JH, that was really funny.
I'm in Red China!
I just got back this morning. Man, what a trip! I was in China so long, my time in Japan started to feel like ancient history. There is so much to say, but impossible to recall things in a coherent order. Just some tidbits....
* Beijing is VERY smoggy. Only one day was I able to see a blue sky, and that was after the rains. I read an article in an economic magazine about how it is drifting as far as Korea.
* The English newspaper "China Post" is heavily censored and usually publishes pure bullsh*t. There were articles about a spider that can write English words (I kid you not), a person who went to the hospital for a kidney transplant in some major city and turned out fine (is that newsworthy?), something about a kid in some province who can spin in circles 2,000 times in 15 minutes, and so forth.
* There are security guards and police seemingly on every corner, on every floor in shopping malls, etc. And since they all wear military uniform type clothes, it is hard to tell at a glance exactly what they are. Some just direct traffic, some enforce the "NO PICTURE TAKING" rule in museums with brute force, but most seem to just stand around all day maintaining a "presence". We used one in Xian to make a dishonest peddler give our money back. We saw one directing traffic who was being videotaped in the middle of a busy intersection.
*I presume in a country with such a large population, the number of jobs are relatively scarce, so we noticed a lot of redundancy and use of human labor. For instance, when we went to the subway in Beijing, there were no ticket machines, you had to buy a ticket. And then instead of putting it through a turnstile, there is a person who takes your ticket. At the airport, there is a person who checks your boarding pass at the beginning of the jetway, and then another person at the end of the jetway to check your boarding pass again (I guess to prevent anyone hiding inside the jetway from sneaking aboard???). Often there were two or three people doing the same job that one person could adequately do.
*The prices were insanely cheap, but they really gouge at foreigners too. Musuems can be costly, and there is an airport tax that you have to pay at each airport, even with connecting flights. There is also a departure tax for leaving the country. But taxis are super-cheap, you can go across Beijing for just $2 -- it's cheaper by taxi than by subway.
*Locals frequently stare at, point, and laugh at foreigners. I kind of understand....I did the same thing to tourists when I lived in Hawaii. But on my last day, I visited a Paleolithic museum in a shopping center and a group of elementary school students were there with their teacher and they went up to me welcoming me to the museum, and one spoke very nice but halting English, and they tied a red scarf around my neck and gave me a small gift (I'm not sure what it is, but according to the hotel ppl, it is something children give their parents, or lovers to each other, and means you are a special person to them), so I guess nice things can happen too to foreigners.
These are just some subjective observations as a tourist....
Here is one of the many pictures I took of Mt. Fuji as we circled around it....
I again saw Mt. Fuji as we flew back today from Beijing. The plane flew over Japan and I saw Fuji again in the distance. (Interestingly, we had to fly south and then north to avoid North Korea).
Here is a pic of us being stuck inside the jetway at Narita....cannot be on the plane and cannot go into the gate since we officially left Japanese territory....
Leolaia your pics and trips stories are :
more, more, more please !
I like the Fuji pic. Looks like an oriental hat or the roof peak of those oriental houses.
Frankies : Looks like an oriental hat or the roof peak of those oriental houses.yeah true ! now that you said it, it really looks like !
I was in Beijing a few years ago. I remember before going that we were warned to be very careful about what reading material we took. Nothing that could be misconstrued by the Chinese Gov. Nothing religious included. No problem, I wasn't planning on taking any Watchtowers or Awakes. While we were there we visited a 400 year old temple. Buddhist I think, can't remember. Anyway it was full of jade idols and what not, very "pagan". While in line to go inside, I saw a western woman sitting on a bench reading. Something struck me funny about her for some reason. I watched her for a bit and it finally hit me. She was reading a Watchtower magazine. And underlining it. Two things struck me about this; One - this is a communist country and we were warned about what reading material to bring. Sneaking in a Watchtower seemed risky to me. Two - apparently this devout JW was there with some non-JW family or on a business trip and while the rest visited the temple, she refused to enter a place of false worship and to keep the demons at bay would read God's supplemental word, The Watchtower. The bastard part of me wanted to alert the Red police to her presence, but that was just a fleeting thought. I did make sure that I was nowhere near her at any time, just in case she got busted. I didn't want to be part of any international religious perscecution controversy.
These are some pics of the police/security guards, what-nots.... They didn't like to have their pictures taken, so I took these on the sly...
Oh, Leolaia, I am enjoying your trip so much!!! You take GREAT pictures, too. I heard once that the secret of a great photographer is to make your audience see what you see, and I think you have accomplished that.