View of Wanchun Pavilion at the summit of Jingshan Park, as seen from the Forbidden City.
14 flying hours later, 12 hour time difference, we’ve arrived in Beijing – the city that’s ever-changing, where the concept of self-consciousness went out the window with Communism. Ideas like waiting in a line for your turn, allowing people to get off the subway before getting on, or not pushing don’t quite exist, nor does picking your nose, hocking lugies and other gross behavior (however, only older men seem to be doing this). However, in this state of non-self-consciousness also comes a personal freedom, in which people go to outdoor dance classes and dance by themselves without a care in the world, where people aren’t shy to try something new and look stupid doing it, where they wear what they want and show true enthusiasm for something they like (“your child is so pretty!”) and true honesty when they don’t (“you look like you’ve gained a lot of weight”). It’s what happens when capitalism meets communism, and it’s a refreshing change from the artificiality and politeness and white lies we deal with back home every day.
Despite that our sleep cycle has been turned upside down, we’ve managed to march out to the Forbidden City, Tian Tan (Temple of Heaven) and the bustling night market of Wangfujing district to examine the scorpions (picture right) and starfish on sticks and tons of trinkets and other souvenirs and candy for sale (this after a four hour nap in the middle of the day today). My 5-year-old niece came on this trip with my sister, and she’s been a real head-turner to the locals who are intrigued by her half Chinese features that they all secretly are jealous she has: white porcelain skin, double eyelids and brown hair, plus she’s just that cute. She gets more attention than Jon with his completely white features, though everyone thinks she is his child. She’s been having a field day singing songs from Mulan, her latest favorite movie, and practicing her version of martial arts around with a new pink princess wand we bought for her along with a Chinese princess hat. the
On the rest of our itinerary: a couple parks built in the 1200s, some shopping, and of course, the Great Wall of China. Then we’re off to Guangzhou, then Shanghai. To be continued!