china tour part 2

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beijing is a great place.  very clean and nice folks but a traffic nightmare.  the whole damn country is a traffic nightmare.  it reminded me of saigon at times.  chinese drive worse than vietnamese in saigon or mexicans in mexico.  just goddamn amazing.  you could not drive there.  if you tried you would either be frozen with fear at the curb or dead in about 2 seconds.  yeah, it’s that bad.  blow the horn and go. pass on the right?  sure why not.  cross double yellow lines to pass cars with cars coming at you.  piece of cake.  cars going the wrong way or in your lane with the horn blaring.  miss your off ramp on the freeway?  no problem put it in reverse and just back up on the freeway.  illegal but nobody cared.  you name it and they did it.  the tour bus driver too.  but you sorta got used to it.  strange thing is we only saw a couple of accidents with all the driving around we did.  some cops out but not enough by any stretch.  they need a battalion or 2 of traffic cops in every town.  plus out on the highways.

they are supposedly going to ‘fix’ the traffic troubles in beijing for the old limp dicks.  yeah, well they sorta did here in l.a. for the 1984 deal. but i find it hard to believe the chinese can pull it off.  unless they figure on rolling the tanks out along with a division or two of soldiers.  there’s traffic nightmares then there’s chinese and beijing traffic nightmares. 

while in beijing we saw tienanmen square and were told to avoid anybody protesting anything.  we didn’t see any of that.  the place was packed.  but then everywhere we went was packed like disneyland on a crowded day.  mostly chinese tourists.  you have to remember there are billions of them.  plus tours from here and euroland plus a few from latin america.  then of course, the chinese tours with chinese from other parts of china as well.

we also saw the forbidden city which they were remodeling for the limp dicks.  amazingly packed too and in a smaller area.  we were told to watch out for pickpockets.  lots of them around working the crowds and usually working in pairs.  the usual modus operandi everywhere in the world.

also on the list was the temple of heaven and the summer palace which is on a big man made lake.  nice place and huge.  highlight there was a boat made of marble.  a big damn thing.  temple of heaven was nice as we got there early.  not that many people.  summer palace was another story.  tons of people.

on the way to the great wall we stopped at ming’s tombs which is sorta like the pyramids but underground.  an amazing place.  also packed with people.

my favorite place on the trip was the great wall. the weather that day was very nice.  the skies clear and the october light was amazing.  perfect for videos and stills.  tons of people out on the wall. just being on that sucker is one amazing experience.  we climbed up to several stations and were going to do more but we came to a spot that was one way traffic only with a cop there directing the traffic.  a glut of people milling about so we nixed going on.  the wall is a hard climb in spots but worth every step.  the great wall is a place i’ll never forget and is worth the whole trip.  thankfully, we did it in good weather.

while on the wall g/f had her picture taken while sitting on a camel.  i was mistaken for actor leslie nielsen.  something that happens now and again.  people wanted to shake my hand and have a photo op with me.  fine.  i wasn’t about to create some international incident by trying to splain stuff to the local chinese.  not me.  so today there’s more than a few chinese who probably have our picture on a wall in their house and they tell folks about meeting the great american actor while visiting the great wall.   

on a side drift the weather was ok most of the trip. not hot except in guilin but not that bad there. the fall is probably the best time of year for china.  not hot and not cold, yet.  summer is blistering and it’s to cold in winter.  spring is not good either unless it’s late spring.  i could not imagine our trip in summer.  it would have been a killer. even with air conditioned buses and hotels.  people going to the old limp dicks are going to be in for one hell of a surprise.  walking all over those places would have been enough to kill me in summertime.  plus more people in summer.  more chinese with kids.  the kids were in school when we were there so it was mostly just chinese oldsters out touring.  as for rain we hit just a tad of drizzle in
beijing one morning.  then the east wind came and blew out the rain and smog.  beijing without smog or whatever is dazzling.  we also hit a small amount of rain in xian too.

the trip back from great wall was a nightmare of biblical traffic proportions.  just jammed with buses, trucks, and cars all just trying to ace each other out and just move.  very scary.  lots of tour buses had people sticking video cameras out windows to shoot the chaos.  myself included.  it turned out the cops or army were pulling all the trucks off the freeway for some reason and that action was causing all of the trouble.  though downtown beijing traffic is almost just as bad.

we finally got to eat a traditional peking duck dinner sometime after 8pm.  which was the usual time with all the traffic and stops we made everywhere every day. like i said we were lucky to get into bed by 10 or 11 most nights.  then up at 6 or maybe 7 if we were lucky and do it all over again.  at any rate the duck dinner was superb.  though not as good as one we ate in hong kong years ago.

i enjoyed our short stay in beijing.  i’d love to go back some day and hang out again.  i’d especially like to go back and wander around on the great wall at least one more time before i pack it in.  

jmh

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