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CHINA | Friday, 8 August 2014 | Views [887]

Boy and the Chairman outside Forbidden City, Beijing

Boy and the Chairman outside Forbidden City, Beijing

WE ARRIVED IN BEIJING 36 HOURS AFTER LEAVING Dublin, a day and a half of delayed flights, airplane food and wondering if we would ever again see our luggage.  When the flight to Abu Dhabi was late and we missed the Beijing connection they rerouted us to Shanghai and finally on to Beijing. 

Chinese immigration was, surprisingly, a snap.  Even more surprising, our luggage arrived with us. and “Barry,” our guide for the next few days was still waiting to whisk us off to the Novotel Peace Hotel, a much nicer place than we would normally book.  Barry seems pleasant but his “Chinglish” could use some work.  At thirty-two he shares the plight of so many young Chinese men - a low wage job, too few women to go around and a nagging mother anxious for him to marry.  Anyone.


   Tian'anmen Square

The air quality today would be unsatisfactory anywhere in America, even in LA, but for Beijing it was pretty good.  Parasols outnumbered surgical masks as we fought the crowds in Tian’anmen Square.  We were among the few foreign tourists, the tour groups being Chinese from distant provinces.  With 1.5 billion people to choose from, tour operators hardly have to look outside their own country.  And while we - and the rest of the world - know what happened in Tian’anmen Square back in ’89, most of the Chinese are blissfully unaware.  Even Barry isn’t completely convinced.


   The Forbidden City

For 500 years the Forbidden City was the sole residence of the reclusive Qing emperors.  It’s a World Heritage maze that stretches in a profusion of halls and palaces, phoenixes and dragons, golden roofline after golden roofline into infinity.  You can’t enter the buildings and can peer into only a select few.  It is too popular, we are told, to let people actually see inside.


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