juliet: (round the world)
(Disclaimer in advance: this following is largely speculation/rambling on my part based on very little direct experience and similarly little information. Factual correction more than welcome, as well as any other thoughts generally.)

Also it got a bit long )

I am aware that this is a ramble, without conclusion. In part this is because I simply don't know enough - enough political history, enough political theory, enough political present - to come to any conclusions[6]. And in part it's because I'm not sure there are any conclusions available. If forced to make a prediction, I think my tentative one would be: things will continue to change gradually at the bottom and in practice, and less so at the top and in theory. I think there probably will come a point when the current system cracks under the contradictions; but with the potential global political/economic changes we're facing, it's far from clear how inevitable that is, or whether it'll be overtaken by other things.

[0] A side-note: last time I headed off to Foreign for any length of time was India in 2002, and I didn't take a phone or Walkman (this was pre-MP3 player, or at least pre-me-having-MP3 -player), as I was concerned about waving Western tech around, inviting theft, etc etc. This time, phones & MP3 players, or possibly phones that are MP3 players, are ubiquitous. I'm sure this isn't entirely true in, say, rural Chinese villages or similar, but it's a very obvious change nevertheless.
[1] At least it does until you've nationalised enough banks. Man, that is all very weird.
[2] Well. For "might" read "would", as at least some of you will know from bitter personal experience ;-)
[3] Which I would strongly recommend. I gather that his book "A Bright Shining Lie", about the US & the Vietnam War (which he covered extensively at the time as an on-the-ground journalist in the South), is famous, & after reading this one I intend to locate & read it. "Two Cities" is about him returning to Hanoi & Saigon in 1989, and the changes and lack of changes that he saw.
[4] One of the great things about taking the train - you get to see things!
[5] I also made many interesting observations about field/plot shapes & how this relates to hand-cultivation! Which I will refrain from sharing with people who aren't interested i.e. nearly everyone, I expect.
[6] Reading suggestions welcome; and I promise that this is the last footnote.
juliet: (round the world)
(Disclaimer in advance: this following is largely speculation/rambling on my part based on very little direct experience and similarly little information. Factual correction more than welcome, as well as any other thoughts generally.)

Also it got a bit long )

I am aware that this is a ramble, without conclusion. In part this is because I simply don't know enough - enough political history, enough political theory, enough political present - to come to any conclusions[6]. And in part it's because I'm not sure there are any conclusions available. If forced to make a prediction, I think my tentative one would be: things will continue to change gradually at the bottom and in practice, and less so at the top and in theory. I think there probably will come a point when the current system cracks under the contradictions; but with the potential global political/economic changes we're facing, it's far from clear how inevitable that is, or whether it'll be overtaken by other things.

[0] A side-note: last time I headed off to Foreign for any length of time was India in 2002, and I didn't take a phone or Walkman (this was pre-MP3 player, or at least pre-me-having-MP3 -player), as I was concerned about waving Western tech around, inviting theft, etc etc. This time, phones & MP3 players, or possibly phones that are MP3 players, are ubiquitous. I'm sure this isn't entirely true in, say, rural Chinese villages or similar, but it's a very obvious change nevertheless.
[1] At least it does until you've nationalised enough banks. Man, that is all very weird.
[2] Well. For "might" read "would", as at least some of you will know from bitter personal experience ;-)
[3] Which I would strongly recommend. I gather that his book "A Bright Shining Lie", about the US & the Vietnam War (which he covered extensively at the time as an on-the-ground journalist in the South), is famous, & after reading this one I intend to locate & read it. "Two Cities" is about him returning to Hanoi & Saigon in 1989, and the changes and lack of changes that he saw.
[4] One of the great things about taking the train - you get to see things!
[5] I also made many interesting observations about field/plot shapes & how this relates to hand-cultivation! Which I will refrain from sharing with people who aren't interested i.e. nearly everyone, I expect.
[6] Reading suggestions welcome; and I promise that this is the last footnote.
juliet: (Default)
So, after a day of doing not-a-lot in Xi'an yesterday I got up hideously early this mornng (6am - was supposed to be 6.30 but other people in my dorm very noisily getting up just before 6 brought it forward) to head off to visit the Terracotta Warriors.

