Stories Travel Information

First 24 hours in Beijing

Using the note the lady a reception kindly wrote explaining I do not eat meat. I would like to be able to tell you what I ate, but I don’t know what it is was. I am 90% sure it had no meat. After which I had a relaxing afternoon on my computer and getting settled.

Settling in was helped tremendously by Friday night at the hostel ( See where my hostel is situated by clicking the main image above) being ‘Dumpling Night’, even better the dumplings were meat-free! At 6:30pm five of us sat down for the most amazing dumplings I have tasted. One of the group was an American girl from Kansas who has been teach english in Korean for the last 4 years. When I asked he what age they were, interestingly, she said would have to work it out because they have different ages in South Korea. It some explaining but, apparently (and I will explore this out some more when I arrive in Seoul), when a baby is born they are 1 years old and every person in the country increases in age on the 1st of January, so a person born in May will not add an additional number to the age until the start of the year. So everybody in the class is exactly the same age number. If you are wonder the age she taught was 7 to 8 years old (western styling ageing). She also gave me some good tips for the country, like how best to visit the North Korean Border, The best area for the foods and how to read Korean. This should take around 2 hours and is much easier than learning Chinese. The others around the table were a mother and daughter from Sweden, The Mother came to meet her Daughter who was working in Shanghai and then they both visited Beijing together. The final person was a Chinese National who is studying in USA and is staying at the hostel whilst back in China to visit.

After this I went to bed and rose early to explore Tiananmen Square. My theory being that it will be much quieter at 7:30am in the morning. As you can see from the photo it was busy and crowd control tactics were in operation to enter the square. Later when I spoke to the lady at the hostel she stated that it will be much busier later.

What struck me most, other than the square its self, was the smog. It is a nice warm morning but it looks grey and overcast. I had read about this but seeing and experiencing it is another thing.

Getting into the square was a mission because the authorities had, correctly, closed off the Subway exit which led directly on to the square because it would have become too dangerous and overcrowded. I had to cross under some roads and find a way into the square. I did but I had to go through security. Once in it was quite an experience as you can see from the photos.

On the way back for breakfast I had a quick looked around the surrounding area but concluded I will do it later when everything was open. I saw 2 interesting photo opportunities on my way back one was ok, the other got me in trouble.

The first one, you can see above by clicking the main image to open the gallery, of the women with the smog mask on the underpass toward the Subway.

The second photo you will never see. At the subway station there was a monk peacefully asleep on the platform up against a pillar. I felt it was such a nice image so I took a photo. A few Subway Police Officers walked by a minute or so later trying to work out what to do with the monk, at which point a lady went and spoke to the Officers, I am now pretty sure (well 100% actually) she was letting them know that I had taken a photo of him. After they woke the monk, they spoke to me and asked me to delete the photo, normally I would stand my ground and have a conversation about it, but it was clear this was not for discussion. So I deleted it straight away and I was free to go on my way to the next subway stop. I am not sure why I needed to delete it, it was such an endearing image, which will now only ever be etched in my memory.

For the rest of the day I am going to relax and read before discovering the area surrounding Tiananmen Square later in the afternoon.

What I have learned today:

  1. The people I meet in different locations are as or more important than the places I visit. They make it. I like seeing the sites but I love meeting different and interesting people more.
  2. I have a small head, I have been trying to find a sun hat in China but they are all too big, it is the same most places I go. I will keep looking.
  3. Add one extra question before taking a photo in China, will this be wrong or get me in trouble? If so don’t take it 🙂

By Mark

The areas of life I am most interested in are great design, the golden ratio, minimalism, Pareidolia (faces in everyday objects), micro living and finally I will be searching for remarkable human beings who use the power of their mind to achieve amazing effects.

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