Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tank Man and The "F" Word


My third day in China was very busy. We visited the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and Kunming Lake. Let me see, so far I have been frisked by a security guard in Vancouver, saw 2 people being whisked away in the Beijing airport to awaiting medical tents and medical personnel, got lost in the Beijing airport, was contacted by CNN for an interview, conquered my fear of flying and climbed the Great Wall of China, what a frigging adventure!!!


Our first stop was the gardens surrounding The Temple Of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven was constructed from 1406 to 1420 and visited annually by Emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties to pray for good harvests. Music and activities were everywhere.


I love traditional Chinese music, love the tones and shapes of their instruments, I recorded some musical shorts on video and posted it at the end of this post.

Along with the music there was Chinese Shuttlecock,

and Tai Chi going on.




One of my goals, besides viewing the eclipse, climbing the Great wall, oh yeah and seeing the Terra Cotta Warriors was to get me and a friend fake Rolex Watches, as well as pick me up a "I Climbed The Great Wall" t shirt, well I got my shirt the day before and the Rolex watches that day and had my first experience with the local street vendors, they are everywhere and there are some good deals to be had if you know how to barter.



Since you can't actually go inside the Temple I leaned over the railing to get a shot of the beautiful ceiling work.


After the temple it was off to Tiananmen Square, the largest urban square in the world.


I gotta say our tour guide was very knowledgeable, a walking wikipedia on the history of Beijing, mention anything he always had a answer that usually went on and on and on so much so my brain started to hurt with way too much information,Temple this, Dynasty that, but mention..."Tank Man"..................................................................................................................................
......................................................................ribbit............................................................., silence fell, now from what I've been told, there have been major advancements in the personal freedoms and choices of the Chinese peoples over the last several years but there is still one major topic or taboo that no one is allowed to talk about and that is the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Our tour guide either skirted or changed the subject every time I brought it up, there is no information on the subject over there, for some strange reason I thought there would be an X marking the spot or some kind of monument, seems the government is trying to either delete or re-write that part of their history. When I asked "can you at least point to the approximate area where it happened?" he hesitated then slowly pointed straight ahead down by the trees and and lamp posts on the image below. The avenue it occurred on, and you can see cars in the image below traveling on it is called Chang'an, it runs between Tiananmen Square and the entrance to the Forbidden City. Even today Freight trucks are not allowed to use the road and no commercial advertising is allowed within 100 metres of the street.



The government blocked twitter, blogger and even hotmail due to the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, control the information flow, control the people.

That night I was watching the BBC news in my hotel room, they were reporting on a group of teenage students that were just quarantined at the Beijing Hospital, the reporter was saying the hospital was taking good care of them and that they were all having a great time, as he was reporting the camera was zooming in on the group about 30 or so yards away from the camera, behind a shoulder length chain link fence they were waving and smiling away to the reporters......., just kind of seemed a little staged, maybe not, maybe they were having a great time....behind the chain link fence.

This whole H1N1 thing brings up another question, the "F" word, what do the locals do if they feel a fever coming on? Do they sweat it out in hopes it's nothing too serious or do they pack their bags and expect to be away for a couple weeks? I asked the guide about this as well, he just laughed and said no problem, stay at home til better. The person sitting next to me on the plane was heading to Beijing from Vancouver to visit his family. I asked him how he felt about the virus and the quarantine, he said, China was a big place , lots of people and the government had to be careful.... that was it, then he went back to playing video games, he brought his laptop and was playing some cool space shooting game, and was actually very good, I dropped some hints about taking a turn, I even fixed his adapter for him so he could run it off the plane's electricity and said things like "cool game", and "how many lives do you have left", "I have a PS3" but he didn't take the hints, so I went back to watching "The Man From Planet X".

From Tiananmen square we entered The Forbidden City, 980 buildings and 8,700 rooms.
The Forbidden City was the imperial palace to the Ming and Qing dynasties, was built between 1406 and 1420 and was called forbidden because no one was allowed to enter or leave without the Emperor's permission. Such a huge place with magnificent buildings, again we did a lot of walking around, they kept it very clean, as we were waiting the hour it took for our guide to get through the lines to get tickets I got a picture of a cleaner and his cool witch type broom.


