Adventures during an evening in Beijing


From Diary from ChinaTuesday, August 9, 2005


I won’t bore you with details of our trip to Tianeman Square and through the Forbidden City, or the cool acrobatic show we went to except to tell you we enjoyed them all very much (my first “touristy” things since my first day in China).  Instead, I’ll tell you some of the cool things we saw when we just started walking around after the acrobatic show (about 6:30, it was still light).  This was our first “adventure” as I had envisioned it, where we set out alone into the Chinese streets and alleys – we’ve been accompanied by Stephan’s friends almost the entire time I’ve been here.


At Tianeman Square, we were part of the tourist attraction!  Several folks wanted to take pictures of us standing with their friends.
















Acrobatic show






In a lively alley where there were some vendors, Stephan finally found the buns he’s been looking for – sweet, filled with things like green vegetables of some kind, and we had a nice before-dinner snack.  I was impressed with how clean the woman served it, in spite of being in a dirty alley – she didn’t touch the fresh baked goods, but got them with tongs or picked them up with the bag she served them in.



We passed a place where the sidewalk widened out and had what looked like children’s play equipment – metal bars in various shapes.  But then I realized it was exercise equipment!  One was a kind of a whimsical bicycle where a woman was pedaling, one was a kind of a stepmaster for two – there was a man stepping very slowly on it and a woman churning away [below left], and when they were done the man got back into the wheelchair that sat next to the contraption and the woman pushed him.  One had 4 metal seats suspended from about 10 feet off the ground and facing each other, each leaning against a bar about waist high.  I couldn’t figure out what it was for, and finally realized you sit in the seat facing the bar, put your feet up on the bar and push yourself away and let it fall back – it felt great! [below right]



We found about a dozen women on the sidewalk kicking around something that looked like a giant shuttlecock – it was about a foot tall, with feathers coming out of the base, and they’d drop-kick it to one of the other women.  They let Stephan and me join in, I couldn’t get it higher than my knee but Stephan got it flying pretty well. 


[Below] When we passed them again after our adventure at the shopping mall, they were dancing in unison to some peppy music, I guess for exercise.


[Inside the mall,] we couldn’t get past the first few vendors without checking Stephan’s heavy backpack and my bottle of water, so I waited with those while he dashed around to see what was there.  I was getting tired, and leaned against a counter and got my fan out.  Across the aisle, a couple who was selling ice cream and hot dogs motioned for me to come and get a stool that they handed over the counter!  This is just another example of how wonderful these people are.  I wonder if Americans would be as helpful and considerate as most of the Chinese people I’ve met.  After Stephan came back, I had him interpret while I thanked them [photo to the left] and said how much it meant to me, since I was tired and not feeling well.  She said that this is common courtesy – she helped me and said I would do the same for her or others, it will come around.   Stephan thinks they are Buddhists, as this is a theme his Buddhist friends had shared.




After our adventure we had a nice dinner, then decided to take a bus and subway back to the hotel.  The bus was awesome [photo to the right] – it had two halves, connected with a round base in the floor that pivoted when the bus turned a corner.  There were 4 seats on the round base and we happened to sit on them, and it was like a Disney ride!  The front of the bus would turn but we kept going straight and then we were turned to face the front again, and as the two halves of the bus bounced and swayed separately, the seats would do their own thing, dipping forward and back.









Traveling in the rain (photo taken from a cab earlier in the day).


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