The early start did pay off - I was about the first person in, and when I walked into the biggest hall/pit (6000 soldiers, although most of those are only theoretical as it's only a quarter or so excavated as yet) it wa occupied by only me, a couple of guards, and a few hundred terracotta chaps. Which was rather splendid.

I went to the British Museum exhibition last winter (on a freebie from [livejournal.com profile] uon's employers), and was fascinated then, but said that I'd had in my mind *more* of them. On this occasion, more were delivered. Apparently some people find it disappointing; I was not amongst this group. Mind you, I've had a fascination with them for *years*.

I was glad to have picked up a book about it all when in Beijing, because the information provided isn't particularly good. The soldiers themselves are amazing, though - looking down into the main pit, I kept being convinced that one of them woud turn and wink at me, or possibly that they'd all get fed up with being stared at and start climbing out to wander off... When they were buried they'd have been painted (you can still see little flakes of paint on some of them, and some of the more recent excavations, not on display, have dug up warriors with more paint still on them), and imagining that is even more impressive.

In the exhibition hall off to one side they have the two half-size bronze chariots that were also dug up in another pit - I loved those too, but by then the vast masses of tour groups had started to arrive, so getting through to the cases became an exercise in crowd-movement, especially as I wanted to peer at them from *all* available sides. (The advantage to the tour group thing is that they move in packs, so if you're patient large gaps will eventually open up for a few seconds, before the next group swoop in, and you can nip in there).

Before leaving I went back to the main pit to have another look - and proved the wisdom 0f coming early, as by then (11 or so) it was shoulder-to-shoulder round the edge, and three-deep in places. I snuck through to the barier to gawp for a bit longer, though.

I don't think I'm doing the whole thing justice particularly wel - partly because *why* I liked it is quite hard to describe. The headline figures (6000 warriors, etc etc) isn't what you actually see, so it's not just the numbers - although there are enough there that the numbers *are* impressive, and extrapolating from what you can see to the size of the main pit even more so. (And that's without the *other* pts they're digging up - there was no reference at all anywhere to the 'acrobats' they found recently, athough I recognised one of them in a side-exhibition on Chinese sport). I think it was the detail, the level of realism that really got me. And the thought of the scale of the undertaking. I'l be really interested to find out what's there when they finally do excavate the tom itself (not on the cards in the near future) - here's definitely evidence of high levels of mercury. Interestingly, recently a tomb from a similar era was excavated fairly nearby, and the bodies were in ony-just-dead condition thanks to multiple layers of coffins and a cinnabar (chemical you get mercury from) bath. Incorruptibility of the body wa a Big Deal then, an it's likely that the First Emperor would have used similar techniques - so we may yet get to find out what he actually looked like.

Anyway: I am off back to Beijing this evening, in order to get train to Hanoi tomorrow, so once again I am being lazy & hanging out in the hostel courtyard. It is nice here!
juliet: (Default)
So, after a day of doing not-a-lot in Xi'an yesterday I got up hideously early this mornng (6am - was supposed to be 6.30 but other people in my dorm very noisily getting up just before 6 brought it forward) to head off to visit the Terracotta Warriors.

The early start did pay off - I was about the first person in, and when I walked into the biggest hall/pit (6000 soldiers, although most of those are only theoretical as it's only a quarter or so excavated as yet) it wa occupied by only me, a couple of guards, and a few hundred terracotta chaps. Which was rather splendid.

I went to the British Museum exhibition last winter (on a freebie from [livejournal.com profile] uon's employers), and was fascinated then, but said that I'd had in my mind *more* of them. On this occasion, more were delivered. Apparently some people find it disappointing; I was not amongst this group. Mind you, I've had a fascination with them for *years*.

