13 May 2011

The Story within the Story within the Story of the Forbidden City

We walked so much today our toes were fucking throbbing in our shoes. I don’t know why LB + I insist on doing this shit, but for some reason, when we visit another country, we walk our asses off until she ends up getting a blister + I vow never to walk again. And then we do the same shit the next day because that’s how we do.

Today we started things off in style: We walked from our Hotel to Tiananmen Square, people-watched + then we walked through the entire Forbidden City, which is like a never-ending story, the stuff of Sheherazade + fractals + hyperlink mazes. It really is. You think to yourself: Okay, this is the end of it. And then the Forbidden City just keeps going on and on. Then you think: Okay, that’s the exit over there, it’s finally over. And then it’s not. Part of me never wanted it to end + another part of me wanted it to stop.

From there, we walked to this little vegan joint called Fairy Su on Yonghegong Avenue + ate mock duck + spicy fake chicken stir-fry with watermelon + coconut/papaya juice.

Then things got interesting. Feel free to skip this extended version if you’ve maxxed out on it’s-really-difficult-to-get-anywhere-in-a-foreign-country-when-you-don’t-speak-the-fucking-language-stories.

A few other things I’ve noticed in Beijing:

1. We saw a dude shitting in the middle of a lawn. Not even behind a tree, just squatting there in front of the whole world

2. The Forbidden City was ironically chaotic (especially near the Temple of Tranquility) because there were so many damn tour groups, each cicerone of each group with her own mic + speaker.

3. Beijing is a tale of 2 cities: Some neighborhoods are superdeveloped, modern, sleek + spacious + other parts feel very 3rd World (e.g. construction everywhere, broken sidewalks, vacant merchant space, small sidewalks, the smell of sewage + dust)

4. Riding the Beijing Subway at rush hour is like taking the Subte in Buenos Aires

5. Chinese people totally cut in line, push you out of the way + elbow you. And some of the biggest culprits are the oldest.

6. Beijing’s blocks can be really fucking long.

7. There’s a security check for everything, from visiting Mao’s rising mausoleum, to visiting parks to taking the Beijing Subway. It’s as if Beijing is in a state of perpetual vigilance.

Here are the pics:

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