Welcome to the first in a series of photographic essays from my educational month-long adventure in the enigmatic country of China… the fascinating homeland of tea, rice, silk, giant pandas, Confucius, the great wall, the terracotta warriors, and more. We will encounter dozens of curious and delightful people and discover a rich and diverse culture of extremes and contradictions… with more than a few surprises along the way. Welcome to China! First stop: Beijing…
Up arrival, expect to be scanned by an infrared (temperature-sensing) camera that checks every passenger for fever, and possible bird flu.
Normally, I simply wing it when I travel, but the language barrier in China is effectively infinite for me, so I arranged for a driver and English-speaking guide to meet me at each location on my itinerary. Allow me to introduce two really cool, fun, and interesting guys who met me upon arrival at Beijing airport… my driver Mister Wi and tour guide Andrew He.
The notorious Beijing smog is no myth. This is sunset on a cloudless day…
etting Yuan (the basic unit of the Chinese currency Renminbi) is no problem…
ATMs are everywhere, and most have an English language option.
There are literally millions of these t-shirts all over China.
Lunch with one of my “tour guides”, who “wanted to practice his English”, but who is really a very clever scam artist!
Beijing is full of surprises. Here is a young man polishing up the old Buick!
I am still not sure if this was an “official” Coke or just a bootleg version of the American product with a copped logo. It did not quite taste like Coca Cola, but I wondered if the formula were adjusted to suit the Chinese palate.
Connecting with some fun and friendly Chinese cowboys!
Corn on the cob!
Rice, shrimp, and vegetables at Flavor Tang, a very popular fast food chain…
Don’t drink the water!
Preparing for my first ever foot massage, with a lovely cup of tea.
Hanging out with the young emperor and empress (and her enormous hat) in the Forbidden City.
Yummy beef noodle soup… I give myself a grade of B- for chopstick technique.
Silk Street market… A huge tourist trap… Hundreds of assertive shopkeepers and cheap knockoffs of anything you want. I am glad I went if nothing more than to say I was there.
First rickshaw ride.
Playing for “small” money. Playing for “big” money is illegal…
Saying thank you for a lovely lunch in one of the Hutongs.
Why settle for one when you can buy ten thousand?
You can occasionally find some English signage to guide you… and some of the translations are absolutely delightful. Anyone up for some homely style?
Rice is a staple, of course, along with pork and a variety of vegetables…
Mister Wi is the best driver in Beijing!
There are NO rules here.
The first house of worship that I saw in Beijing was a catholic church.
Deadly serious mahjong…
Excuse me… Where are the scorpions on a stick?
All of my hotels had Western-style toilets, but most public facilities were of the squat variety, which takes some getting used to. This one was particularly clean, but do you notice anything missing?
Delightful bi-lingual lesson in civic responsibility.
The Summer Palace…
Temple of Heaven…
Jamming with the party faithful!
Tranquility in the shadow of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
Meeting a gentleman who was apparently descended from Confucius!
Yes, you can write “Frank Peter” in Chinese!
There is still no love lost between China and Japan.
Left leg first, and don’t step on the threshold!
Standing in Tiananmen Square looking towards gate to the Forbidden City.
Check out the security cameras on the light pole.
Changing of the guard, as Chairman Mao looks on.
Night at the Peking Opera…
Saying goodbye to Andrew. He definitely has a general’s nose!
And goodbye to Mister Wi. Let’s benko hi together!