Sunday, June 10, 2007

Beijing by Taxi

So here am, sitting in another taxi. I don’t know if I’m dizzy from the traffic or the exhaust fumes. Perhaps I’m dehydrated. The heat is starting to get to me. The driver has the radio going; a lone female voice twists her way out of the speakers. At this point, it’s all background noise: the voice, the blaring horns, everything. We zigzag in and out and I search for landmarks but I recognize nothing. We should be going back in the general direction from whence I came, but even that is uncertain. I’m glad I picked up a business card of the hotel where I am staying. The address is written on the card in both English and Chinese. I make a mental note to remember to do that at all my stops. The last thing I need is to be unable to find my way back to my hotel in a city with a population of close to 16 million.

I have decided to go to Jingshan park. I don’t know much about it except that it is a man made mountain that was constructed sometime in the Ming dynasty. This 47.5 metre hill was created from the dirt extracted from around the Forbidden City to create the palace moat. It is both impressive and somewhat appalling to think that the dirt was moved by hand. Feng Shui dictates the auspiciousness of locating a residence to the south of a hill. Apparently there were no such hills in Beijing. But being the Emperor does have its advantages, and unlimited free man power is one of them. But all said, the park still sounds quite inviting. I’m longing for some green space: trees and flowers would be nice.

18 comments:

PortraitofPeter said...

One cannot comprehend the magnitude of so many people within such confines.

I do agree to be away from the city for both sanity and freedom of space is all the more appealing.

I am enjoying your tour and cannot wait for the next episode with amazing photos.

Carla said...

Peter, It really is mind boggling, especially for someone like me who lives where there is such a vastness of space. The reality is that some of the smallest villages in China have populations larger than some of the largest cities in Canada. It certainly changes one's perspective.

Debbie said...

As Peter said, it IS mind boggling to think of all of those people living so close together. The picture of the bicycle riders captures the moment so well and gives me a small glimpse of what it must be like over there. The picture of the lady sitting on the ground is amazing. I love how your photos really show the culture and not just tourist spots.

I'm also looking forward to the next chapter.

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

Thank you for taking me along on the trip~ I'm having a great time!

Carla said...

Debbie, it is a very different experience. It's difficult to explain but everything nothing is really as we know it.

Sandi, I'm happy to hear that you're enjoying yourself. The voyage has only just started.

tkkerouac said...

I love reading about your trip to China. How long are you there for? Love this picture of the little Chinese girl, may I pinch it?
When I was in NYC, I felt the same way about needing to find some greenery and space.
Central Park was the closet I could get to this feeling, amongst the concrete jungle.

Sirdar said...

I am sure enjoying your "trip" to China. Glad you started this.

I work with some people from China. We did the Google Earth thing and they showed me their place. It was a small city of only 13 million. We in Canada have no idea what it is like to be so crowded. We have so much empty space it boggles the mind.

Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

Carla said...

Hi Tracy, I was there for a month. And yes, I will post the women with the bound feet just as soon as I get to the Forbidden Palace. Be my guest, the pic of the little girl is yours.

Sirdar, Until you've actually been there, it's really hard to fathom, even knowing the numbers. It's just so different. You are most welcome.

Variant E said...

You know; I don't know how I stumbled onto your sight but I enjoy the stories. I'm a big traveller but I've not been to much of China (although I have been to about 7 other Asian countries). I like the mix of story and photo you do.

Steffi said...

It´s really interesting to read and see where you where already in the world!I like and enjoy it to read it!

Carla said...

Variant E, Glad you're enjoying the stories. I enjoy the traveling part. So which Asian countries have you been too?

Steffi, Asia is a very interesting part of the world. It's quite different from what we know both in North America and Europe.

Annie Wicking and Loman Austen said...

Wonderful, Thank you for showing us the real China.

I look forward to reading more.

Best wishes

Annie

The Fool said...

Hi Nomad. That is an amazing story about Jingshan. The feats that have been accomplished in so many cultures via slave labor. And still aptly true today. I am always fascinated by the faces of children. They all share something lost to us as adults. This series works well, Nomad. I look forward to the next installment.

Carla said...

Annie, China really is an amazing place for so many reasons. I've probably already said it, but everything is an adventure.

Fool, Every time I turned around in China there was another feat. Unbelievable, even more so to actually experience it. I understand what you mean about faces. For me it's not just children but all ages. But there is something undeniably precious in the faces of children

Fede said...

Hi, let me join the party. I also love faces. I do especially like faces of unaware people. I like to stop them in the very instant of the click because the life seems suspended and intrinsically true. A few years ago I had asked an old lady if I could take a picture, but she refuted as she was worried I might steal her soul. We were in Italy at that time, and I would have expected such a reaction from a recently discovered population out a no man's land.
I like the first picture, if not for the way it has been cut.
I wonder what will be your feelings when you will be watching the picture's kid in 15 years. . The sentence is in italic because it doesn't sound right. What's wrong with it? I am off to bed! Night.

Carla said...

Fede, I agree that a photo snapped when one is unaware that they are being watched has special qualities that can't be captured elsewhere. I took a picture of this elderly woman in Italy that I absolutely love. I didn't post it as I wondered what one would feel like if they accidentally happened upon my site and recognized the person or were the person. (Yes, I know, it's a very rare chance.) Perhaps I'll post the picture tomorrow if I have the chance.

I think what you mean (in italics) is, "I wonder what you will feel looking at this kid's picture 15 years from now." Tell me if I'm right. Good night.

Fede said...

Hi,
I am curious. If you don't plan to post it you may consider to send it by email and I'll to guess where you took it.

And yes, that's what I wanted to say. But you were smart enough to remove the second attempt to use the future. I meant, your sentence is perfect, but in Italian I would have used the double future which, I now remember, can be translated with future-present tense:
"I wonder how you will feel when you see this picture again", but I am changing the sentence...
OK, I am being picky now...
Good night and good luck.

Carla said...

Fede, I will post the picture, but you still can guess where I took it. I'm not sure if it will be evident. I actually took two pictures, in the first you can see that the woman is in conversation with a man. Perhaps they are not the best pictures, but the two look so natural in their environment totally unaware that they were being observed. That is why I like it.

And yes, how you changed the sentence works just as well as what I had suggested. Verb tenses can be complicated...that and prepositions.