Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My Impressions of Beijing

Well, I didn't get to eat Peking duck like I planned to - boo hoo. The food I did eat was good but I don't feel like I had enough of a taste of Chinese food. No eggrolls? No fortune cookie? What?!?! It would have been nice for my family to be with me for a meal in China. We sure know how to order.

The architecture of Beijing struck me as very looming and disconnected. Each structure seemed to stand alone and command its space without sharing or blending in with its neighbours. It was difficult to feel pleasure in looking at any of these monstrosities. There was so much construction going on, presumably because of the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing. More looming buildings, it appears to be. Then, scattered at the feet of these giants were battered old clay roofed homes and crumbling apartment buildings. It was really strange.

Also, the city looked even more sprawling than Bangkok looked. I couldn't quite pinpoint why all these Asian cities seem so different from the cities I know back at home. Then I realized- they're three times the size. Beijing is a city of over 12 million people.

Despite that, the New Year holiday left the city quiet, or as one of you warned me it would be, a ghost town. I can't say I got a true feeling of the spirit of Beijing, which is too bad. I'm glad I didn't have to deal with millions of tourists at the wall, the square, and the city, for instance.

The people love Mao! I can't believe it.

Compared to Korea there is very little English in China - on signs and on the lips of the people we came across. Even salespeople working off tourist's money didn't seem to know common English phrases and words, like numbers or "how much?" They were less friendly and warm than the Thai people and they didn't even mechanically greet you like the Koreans.

There were many backpackers staying at my hostel and around the city. After the great wall hike the group of us were sitting around talking and it surprised me how much I know about Korea and how little this well traveled group knows. They were surprised to hear that nobody backpacks to Korea, and that the foreigner popluation pretty much consists of Canadian English teachers and American military.

"Really?? Why?!?" They exclaimed.

"Why haven't any of you gone there?"

Why don't people travel to Korea?? Having been now to a few Asian countries, I feel like might know why. There is a little bit of China in Korea, and a little bit of Japan, and a lot of "Western". Whatever you are interested in in Asia, I feel like you can get it in China and Japan, and the ways that Korea differ are simply not so appealing. I wonder if that makes sense.

In China we were celebrities. Everyone stared and a few asked to take their picture with us - what they'll do with that picture later I do not know. It will be funny to go home (to Canada) and blend in with the crowd.

The second most exciting thing that happened in China is that I found my alternative plan in case grad school doesn't work out. Can you guess?


At February 02, 2006 1:03 p.m. , Blogger Blake said...

Playing ping-pong?

At February 02, 2006 6:27 p.m. , Blogger Jessica said...

You know, I hadn't thought of that.

At February 03, 2006 12:06 a.m. , Blogger p.p. said...

I was asked to have my picture with a group of old women. They pounted at my eyes. I guess blue eyes are rare. ;)

Oh, I travled with a girl with red hair. She was asked to have her pic taken all over the place.

Lastly, it's a bit sad to see old Beijing being torn down so fast.

At February 03, 2006 11:40 a.m. , Blogger p.p. said...

wow. I need to proofread my posts. I meant to type "picture taken," "point," and "traveled." Sorry.


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