Kunming lake and the Summer Palace were our last stops that day. Once a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi, (Qing Dynasty) it is now a beautiful resort and lake for all to enjoy.

We also took a boat ride across the lake.


and saw some kites.



I'll leave you now with a video of some musical shorts, first a musical selection from the Tang Dynasty show I saw in Xian, then a quick change mask artist, some music from the park, a short of a singer from our Beijing hotel lobby and to end it off an actor from a play I saw, "The Legend Of Kung Fu" hitting a fish drum, fish never close their eyes, well they can't, therefore they are a symbol to monks to remain ever vigilant like them, next stop the Terracotta Warriors.


64 comments:

Astro-Nuts said...

Good post. Lots of good info. I don't think I'll ever get over to China, so this is good to read and see the pictures. If you haven't, you should check out my latest two posts. I finally got lucky with the camera and the Moon.

I'm ramping up for the RASC annual star party at Cypress Hills next week, so I'm hoping for big things from that. I'll keep you posted.

Anyway, talk to you soon.

Anna said...

Oh Bob I don't know how you do it, after such a intense travel, did you ever got some sleep back home, lol, you wrote so much detail about your trip, and did the tour guide liked you on the end, lol. BTW I like oriental music too, every time my friends would go back to China, I asked for it, I used to use it for tai-chi training, it was fun. Hey excellent post again. Anna :)

Texas Travelers said...

Great post.

I love history, current events, and great photography. You had all threee.

Thanks for sharing the adventure and letting me ride along. Almost like being there without the risk of H1N1.

Thanks for the visit and glad you liked the panorama. Blogger downsized my photo. I guess it was too amny pixels wide.

Troy

Moonshadow said...

What a wonderful post, Bob. I really liked your video. Keep the reports coming. :)

Swubird said...

Bob:

Your trip to China was truly the adventure of a lifetime. Thank you so much for sharing it in your comprehensive posts. Really something. And I liked the video. Having one of those T-shirts is like having a Vegas ball cap the casinos used to give if you got a Royal Flush. I have one and I guard it with my life.

Keep posting the good news. Love it all.

Happy trails.

happy trails.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Colin thanks, and great shots in your last posts, good luck with the weather for the star party, hope you can get some good milkyway shots, maybe a meteor or two as well.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anna, lol, I think the guide still liked me, he got annoyed at times though.

Just starting to catch up on my sleep, amazing how traveling saps you of your energy. The music was very cool there, interesting to see how many people are involved in it, much more then here.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Troy, I am going to look into doing some panoramas, with the milky way especially.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Moonshadow, I have a few more to do, kind of hard to let go,lol, had a great time and made some new friends.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks swubird, lol about your cap, I treasure the shirt, won't be picking up another one probably in my lifetime.\m/\m/

Peter said...

Hi! Awe inspiring to say the least! What memories to have and to keep! Yes, I'm green with envy.

Did the fake Rolex watch get through customs? No need to answer that one!

As for the man in Tiananmen Square, perhaps the listening devices put him off somewhat!

As a lad I remember coming across similar music as in your video on an old AM radio. Thought it was quite odd then, only now do I appreciate it and the multitude of centuries behind it all.

Take Care,
Peter

John Maslowski said...

Your travels to China must have been an experience of a lifetime. Fascinating images, I just love the architecture. Excellent captures, truly amazing compositions.

Mike Golch said...

Great posting.

Stephanie B said...

I absolutely love history and spent some time last year reading through some fascinating segments of Chinese history (I prefer older history to what's happened the past 100 years or so). I think it's so cool you've walked through areas I've read about.

I'm so happy for you.

Some gamers are so selfish...

kRiZ cPEc said...

Well, thanks for sharing, the info and the shots. Have a nice weekend.

Shinade aka Jackie said...

Bob this is just a trip of a life time!

Your photos and your accounts are so vivid I can actually feel the excitement jumping right out of my monitor!

Wow CNN really? i watch CNN all the time. I do so hope you do the interview.

Your entire trip has been so exciting that I mentioned you in my post for today.

A little birdie also whispered that you have a birthday some time soon. I hope I haven't missed.

Happy Birthday and I hope it was or will be a fantastic day!

Happy weekend!
Jackie:-)

Dr. Lauren said...