I was glad to have picked up a book about it all when in Beijing, because the information provided isn't particularly good. The soldiers themselves are amazing, though - looking down into the main pit, I kept being convinced that one of them woud turn and wink at me, or possibly that they'd all get fed up with being stared at and start climbing out to wander off... When they were buried they'd have been painted (you can still see little flakes of paint on some of them, and some of the more recent excavations, not on display, have dug up warriors with more paint still on them), and imagining that is even more impressive.

In the exhibition hall off to one side they have the two half-size bronze chariots that were also dug up in another pit - I loved those too, but by then the vast masses of tour groups had started to arrive, so getting through to the cases became an exercise in crowd-movement, especially as I wanted to peer at them from *all* available sides. (The advantage to the tour group thing is that they move in packs, so if you're patient large gaps will eventually open up for a few seconds, before the next group swoop in, and you can nip in there).

Before leaving I went back to the main pit to have another look - and proved the wisdom 0f coming early, as by then (11 or so) it was shoulder-to-shoulder round the edge, and three-deep in places. I snuck through to the barier to gawp for a bit longer, though.

I don't think I'm doing the whole thing justice particularly wel - partly because *why* I liked it is quite hard to describe. The headline figures (6000 warriors, etc etc) isn't what you actually see, so it's not just the numbers - although there are enough there that the numbers *are* impressive, and extrapolating from what you can see to the size of the main pit even more so. (And that's without the *other* pts they're digging up - there was no reference at all anywhere to the 'acrobats' they found recently, athough I recognised one of them in a side-exhibition on Chinese sport). I think it was the detail, the level of realism that really got me. And the thought of the scale of the undertaking. I'l be really interested to find out what's there when they finally do excavate the tom itself (not on the cards in the near future) - here's definitely evidence of high levels of mercury. Interestingly, recently a tomb from a similar era was excavated fairly nearby, and the bodies were in ony-just-dead condition thanks to multiple layers of coffins and a cinnabar (chemical you get mercury from) bath. Incorruptibility of the body wa a Big Deal then, an it's likely that the First Emperor would have used similar techniques - so we may yet get to find out what he actually looked like.

Anyway: I am off back to Beijing this evening, in order to get train to Hanoi tomorrow, so once again I am being lazy & hanging out in the hostel courtyard. It is nice here!

Great Wall

Oct. 9th, 2008 10:20 am
juliet: (Default)
Spent yesterday at the Great Wall, which was fabulous. Lovely sunny day, amazing views, lots of climbing up & down masonry in various stages of repair. (Including one drop - controlled - from a 6' window when I missed the fact that the path went *around* that tower. 6' isn't actually much if you go down backwards but the ground was a bit uneven which worried me more...). Probably did 8 or 9 miles in the end, due to overshooting Simatai (I walked from Jinshanling to SImitai) first time around.

The minibus part of things was replaced with a taxi so it all got a bit more expensive than anticipated, but totally worth it.

Today has been overcast, & I potterd to the post office & the bookshop, and then to the Temple of Heaven, which was very nice when you got away from the temple bits into the park bits. Until the heavens opened, that is. I avoided a drenching by standing next to a wall - Chinese architeture is very big on *eaves*, which is useful on these occasions.

And now I must away to dinner & then the train station, for Xi'an.

Am still liking China. I have a slew of vague observations on various bits & pieces, but no time to put them together coherently at present, so the straightforward travelogue is all that's making it onto here.

Great Wall

Oct. 9th, 2008 10:20 am
juliet: (Default)
Spent yesterday at the Great Wall, which was fabulous. Lovely sunny day, amazing views, lots of climbing up & down masonry in various stages of repair. (Including one drop - controlled - from a 6' window when I missed the fact that the path went *around* that tower. 6' isn't actually much if you go down backwards but the ground was a bit uneven which worried me more...). Probably did 8 or 9 miles in the end, due to overshooting Simatai (I walked from Jinshanling to SImitai) first time around.

