samedi 31 mars 2007

First days in Beijing

As this blog is now also viewed by non-french readers, I'll write entries in English from now on. This is also a good way to improve my written English level...
So, sorry Mom and Dad, you'll need a little extra effort to follow me on my journey in China :)

I left Tianjin on a very cloudy Friday midday.
Getting to Beijing from Tianjin was not so simple as I'd thought it to be. I managed to get to the correct railway station by taxi but that was the easy part.
Because there was no single "Railway station" building but many, and in each building there were many places to buy tickets from. There were also tickets you could buy outside. Worse, nothing - at all - was written in English.
There was people everywhere, fast pacing, with their luggages, going from one building to another.

After staring a moment at this complete chaos, I understood that there was a specific building to get a one-way ticket and another to get a return ticket. For what destination, that was another question...
In this mess, while I was trying to find the correct building to buy the ticket from, many drivers were offering me to drive me to Beijing, so I just selected the cheapest. It was almost the same price as the train ticket anyway and with that I got a confortable place in a nice car that drived me from Tianjin to Beijing and left me not far from my hotel.

As it was too late to visit anything, I went to the Tian'Anmen square to see how big it really is. And it *really* IS big.
And to add to the charm there were many kites in the sky.

Today (staturday) morning, since it was the week end, I decided to avoid visiting places like the Tian'Anmen surroundings, the Forbidden City or the Summer Palace.

Instead, I walked a little in the town, passing by some hutongs, and went to the Dongyue temple, also known as the Folk Museum. As for every temple, it was a very peaceful place, where the only sounds were caused by small wooden plates and small bells that bumped in each others as the wind was blowing.
I also enjoyed a great Chinese traditional toys exhibition in the museum.

I visited next the Poly Art Museum where the SUPINFO student card granted me a free ticket :) This museum consists mainly on the exhibition of China ancient bronze treasures from the ancient Shang dynasty (1700 BC) to the Tang one (900 AD).
It was very interesting to see the transformation of the written characters in the bronze. At first (the Shang dynasty), they are just little drawings of an object or an activity. Then, as time goes by, they become more and more complex to finally obtain the shape of the
current Chinese characters.

Next I walked a little bit in the city, discovering more hutongs, followed the vestige of the Ming wall at Chongwenmen and stopped by the South-Est Corner Tower.
It was then time to rest :)

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