What a great tour Bob. You know, terracotta warriors are so fascinating to me. There is so much mystery to them.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Peter, yes the watches got through customs,lol, actually I don't think my bags were checked at all. The Chinese music I also remember for my early days and also thought how odd it was compared to the Beatles,lol.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks a lot John, China leads itself to photography, I'd like to see what you would have done with the older images in HD.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks a lot Mike, and thanks for dropping by.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Stephanie, me too, like real old history, always been fascinated with the older dynasties, the fact there were so many and their walls, seemed every city had a protective wall around it.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks kRiZ, you have a great weekend too.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Jackie, I did the interview with CNN the day of, was great and another experience that was just too cool for school.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Dr. Lauren, the Terracotta army is almost classified as the 8th wonder of the world, so much history and the amount of work that went into building them is remarkable.\m/\m/

Will said...

Those medical inspections caught a whole plane load of our local kids who went on a cultural exchange trip to China last month. A few tested positive for the Swine Flu and the whole group was quarantined for weeks. They never did get to do their trip as they were secluded in a hotel if they were healthy, and in a clinic/hospital if they tested positive. Most are home now, but what an ordeal it was for them!

betchai said...

wow, love the details of the trip you shared, and the pictures. probably i too would buy the t-shirt that says i climbed the great wall if i were there :) i would love to wear it too haha!

haha, i love going to chinatown when in SF, i can do some bargaining when i buy my trinkets :) i don't know if i would be able to do some bargaining in China since i don't speak Chinese, but i would love to go there someday.

Bob Johnson said...

Wow Will, but I bet they had a great time,lol.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks betchai, most of the vendors can speak a little english, enough for you to bargin with them, they know all the tricks but still a person can get some great deals.\m/\m/

PJ said...

great information that you have given here. i have learned a lot just from your post. very well written with great photos. sounds like a wonderful adventure indeed.

Carole said...

Wow Bob, how lucky to get to China. You must've had a great time. Lovely set of images documenting your stay there. I particularly like the litter sweepers.. LOL love the brush they are using.

Lynda Lehmann said...

An amazing journey and post, Bob, chock full of stuff most of us have never seen. I don't know how you managed to absorb it all, and you kept your sense of humor throughout!

Sure was a monumental week for you. If it were me, I would have been so excited i wouldn't have slept a wink!

Just leave it to you to be the guy who asks the questions! I'm glad your guide didn't overreact. After all, he could be arrested if he says the wrong thing. :(

Too bad the guy on the plane didn't let you in on the video game. Your account of this is very funny!

Thank you, Mr. Johnson, for a great post.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks PJ, it was a wonderful adventure indeed,\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Carole,lol, I loved the brooms they used over there too, they seemed to work very well, oh and I liked their hats too.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Lynda, I hardly slept at all while I was over there, just like Christmas morning every time I woke up, had to keep your sense of humor, so many incidences happening all the time, at least for me,lol.\m/\m/

Swubird said...

Bob:

I just stopped by Lynda's site. She is excited about her new telescope that you gave her. She calls it her Bobascope. LOL. She also said it was your birthday, so happy B-day! Live long and prosper and keep on truckin'.

Happy trails.

Acadia said...

That was enough information for 10 posts - congrats on having the opportunity to take the trip!

Cashmere said...

Hey Bob! Thanks for letting us in on your experience.. Would love to visit the places you did too..

Swubird mentioned it's your birthday? Is it true? If so, Happy Belated to you!

p/s: Did you experience any culture shock? I heard the Chinese people love to spit everywhere.. =\

Bob Johnson said...

Lol swubird, love the Bobascope name, yes I saw her post, was very kind of her, thanks for the Happy Birthday as well.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Acadia, it turned out to be quite the adventure.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Cashmere, culture shock big time, didn't notice the spitting but every one smoked and the amount of traffic and the way they never use signal lights, just honk and push their way in, takes a while to get used to.\m/\m/

AngelBaby said...

Wonderful, just wonderful. I have really enjoyed seeing China through your eyes. You have done a marvelous job of showing all of us what it was like there. I am glad you had such an awesome experience.

Love and Blessings,
AngelBaby

sexy legs and body said...