The minibus part of things was replaced with a taxi so it all got a bit more expensive than anticipated, but totally worth it.

Today has been overcast, & I potterd to the post office & the bookshop, and then to the Temple of Heaven, which was very nice when you got away from the temple bits into the park bits. Until the heavens opened, that is. I avoided a drenching by standing next to a wall - Chinese architeture is very big on *eaves*, which is useful on these occasions.

And now I must away to dinner & then the train station, for Xi'an.

Am still liking China. I have a slew of vague observations on various bits & pieces, but no time to put them together coherently at present, so the straightforward travelogue is all that's making it onto here.
juliet: (Default)
So, today I headed off to the Forbidden City. The trouble with the Forbidden City is that, being no longer Forbidden, it is instead Bloody Rammed. Most notably with tour groups in matching baseball caps.

That, together with the fact that most of the insides of the halls are barricaded off (so you can only squint through a little fence or bit of grubby glass) meant that I didn't see much of the insides of the 3 main hals, because I didn't fancy doing elbow-shoving. My misanthropic streak was taking over, when I happily discovered that the tour groups largely go straight up the middle, while in fact there are a whole bunch more halls, gates, pavilions etc down both sides, which are a lot less crowded. And also which have lots of free exhibitions in. So I pottered round those and cheered up enormously.

The halls are all intensively decorated - the beams are all painted , and various bits of wall tiled or decorated. Some bits of these have been renovated and are all shiny and birght; but I kind of like the bits that are a bit more decrepit. There are lots of dragons painted, and occasional flowers. And little golden animals perched on all the roof-ridges.

The exhibitions of Treasures Collected By Emperors was quite good - I particularly liked th scientific/maths stuff collected by Emperor Kangxi (late 17th c) who was dead into his astronomy. And recruited European missionaries to teach him astronomy and maths. There was a really lovely exhibbition of painting and calligraphy, as well, which made me want to find more out about Chinese calligraphy. (I liked this especially as I used to do Western-style calligraphy many years ago.) And a fascinating exhibition on Empress Cixi, who spent a fair chunk of the 19th c ruling "on behalf of" various emperors (starting with her son, who was 5 on ascending the throne. She and her fellow Empress, Ci'an, arranged before the kid was even crowned to have the ministers who'd been delegated by the previous Emperor to advise the new one, arrested. Good work. Curiously, the kid died within months of achieving majority... and a cousin of some sort took over until Cixi deposed him and ruled on her own behalf for a while. Anyway: I now wish to find out more about her, as well.

Finally headed out about 2 (having got there around 9.30), after a brief detour to another exhibition, this one of Court dress. All most impressive; one wonders if they ever got fed up and wanted something a bit less elaborate; even the "leisure" robes were pretty ornate. Cycled over to Wangfung St (had different bike this time - free one from hostel. The saddle kept slding incrementally down; I hate QR seatposts.) for food. Found the street-food alley; sadly all the street-food seemed to be meat-based. Fetched up instead at a restaurant over the road where they produced rice & mushrooms and Green Veg. Thus fortified, I went in search f the International Post Office. This was an epic hunt, involvin the v polluted Beijing Ringroad. When I located it, the poste restante had shut 20 min previously. Grr. Will return probably Thursday... By now the smog was increasingly obvious, and I was eeling a little grumpy again, so I decided that the thing to do was to locate a park.

Jinsheng Park was the park of choice - just north of the Forbidden City, and featuring a pavilion on a very high hill. Once upon a time this was intended for Emperors to look out over the surrounding countryside and admire it. These days what you can mostly admire, at least at 5pm on a warm afternoon, is the afordementioned smog, but it's still a very nice park. Many many trees. I wnt UP the hill, duly admired the smog, and went back DOWN the hill in search of a bench on which to sit & write my journal. Halfway down, I heard music, so detoured in that diretion. To find an impromptu concert of what I think was various popular Chinese songs (as passers-by kept humming and looking pleased), with a singer & a keyboard & a flautist. Which was fab, and just the sort of thing that I really love coming across at random.

