Saturday, 21 February 2009

Freezing in Magnificent Beijing: Part 2

 Rising up from the underpass in Tian-An-Men Square, the incredibly cold hit me once more. A poor Chinese soldier seemed to be feeling it as well as he stood shivering on a box. Interestingly, most of the population of China don’t know that the Tian-An-Men Square massacre ever happened. The public were told that no one was hurt and the pictures weren’t broadcast.

There isn’t much you can say about the place apart from that it’s big and square. We headed off to wander around but didn’t get far. there aren't many young western girls in China and my girlfriend was attracting attention. It started with a couple of Chinese girls grabbing her and dragging her off for a photograph. While this was happening a line formed nearby of others who wanted a picture. It was a very strange thing to witness.

Eventually, I got her back from the adoring masses and used the opportunity to have one of her fans take a picture of the two us. We continued to walk around as the wind blew strongly across the open square. Back on the coach, and out of the cold, it was time to go to the 800 year old Summer Palace. The grounds of the palace are absolutely enormous. It also contains one of the largest man made lakes in the world.

The sun began to warm up the ground and the freezing temperature subsided. We followed the famous painted corridor along to the much heralded boat carved out of marble. Both of these are breath taking works of art but I was much more interested in the giant temple reaching high into the clouds. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to see it close up.

It didn’t really matter though as every aspect of the Summer Palace is stunning. It’s just such an amazing achievement to think that it was ever built. Hopefully, I will get the chance to go back to it one day.

The evening brought the return of the freezing weather and a visit to a house in one of the older districts. Here we shared tea and talked about what it was like to live in fast developing Beijing. It was interesting but my mind was already turning to the next day. Tomorrow we would be visiting the Great Wall.

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