On driving through Beijing on the way from the airport, my parents and i were struck by how MASSIVE everything seemed. Huge wide streets lined with huge solid buildings gave way to huge wide neighborhoods enclosed by solid grey walls. Our hotel was right in the middle of the city, but it took nearly half an hour to go anywhere by taxi. Distances on the map were deceptive, and the wide streets were overfull of VERY solid cars. The six-lane roads made left turns an impossibility, so everything was huge loops and access roads. After the tiny, almost delicate streets of Tokyo, Beijing seemed built on an almost inhuman scale. A city of force and magnitude, overpowering its inhabitants. We went first to The Temple of Heaven, and walked northward through its expansive grounds for two solid hours.
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The Temple of Heaven
A man practices his character-writing in water on the hot pavement.
The low admission price and beautiful park grounds made this a popular hangout for the locals. They sat along the low walls of the Long Corridor, playing cards, swapping gossip, and even doing karaoke.
Most of the girls and women carried parasols to beat the 95 degree heat. My father bought a lovely blue one for himself. Lucky for him, i resisted taking his picture.
My Birthday Party At Annie's Italian Restaurant, then back to the hotel for cake.
My mum and dad, and stormgald, who i hadn't seen since our graduation three years ago. He acted as guide and interpreter for two days, and showed us The Real Beijing, and was generally totally awesome and helpful, and he gave me a really gorgeous pen for my birthday! Three cheers for Mike!
Me and Mike, looking Not Terribly Photogenic.
Cake a la Grand Hyatt Hotel
Tiananmen Square by night. We took a walk to work off the chocolate mousse.
The view across the square from in front of the Gate of Heavenly Peace, Tiananmen itself.
Me + Lion + Mao