My aim for tomorrow is to get up early, catch a bus and then a minibus, and hike 10km of Great Wall (the bit that isn't at Badaling, which everyone tells me is hideously over-touristy). Alternatvely, the whole bus thing will go Horribly Wrong & I will return to Beijing, give up my opposition to organised tours, & fork over some insane sum of money to the hotel to sort things out for me. But I hope it will all work out.
juliet: (Default)
So, today I headed off to the Forbidden City. The trouble with the Forbidden City is that, being no longer Forbidden, it is instead Bloody Rammed. Most notably with tour groups in matching baseball caps.

That, together with the fact that most of the insides of the halls are barricaded off (so you can only squint through a little fence or bit of grubby glass) meant that I didn't see much of the insides of the 3 main hals, because I didn't fancy doing elbow-shoving. My misanthropic streak was taking over, when I happily discovered that the tour groups largely go straight up the middle, while in fact there are a whole bunch more halls, gates, pavilions etc down both sides, which are a lot less crowded. And also which have lots of free exhibitions in. So I pottered round those and cheered up enormously.

The halls are all intensively decorated - the beams are all painted , and various bits of wall tiled or decorated. Some bits of these have been renovated and are all shiny and birght; but I kind of like the bits that are a bit more decrepit. There are lots of dragons painted, and occasional flowers. And little golden animals perched on all the roof-ridges.

The exhibitions of Treasures Collected By Emperors was quite good - I particularly liked th scientific/maths stuff collected by Emperor Kangxi (late 17th c) who was dead into his astronomy. And recruited European missionaries to teach him astronomy and maths. There was a really lovely exhibbition of painting and calligraphy, as well, which made me want to find more out about Chinese calligraphy. (I liked this especially as I used to do Western-style calligraphy many years ago.) And a fascinating exhibition on Empress Cixi, who spent a fair chunk of the 19th c ruling "on behalf of" various emperors (starting with her son, who was 5 on ascending the throne. She and her fellow Empress, Ci'an, arranged before the kid was even crowned to have the ministers who'd been delegated by the previous Emperor to advise the new one, arrested. Good work. Curiously, the kid died within months of achieving majority... and a cousin of some sort took over until Cixi deposed him and ruled on her own behalf for a while. Anyway: I now wish to find out more about her, as well.

Finally headed out about 2 (having got there around 9.30), after a brief detour to another exhibition, this one of Court dress. All most impressive; one wonders if they ever got fed up and wanted something a bit less elaborate; even the "leisure" robes were pretty ornate. Cycled over to Wangfung St (had different bike this time - free one from hostel. The saddle kept slding incrementally down; I hate QR seatposts.) for food. Found the street-food alley; sadly all the street-food seemed to be meat-based. Fetched up instead at a restaurant over the road where they produced rice & mushrooms and Green Veg. Thus fortified, I went in search f the International Post Office. This was an epic hunt, involvin the v polluted Beijing Ringroad. When I located it, the poste restante had shut 20 min previously. Grr. Will return probably Thursday... By now the smog was increasingly obvious, and I was eeling a little grumpy again, so I decided that the thing to do was to locate a park.

Jinsheng Park was the park of choice - just north of the Forbidden City, and featuring a pavilion on a very high hill. Once upon a time this was intended for Emperors to look out over the surrounding countryside and admire it. These days what you can mostly admire, at least at 5pm on a warm afternoon, is the afordementioned smog, but it's still a very nice park. Many many trees. I wnt UP the hill, duly admired the smog, and went back DOWN the hill in search of a bench on which to sit & write my journal. Halfway down, I heard music, so detoured in that diretion. To find an impromptu concert of what I think was various popular Chinese songs (as passers-by kept humming and looking pleased), with a singer & a keyboard & a flautist. Which was fab, and just the sort of thing that I really love coming across at random.