Fantastic post, love it, beautiful pics Bob.
Thanks also for visiting and commenting on my site, really appreciate your input.
Colin.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks AngelBaby, I did have a super time in China and like sharing this once in a lifetime experience.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Colin thanks and I like commenting on other peoples blogs that make me laugh, in a good way,lol.\m/\m/

Max Coutinho said...

Hey Bob :D!

Whoa, you were frisked at Vancouver? Why? Do you think it was LS who told them to do it? LOL LOL LOL ;)...

Music, good harvests and activities are an excellent reason to go to the temple...I love the history of the Chinese Empire: it is so rich and powerful!
Me too: I love traditional Chinese music...it is so soothing! And their opera is also very good. I won't even mention their ballet corps which is very very good!

Ah, Tai Chi...did you know that I practice it? Did you join this group, Bob?

Oh China, China...the day they allow people to freely talk about Tiananmen and free Tibet: I will stop admiring the Chinese Empire only and begin to respect Modern China *nodding*.

Well, Lord of the Astrostuff, I tried to listen to the video...but no sound (for the second time): I don't know if it is on my end or what :(...

Anyway, superb post: I had loads of fun :D!

Have a great week!

Cheers

Shinade aka Jackie said...

Every time I come in for a visit I am just blown away at this incredible adventure.

It's hard for me to even imagine. I love history and this is definitely a dream trip for me.

Thanks for hosting my card today and I hope you have a wonderful week Bob!!:-)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Max, I didn't know you practiced Tai Chi, very cool, I know a few moves, lol.

Yes I love their traditional music, did you know they have a few punkers in Beijing, hasn't quite caught on yet, but it shows the government is loosening up where music is concerned a little. They also are excellent in acrobatics, saw a show while I was there. Too bad about the audio, that of course is the main part, you may want to try firefox if you haven't already, I never could get IE to work with youtube, thanks for dropping by Max and have a great week.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Jackie, it was a trip of a lifetime, and the blog is a great way to share and document it before I forget, as I have a tendency to do,forget that is,lol.\m/\m/

Dorothy said...

Wow my husband bicycled China with 50 others in 1991 (he's an ultra marathon cyclist)and I'm fascinated by your trip I'd be scared to go there. However your site is incredible and I'm going to share it with my grandson Noah when he comes this weekend.

Dorothy from grammology
grammology.com

Mike said...

Hey Bob,
Thanks for the continued posts on your trip to China - the next best thing to being there. I enjoyed the post and great photos.

Don said...

Amazing stories and thoughts! I have been out of blog world, but Ruth has been keeping me up with your happenings. You have so many great photos and anecdotes. You may need to write a book!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Dorothy, cool your husband cycled China that would really be something and thanks for wanting to share my site with Noah!\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Mike, I'm finding it's a good way to document the trip.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Don, glad you like the write up, it was unforgettable but just in case I do forget which I have a tendency to do I'm writing everything down while it's fresh in my memory.\m/\m/

kml said...

You certainly have had an experience of a lifetime, and you captured some great photos too! I have enjoyed your posts, and waited to read them until I had to time to really enjoy them. I didn't want to miss a word - I felt like I was there too!

Thanks for sharing all your stories - I love them!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Kathy, glad you like the posts, thanks for taking the time to stop by and read them.\m/\m/

Priyank said...

Hi Bob, This is the closest I've been to China. Surprisingly, none of my the travel bloggers I know have written about China, so your information is nice to know. I saw a documentary about the T-square, it was very sad and very brutal. I hate communism. :)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Priyank, Yes communism sucks, too much power for the government, the ability to curtail people's freedoms and say in an instant, like with the internet, and the ability to re write history as in the Tiananmen square protests, or at least try to.\m/\m/

Marvin the Martian said...

I'm glad you got to see so much without getting arrested for some political infraction! Wonderful pix Bob .

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, thanks Marvin, well my wife gave me explicit instructions not to get arrested, so I didn't.\m/\m/

Genie said...

Beautiful, amazing! What fantastic experiences you had! I'm only sorry I haven't kept up more. Wow, Bob, you're the man!

Bob Johnson said...

Hey thanks Genie!\m/\m/

Logo said...

Just starting to catch up on my sleep, amazing how traveling saps you of your energy. The music was very cool there, interesting to see how many people are involved in it, much more then

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