Wasn't this the name of some Academy Award winning movie? Anyway. Today was a great last day in China. I worked for most of the morning/early afternoon, and then headed out to go to the Forbidden City - which is one spot I hadn't made it and really wanted to go. Sadly, it turns out the Forbidden City closes at 4:00pm, and no they don't make exceptions. Especially for me and the four midwestern fat asses that were pleading our case. (I can say that, I'm from the midwest!)
So I set off on a new adventure - walking along the edge of the Forbidden City to see where I ended up, and take some pictures on yet another blue sky day in Beijing.
Not really knowing what do to next, I decided to head towards Tiananmen Square for some more picture taking. I took this kind looking old man up on his offer to take me on a rickshaw ride. His price was 50RMB, which is about $9, and nearly two times what I pay for a 45 min ride via taxi to my hotel. But, this was one guy I was not going to haggle with for an extra dollar or two savings. So I happily jumped in the back, and got to feel what it's like to travel by bike (with no shocks) in Beijing, with all its traffic and crazy pedestrian glory.
Arriving at Tiananmen Square, I learned that you are not supposed to take pictures of the military guards. Apparently I was a long way from Buckingham Palace where you can do anything short of hump a guard to make him laugh.
What people don't realize, I think, is how many Chinese tourists have come to Beijing for the Games. On the Olympic Green, at tourist attractions or in the events I'd say over 90% of the attendees are Chinese. At places like Tiananmen Square, I was one of the loan caucasians. Despite the fact that I had no USA gear on, I got several requests to be in photos. Maybe they recognized me from my blog. Or not.
My day ended near the National Center for the Performing Arts - a building much heralded for its architecture in the US press - where I spent about an hour writing in a journal I bought for this trip. (I know, I can't believe I still have stuff to put down after talking and blogging all day, either.)
This was my first trip to Asia, and I really enjoyed it. While you can tell that Beijing really pulled out the stops on everything from transportation to the number of volunteers to the landscaping, it really is a great (BIG) city with wonderful people. Everyone I met made a good impression (save my lunatic cab driver from last night) and went over and above to welcome me to Beijing and make sure I was having a good time. So thank you Beijing, I liked this city much more than I thought I would and have only great memories on my way out.