orderly line. Some people bought yellow chrysanthemums to lay at the huge marble statue of the sitting Mao, which greets you in the entrance hall. (Me lay flowers at the foot of an, ahem, "Great Leader"? I think not. But many did). Then you're shuffled through to the bit where Mao lies, under a slab of glass, covered up to the neck in the Chinese flag. To tell the truth? Old Mao's on the slide, if you know what I mean. Looking a bit too waxy. The whole thing is a bit gruesome really, and only lasts about 1 minute. Plus the hour it took to queue. ;)
  • A funny example of East not quite meeting West: in Australia, you can buy little ankle-only pantyhose, to wear under trousers. For businesswomen, it makes it easy to wear shoes without the heat of the hose under your pants. Here, they have them, but obviously nobody's explained they really only go under trousers. So there's all these beautifully dressed women with little ankle pantyhose under their Italian shoes. It just strikes me as freaking hilarious.
  • Also visited Beihei Park & Jiangin Park, both north of the Forbidden City. Both massive (but then, everything is!). Beihei Park is the home of the stunning "White Pagoda", and is home to a lot of cool Buddha statues and the famous "Nine Dragon Screen" as well. Photos to come later. ;)
  • Speaking of photos, we've already nearly used up our 1GB card. Culling to come!
  • Everything here is cheap - it's freaking fantastic! I love it, I love it. We're well under budget, which will be handy heading into Russia and Europe.
  • We're off now to meet our tour group - tomorrow we're going to try to get to the Great Wall (of China, just in case you weren't sure which Great Wall). ;)

See ya later, Nat.