Friday, 27 June 2008

One World, One Dream... one week

The one year old train from UB to Beijing made the thirty hours pass surprisingly quickly. Some bright spark had the idea of putting air-conditioning on trains the trundle through 40'C heat. Although the personal DVD screens would have been more useful if they hadn't only shown XXX (dubbed in French with Russian subtitles), a Mongolian teen drama, or some wierd music video / porn concoction.

T24 seemed to be the temporary home to everyone we'd met in the previous two or three weeks: from the Moscow train, the Irkutsk hostel, Mongolian train, all eight from the Terelj trip, as well as a handful of others... although my suspicions were correct, that we'd all disperse into the fourteen million bicycles, five million bicycles (apparently), and the billions of olympic moscots which populate every shop in the city...


Ok, well Beijing is hot and humid and covered in a blanket of Lima-esque cloud (or, if the delightful Aussie on the train is the believed, it's actually smog from the burning of all the cheap Antipodean coal; and pigs can fly), contains more residential tower blocks and Chinese restaurants than I though possible, and taxi drivers with very limited geographical knowledge of their workplace.

On closer inspection, there are also many big red walls, stone lions, green and blue policemen, and small dogs... Now, these dogs are not of the malnourished midget mongrel variety familiar back home, nor the handbag dwelling peroxide-permed-blow-dried poodles of Russia. No, the Beijing ones are far worse. They come in all (small) sizes, (inappropriate) shapes, (hideous) colours and (high yappy) pitches imaginable; from guinae pigs on stilts, to furry toads, slightly oversized mice, and electrocuted rabbits. Enough said.

The standard Beijing sights have been explored: The Forbidden City, Lama Temple, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, Mao's mausoleum (eventually), hutons, markets and a couple of Olymic stadiums (stadia?).

The "Birdsnest" appears to have been intentionally designed to camouflage perfectly with the sky; usign #204 grey. The stadium itself is finished, but the supporting infrastructure is erm, not. A few small tasks remain, including building two more metro lines, surfacing some roads, planting a few hundred trees, fixing the escalators (which currently lead nowhere but the sky), and plastering another few thousand Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini images to road signs, shops, taxis and any other available surfaces...

Highlight of China (no prizes for guessing) was a very big, old, long wall. Went to the steep Samati section. From the resevoir climbed up to the rope bridge (to the Jing______ section), and upto tower #1 (of 12). Another Wonder of the World which failed to disappoint, and look exactly like it should. Snaking its way across steep mountains and deep green forest, with frequent towers (which are surprisingly spacious inside). The Samati section is mostly steps, but some sections were just gently sloped - a relief in the heat, but presumably lethal in the icey winters? View from the top was pretty impressive (if not somewhat hazy). Almost more remarkable than that was the lack of midweek company on the wall; even at the top of the cable car (for cheats) there were only a handful of fellow tourists....


Now less than twenty four hours until home time...

1 comment:

James said...

Cow meat pasta. Mmmm, delicious.