10
Feb
10

Day 2: Beijing; Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City

Breakfast.

Outside our hotel stands a small shack – really just a covered counter with a hot plate, where a man and his son make maybe the best thing ever invented: they make some sort of bread/crepe-type deal by spreading batter on a hot surface.  Then they poke a hole in it and pour some egg liquid inside and the egg fries in between the pillowy bread layers.  Then they smear plum sauce and chili sauce all over it, fold it up, and put it into a plastic bag.  Then you tear open the bag and eat the treasure on the bus while going to Tiananmen Square.  Breakfast is awesome.

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Tiananmen.

I think the entire population of China was waiting in line to see Mao’s tomb.  It made me wonder if there could ever be an American leader whose body could muster that much dedication on some random day years after his death.  Then again, maybe every Chinese citizen is required to visit the tomb like some pilgrimage to Mecca.

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Tiananmen was the site of my induction to a phenomenon that I never truly believed occurred until it happened to me: the Take-A-Picture-with-Some-Random-Guy-Because-He’s-Tall-and-Blond Phenomenon.  The Phenomeblonde.  Sam had warned me this would happen, and I was skeptical.  But no more.  My first photo-shoot stranger was a nice young girl.  Days in China: 1.  Photos with strangers: 1.

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Phenomeblonde!

Tiananmen was also where I first discovered that all Chinese people assume that tall, blonde people are of either Scandinavian or Germanic descent.  It took Sam some effort to convince my first photo-shoot stranger that I was American.

Forbidden City.

Four more photos with strangers!!  Phenomeblonde update: Days in China: 1.  Photos with strangers: 5.  By the fifth photo-shoot stranger, I was actually getting used to it and finding the process pretty hilarious.  It’s mostly the younger crowd that is generally in awe of me (think: little Chinese kids, standing at my feet, staring with slack mouth and wide eyes.)  But one teenager’s mom also succumbed to the desire.  Plus all these photo-shoots have really allowed me to perfect the Asian-peace-sign pose.  I also see a lot of people who can’t bring themselves to approach me and take surreptitious photos.

The Forbidden City is huge and amazing and huge.  It started raining while we were walking through the courtyards so waited out the rain delay at the foot of an ornate and brightly painted temple with about five hundred other people.  Gotta love the rain because umbrellas are so photogenic.

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Lunch.

We went to lunch near Tiananmen and the Forbidden City at the famous roasted duck restaurant, Quanjude.  They bring the whole duck out to you and carve it right in front of you.  Here are some of the wierd things that happened during this meal:

  • The servers placed our napkins on the table and anchored them with our plates.  Are we supposed to just use the little available corner?
  • I put my backpack on the free chair next to me, and a server came up and pointedly covered it with a fancy pillow-case type thing.  Excuuuuse me for displaying my unsightly backpack.  (We went to another restaurant weeks later and I saw a server place the pillow-case over the back of someone’s chair to cover a jacket slung on the chair.  So I suppose it could all be to prevent splatter from ruining people’s clothes, or, in my case, people’s backpacks.)
  • Roasted duck heads chopped in half aren’t that appetizing to me, it turns out.
  • Sam left us for thirty seconds to go to the bathroom, and Kristy found out how helpless we were without her.  We realized we wanted to go to the bathroom too and had to wait for her to get back and tell us where it was.

After lunch we wandered around on a hopeless quest to find a small place that gives tours of underground nuclear bunkers in the city.  As we strolled, we passed by a crew re-laying some concrete.  One of the workers, distracted by either my tall blonde hairedness, Kristy’s white curly hairedness, Sam’s hapa-ness, or all three, allowed his wheelbarrow to fill with wet cement and topple over, leaving the cement truck to empty out into the street.  It was rad.

Dinner.

More wandering to find an awesome muslim restaurant.  Belly dancers, kebabs, and beer.  Another version of the Beef Sizzler platter.  Fantastic dinner.

After dinner we went to a swanky bar with little cabanas sitting over pools of water, and ended up at another bar where some Italian soccer team was partying.  It was a fun night.

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1 Response to “Day 2: Beijing; Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City”


  1. June 28, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    love the photos! Cheers! =D


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