Last Day (or so) in Beijing

So in the last blog about Beijing I totally skipped the last 40 or so hours we spent there and so I thought I just might put those adventures down. When reflecting on our overseasness, although we spent 17 days in Japan and only 4 days in China, I can’t stop thinking that those 4 days totally dominated everything I will remember about this trip.

(But if you read just one thing, I recommend the Tiananmen Sq stuff. Just saying)

Anyway. Here are the pics avec some detail via captions.

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Super-crowded subway. Never experienced crowds like it. We pulled into a station with the train already stuffed with people and saw a SWARM just waiting to board and I just grabbed Dee and said, “Let’s get off.” She agreed.

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This woman was playing badminton in the street and then suddenly stopped to play with a dog.

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The Subways have this “step” at all entrances. Not very friendly to anyone with disabilities.

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Crowds on Wangfujing Street

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I pretended to take a photo of Dee so I could capture this woman’s t-shirt. “Because Cats”. I wonder if this crew is related to “Because Fixie” back here in Brisbane?

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So we went to a Japanese restaurant in China. Mostly cause it was a bit LOL. And this Ramen in the foreground was literally the hottest meal I have ever experienced. Somehow I got through it. I was pretty determined it should be said. All the while I was snotting everywhere and coughing and my eyes were watering and naturally I was drinking all the beer that I could get delivered. But wow. It was so fantastic. Like climbing a mountain or something.

I will never forget you: super-hot-ramen-from-a-japanese-restaurant-in-CHINA.

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The cops have this strobe-light flashy thing on their shoulders. It was like DISCO!

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This is that massive street. As you can see it has 7 lanes of traffic in both directions. But then plenty of space at the sides for buses and bikes. It’s crazy trying to cross as a ped. It takes at least a minute (if you’re fast).

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In the subway they have advertisments streaming through the tunnels like they are neon flip-books. It is surreal. The slightly disjointed animation zooms past but reads like a movie. It is entirely intelligible. Obviously like if you could read Chinese.

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The TV building which must be an homage to the La Defence Build.

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Of course we did the “Peking duck thing” — it’s a thing right? We found this place at the bottom of some massive Mall. It was probably the equivalent of a Sizzler back in Brisbane. But it was still amazing and super-fun and really, really tasty. Just sayin.

CRUSH

But earlier in the day we got stuck in one of those human traffic jams I had been dreading. It just came upon us so suddenly and before we knew it we were in a pretty evil situation. It was one of those experiences where you wonder if a panic somehow started then a bunch of people would die.

It was just outside Tiananmen Square (which was where we were heading) and it was just getting so insane with people I thought it best we turn back. See what I didn’t realise was that Mao’s Tomb — the most popular attraction at the Square — only opens until 11am (WTF?). And it was about 10:30am at this point. And this was like a Sunday. We had accidentally visited China’s Number 1 attraction at SUPER-PEAK-TIME.

So everyone was either rushing towards the tomb or coming home. And bizarrely (for 10:30am) we got stuck in the crush of people trying to leave a tourist attraction and then come home via the subway station.

And we were suddenly in the middle of an epic amount of people all wanting to enter the subway and literally just one female police officer and an army person (who didn’t seem to really want to help) who were tasked with regulating the amount of people entering the tunnel through this tiny gap. And so we were stuck there for about 10 minutes with no chance of retreat or side-step. The only way out was to advance. And everyone was pushing and some were getting narky with the cops and it was brutally hot and an old guy next to me was having trouble keeping this little 4 year old kid from getting squeezed.

It got to the point where in my head I started strategising for potential disaster.

  1. Go with the flow
  2. Don’t fall down
  3. if you do fall down, get up as quick as you can.
  4. don’t fucking fall down

Still the weight of people all around us meant we getting more and more trapped. That sole policewoman (and that nonchalant army guy) kept opening and closing the gate and we seemed to be making some progress. All the while the policewoman was dealing with this irate punter who it seemed was cut off from his family. It was madness.

We eventually got through and I had learnt a valuable lesson.

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LATER THAT DAY

So I went back to the Square when it was like I had the place almost to myself. This place is nuts.

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Chinese Tourists getting a photo in front of the big Mao mural in front of the Forbidden City entrance.

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Ok there was this super cute kid doing that ribbon-dance thing. Note the fire truck in the background. More on that later.

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A family in match-matchy outfits. All three of them.

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FIRE

So I kept noting all these fire-extinguishers everywhere inside the Square and on the edges. And that big fire engine truck. It was kinda bizarre seeing how there was nothing much around that was flammable. But then I remembered a conversation I had with a local who talked about the fact that a LOT of people try to self-immolate in Tiananmen Square. It was decidedly creepy. I don’t know if that was the reason — but it sure makes a bunch of sense. Especially considering that buddhists have a long history of that activity.

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Public toilets are everywhere cause no one has a private toilet in their homes. So they use the government’s.

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This was a thing. Guys just strolling around with their improvised midriffs. Gross.

LEAVING

We got up super-early expecting more CRUSHES but it was almost the complete opposite. The taxi-ride was of course a little scary. And it was a dreary/smoggy day all of a sudden. But we needn’t have worried. It was probably one of the breeziest check-in procedures I have ever experienced. Which was of course so surreal. Admittedly early flights are generally your best bet at things running smoothly.IMG_7243

Last day was pretty smoggy. We were blessed with blue or clears skies up until then.

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Beijing airport is the most massive place I have ever been to. So when everything went so swimmingly easy I was a bit incredulous. I am not exaggerating here — but we got through check-in spending the shortest amount of time like EVER. And security was almost as equally quick-and-painless and although we had to take a train to our terminal — this required virtually no waiting and was super-civilised. And at the terminal over there was virtually empty and we had plenty of food options and as much comfy-seating as we could want. Quite refreshing.

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