Beijing was a pleasant surprise. Despite the bitterly cold breath from the Siberian air mass,I loved it! I somehow managed to arrange my Chinese tourist visa in 3 days and took off to celebrate New Year’s Eve in China. I joined a group of fellow Englishee teachers from Korea and we crammed in as much of Beijing as we could over a long weekend. (Yes even hagwans manage to have the odd long weekend!) And so a tourist infested stream of events ensued.
Our first stop was The Temple of Heaven, which was outstandingly gorgeous. What bliss, I remember circling it until I got dizzy.
There were all sorts of strange things I saw that day. In the temple grounds I saw my first Pekingese scampering about, he reminded me of Pong-Ping from Rupert the Bear.
I also saw some Chinese contortionists and acrobats in a whirling display of colour and heart-stopping acts. I don’t know what was more beautiful, the gymnasts and acrobatics or the gorgeous Russian tourists in the audience adorning their fur hats.
Dinner was interesting, Peking Duck. Not being a fan of duckling but feeling like it’d be silly to say that I’d been to Beijing and had not eaten Peking Duck, I forced down a little with a guilty gulp. I don’t think I’ll ever eat duck again though or gemsbok for that matter.
Oui bien sûr, we managed to see Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden city. Someone once told me about “Tank Man” in Tiananmen Square, an astonishing man who bravely stood in front of advancing tanks and stopped them. This happened on June 5th 1989, the day I turned 2 years old. It was quite a profound moment standing breathless in the square.
The forbidden city was superb, it was an endless maze of beautifully composed Chinese architecture begging to be gaped at. I remember hearing about the thousands of concubines kept in the Forbidden City by the Chinese Emperors of years gone by. A soap opera tale of lust, intrigue, jealousy, shenanigans and murder lingers in the very walls and rooms of this foreboding place. I sometimes wonder what kind of a jaded concubine I’d be…
*~The highlight of the trip for me was to see the Great Wall. I couldn’t sleep the night before as I was itching with anticipation. A surge of emotion engulfed me as I laid eyes on her for first time. You know, that tingling feeling you experience when you see your dream staring back at you at long last, it’s that heart-thumping giddy sensation dreamers find so addictive. She’s even more majestic than she appears on postcards, photographs or in children’s school books. It was absolutely surreal to walk the endless stairs and to hear the whistles of the winds coming down from Inner Mongolia. A simply subliminal experience. As I listened to the winds, I knew then and there I had to follow my heart which would eventually take me through the Gobi desert and onto the Mongolia steppe~*
What a view
Dare to dream
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Summer Palace in all its opulence, ironically it was mid winter which gave it a narnia wonderland ambiance.
I spent a wonderful time in Beijing with a couple of sweethearts, Alexa, Jill and Laura from our tour. I remember Alexa’s fabulous bubbly personality and beautiful violet eyes, Jill’s admirable desire to capture as much of Beijing as she possibly could and gentle Laura’s passion for travelling the world. So here’s picture of them gorgeous ladies in front of the iconic marble boat at the summer palace. May you set sail with fervor as you embark on your respective journeys through life and godspeed.