My aim for tomorrow is to get up early, catch a bus and then a minibus, and hike 10km of Great Wall (the bit that isn't at Badaling, which everyone tells me is hideously over-touristy). Alternatvely, the whole bus thing will go Horribly Wrong & I will return to Beijing, give up my opposition to organised tours, & fork over some insane sum of money to the hotel to sort things out for me. But I hope it will all work out.
juliet: (Default)
Safely arrived in Beijing this afternoon. Customs yesterday (Mongolian then Chinese) only took 5 or 6 hours, not bad. (Some of this was the bogie-changing process, which I'd actually inended to skip this time, but our passports weren't returned in time.)

Decided to get a taxi from the station rather than the tube, due to stomach cramps & consequent headache, ill feeling, grumpiness, etc. Taxi queue enormous but fast-moving; reached taxi and showed my Piece of Paper on which hostel name in Chinese and little map were (as provided by hostel). Driver peers at the whole thing in a confused fashion, but heads off. I assume he's worked it out. Not So. A couple of minutes up the road, he requests the phone number of the hostel, and phones them for directions. And then again five minutes after that. Still, we got there in the end, and the couple of quid it cost was well worth it.

Treated headache, grumpiness, etc with the following:
- shower (water took 5 min to run hot, which had me worried, but got there eventually)
- fried veg & rice
- ibuprofen
- BIKE BIKE BIKE BIKE HURRAH

Some or all of the above worked (actually it was probably mostly the bike, at least in terms of the grumpiness. I hadn't realised how much I've missed cycling, & it's only been a couple of weeks!).

The bike in question was a very elderly single-speed sit-up-and-beg, 10 Y (about 85p) for the day, or in my case the rest of the afternoon. After much fiddling with the saddle height in consultation with the elderly mechanic (the universal language of Bike Gesture), I set off happily up the road. And promptly ot lost, but lo! I did not care. I managed to fetch up in approximately the right place eventually, and the nice thing about being on a bike is that it doesn't *matter* that much if you get a bit lost, because it never takes long to get back on track. And I was enjoying pottering around, anyway.

Made it to the Forein Languages Bookstore, which was my destination, in order to get a better map (not much better, but there we go), a phrasebook (success!), and a reading book as I have finally finished the Baroque Cycle. Wah. Returned to my Glorious Steed to discover that it was now a push-bike in the strictest sense, viz, the pedals were no longer making the wheel go round & the only way of moving it was to push with the feet on the ground. A nearby traffic directing person dropped his flag and rushed to my aid, but was unable to assist - we established (again with the Universal Language of Bike Gesture) that the chain was fine - it was something to do with the axle/freewheel. I said "thank you" a lot and set off to scoot/walk back home. Even this did not dent my new good cheer, as I pottered round the Forbidden City, got lost again, and wandered home past lots of busy restaurants and shops and barber shops and shiny neon things and red lanterns...

As you might have gathered, I have only been in Beijing for about 5.5 hours & I already love it. It's busy and noisy and bright, and much though I do like being outside in quiet beautiful countryside etc etc, I am basically a city person :) Everyone also seems friendly, and cheerful - multiple traffic warden/driecting people helpully pointing me in the right direction when I accidentally tried to take illegal turns (road markings a bit unclear...), the chap who tried to fix the bike, a nice girl on a bike who stopped and helped when I was perusing the map & being lost. It just feels like a nice place to be.

Also they have lots of bikes, and that invariably makes me happy. Although no one seems to know how to signal, and absolutely no one has lights. (I knid of approve of this, in a complicated way which has to do with why the CTC opposed mandatory lighting regs back in the 30s. NB this does not mean I approve of riding without lights in the UK now, where we have a different set of expectations :) ).

Anyway, my headache is returning so I will go eat & have ibuprofen again, & maybe go to bed early or something.

