06 May 2004

Greetings From Tiananmen Square

Well, not exactly, I am diagonally across the street right now. I visited the square today on the holiday to see all the people flying their kites in the breeze. The air is dusty and hazy, the weather rather warm (perhaps even hot?), but the breeze is nice as is the occasional bit of shade.

It will be rather impossible to describe the size of the place, really one must see it to understand it. I haven't gone into the forbidden city yet -- tomorrow morning. And Mao's mausoleum isn't open right now, but at least I know it will be free to go in. They have rather limited hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays (it is Thursday, isn't it?).

Being largely without web access is a bit disturbing for someone like me, who really has spent most of the last seven years on a computer, always in touch with everything. But then again, there is something to be said for being out and about, getting a sunburn and walking miles and miles each day.

I will say that every time I stop or pause to write something in my journal, I get secretive glances from security forces, of which there appear to be several different types (or so It seems, based on the variety of uniform styles and types).

A final note. If you arrive at Tiananmen Square and a college student offers to show you an art exhibit and practice their English while you learn about art and culture -- yes, those tingling feelings in the back of your neck are right, they were placed on the square to lure you in. That said, the student exhibits are nice, the guides very informative about all aspects of Chinese painting and calligraphy and it is really a rather soft sell at the end. And the prices range from around twenty to forty dollars U.S. if you do get schnookered into buying a painting, but 10 percent will go to the tuition of the student who roped you into the exhibit. And they'll even do a personalized calligraphy for you for free, as a gift. So while the alarm bells were right on, the cause isn't all that bad.

Anyway, until my next run-in with a computer, have a wonderful day, and if you need a kite, there are plenty of people really insistent you buy theirs on the Square.

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