Big Trip 2002 - On to Beijing

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This is Tiananmen Square, once covered with demonstrators for democracy, now a struggling tourist trap. China is not a democracy by any stretch of the imagination, but there is order. Many police were in evidence, but many of them were very young. Most were unarmed, but I saw no trouble of any type. I felt a little paranoid as I wandered the backstreets and alleyways taking pictures, but was never challenged.

This is the "beauty shot" that proves that Dennis was not just skipping out on school, but rather studying history, culture, and foreign videogames. The portrait of Mao hangs over the entrance to the Forbidden City. The current government has revised history to say that Mao was 50% right and 50% wrong with the Cultural Revolution, revised from a previous regime's 80% right.

After passing through the portal to the Forbidden City, one is, of course, struck by the depth of history. China has been building a civilization for millenia. I'm sure that some Chinese think that America is just a passing fad.

Dennis in the Forbidden City. The architecture is fabulous and fairly well maintained. After Japan, China is, in a word, dirty. There seems to be a glaze of dirt on most everything. No one is polishing the shop windows before they open.

We arrived in Beijing too late to take the Forbidden City tour, but we walked around quite a bit. We entered the F.C. from the South, walked up through the courtyards, then exited out the east gate. This view is looking back toward the east gate. We've gone at least half a mile and we're not to the end of the east wing of the F.C. You may also notice that the pond on the left is frozen, as the weather was quite nippy (it's January).

Walk a block or two from the centuries-old Forbidden City and into the future. The Chinese have adopted modern architecture with a vengeance. On the street, you see a few bikes waiting at the light. I had heard stories about vast seas of bikes, but there were more cars than bikes. The primary transportation seems to be diesel buses. A far cry from Japan's immaculate subway. No shortage of cars here, either.

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