BTW, apologies for any typos or odd formatting in this - I'm having to write it in w3m on the, as LJ appears to be blocked (well: it won't load in Firefox, and it loads just fine from the once I've sshed in there, and China notoriously blocks lots of things, so...). Most odd.
juliet: (Default)
Safely arrived in Beijing this afternoon. Customs yesterday (Mongolian then Chinese) only took 5 or 6 hours, not bad. (Some of this was the bogie-changing process, which I'd actually inended to skip this time, but our passports weren't returned in time.)

Decided to get a taxi from the station rather than the tube, due to stomach cramps & consequent headache, ill feeling, grumpiness, etc. Taxi queue enormous but fast-moving; reached taxi and showed my Piece of Paper on which hostel name in Chinese and little map were (as provided by hostel). Driver peers at the whole thing in a confused fashion, but heads off. I assume he's worked it out. Not So. A couple of minutes up the road, he requests the phone number of the hostel, and phones them for directions. And then again five minutes after that. Still, we got there in the end, and the couple of quid it cost was well worth it.

Treated headache, grumpiness, etc with the following:
- shower (water took 5 min to run hot, which had me worried, but got there eventually)
- fried veg & rice
- ibuprofen
- BIKE BIKE BIKE BIKE HURRAH

Some or all of the above worked (actually it was probably mostly the bike, at least in terms of the grumpiness. I hadn't realised how much I've missed cycling, & it's only been a couple of weeks!).

The bike in question was a very elderly single-speed sit-up-and-beg, 10 Y (about 85p) for the day, or in my case the rest of the afternoon. After much fiddling with the saddle height in consultation with the elderly mechanic (the universal language of Bike Gesture), I set off happily up the road. And promptly ot lost, but lo! I did not care. I managed to fetch up in approximately the right place eventually, and the nice thing about being on a bike is that it doesn't *matter* that much if you get a bit lost, because it never takes long to get back on track. And I was enjoying pottering around, anyway.

Made it to the Forein Languages Bookstore, which was my destination, in order to get a better map (not much better, but there we go), a phrasebook (success!), and a reading book as I have finally finished the Baroque Cycle. Wah. Returned to my Glorious Steed to discover that it was now a push-bike in the strictest sense, viz, the pedals were no longer making the wheel go round & the only way of moving it was to push with the feet on the ground. A nearby traffic directing person dropped his flag and rushed to my aid, but was unable to assist - we established (again with the Universal Language of Bike Gesture) that the chain was fine - it was something to do with the axle/freewheel. I said "thank you" a lot and set off to scoot/walk back home. Even this did not dent my new good cheer, as I pottered round the Forbidden City, got lost again, and wandered home past lots of busy restaurants and shops and barber shops and shiny neon things and red lanterns...

As you might have gathered, I have only been in Beijing for about 5.5 hours & I already love it. It's busy and noisy and bright, and much though I do like being outside in quiet beautiful countryside etc etc, I am basically a city person :) Everyone also seems friendly, and cheerful - multiple traffic warden/driecting people helpully pointing me in the right direction when I accidentally tried to take illegal turns (road markings a bit unclear...), the chap who tried to fix the bike, a nice girl on a bike who stopped and helped when I was perusing the map & being lost. It just feels like a nice place to be.

Also they have lots of bikes, and that invariably makes me happy. Although no one seems to know how to signal, and absolutely no one has lights. (I knid of approve of this, in a complicated way which has to do with why the CTC opposed mandatory lighting regs back in the 30s. NB this does not mean I approve of riding without lights in the UK now, where we have a different set of expectations :) ).

Anyway, my headache is returning so I will go eat & have ibuprofen again, & maybe go to bed early or something.

BTW, apologies for any typos or odd formatting in this - I'm having to write it in w3m on the, as LJ appears to be blocked (well: it won't load in Firefox, and it loads just fine from the once I've sshed in there, and China notoriously blocks lots of things, so...). Most odd.

June 2017

S M T W T F S
    12 3
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930 

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Tags

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags