Friday, June 8, 2012


In Beijing there is so much to do.  Too much to do really.  We arrived worn out after three long days of hiking, so we knew that we couldn't see it all.  We made a list of priorities: the Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, the Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven Park -- and we stuck to them.  We also planned to go to an acrobatics show (an anniversary gift to Sara from David) and to enjoy an evening in the hutongs, small neighborhoods with narrow alleyways that dot the city. 

Sara's favorite spot in Beijing was Temple of Heaven Park.  In her words "a haven for hobbies."  The majority of the locals in the park were 60 and older and they were all engaged in some sort of fun activity.  Tai Chi, playing cards, dancing, paddle ball, hacky sack, and singing just to name a few!

David joining in the fun and playing paddle ball in the park.  He did really well - those tennis skills coming handy!

David found Tiananmen Square most interesting because it provides a transparent glimpse into the Chinese police state.  Our first attempt to visit the square was thwarted by police and soldiers who were quickly and efficiently emptying the square without explanation.  We think that it had something to do with Vladimir Putin's visit for a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.  In any event, no one but marching troops were allowed near the square.  We went back the next day and were able to walk around the square, but the police presence was ubiquitous.  There were uniformed and plain-clothed officers everywhere.  We definitely watched what we said.  Most Chinese citizens were searched as they neared the square.  Tourists -- at least those that appeared not to be Chinese -- were waved on through.  We saw one man walking along in front of us carrying a piece of paper.  An officer walked up to him, snatched it from his hand, and tore it up in front of him.  We can only imagine what would have happened were he wearing a "Free Tibet" t-shirt.  Before we had read about it and heard about it, but now we have seen it with out own eyes.  The oppression in China is real.  Just visit Tiananmen Square.

Tian' Anmen Square Great Hall of the People

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