A Hutong gateway
These are my impressions of China, just a few things I saw on my travels that I noticed or was amazed at! Firstly I will say the Chinese people are extremely friendly, we all got used to having our photos taken wherever we went, and also many people said hello to us. The children (who are just very cute!) were mesmerised by us, they just stared and if we were lucky we got a very shy wave from them. Because of the one child policy, which is still in force, the children we saw were adored by their parents and families. Sadly we also saw some children being used by their mothers for begging purposes, which was really not so good. The old Chinese people are wonderful, one day I was told by one old lady that I was very beautiful, according to her granddaughters translation - that made me feel very special
A typical street scene.
The view from our Hotel window
Beijing is a wonderful city, it is very open and spacious and extremely clean, no rubbish on the streets, mainly because everywhere you go there are men and women just sweeping up any rubbish there is. Also you see clean washing everywhere, hanging on clothes lines strung between the trees in the streets if there is nowhere else to hang it! Architecture ranges from the Hutongs (courtyard houses) which are the older, original homes, the skyscrapers, which look like they were built in the 1960’s, and which are quite tatty, through to the ultra modern buildings which are popping up all over the City.
A typical tower block
We never did find out what this building was!
Transport in the City consists of the Tubes, which cost 20p for a single journey to go anywhere in the city, buses, bicycles, not as many as there used to be and of course cars and taxis. Taxi fares start at 10 yuan (approx £1) and most journeys anywhere in the city cost approximately £2, so it makes sense to take taxis for most journeys, at least until you get used to using the Underground! Crossing the roads takes some getting used to, if there are driving rules I have no idea what they are! Amazingly it does seem to work though! The main ring roads (there are 4 I think) consist of 5 lanes of cars, 1 bus lane and a bicycle lane in each direction, these are crossed by using under passes , thank goodness! The smaller roads do not have so many traffic lanes but can be a bit scary to cross, my daughter told us to follow any Chinese people and stop when they do. That is sound advice because even if the pedestrian crossings are showing green to cross the road, the car and taxi drivers just drive anyway!!
The tiny roads – looking for Hutongs!
Door handles, wonderful!
The entrance to a Hutong, complete with modern electricity boxes!
Wonderful painting, hidden away from the usual tourist haunts.
An alley leading off from the road.
Everywhere you go there are trees, usually planted in straight lines, also seeing bamboo growing is a common sight, which is good news for the Pandas!! Outside our hotel we noticed holes being dug at regular intervals in the wide pavements. The holes were about 1 1/2 metres square and were being dug by hand, by women as well as men. The holes were quite deep and the digging went on for a few days. At night they were not marked, had no barriers round them etc. The Chinese are not very hot on Health and Safety apparently! Anyway back to the holes... we were walking down the road one morning and all the holes had been filled overnight, with youngish trees, about 4 metres high!! My daughter informs us that all sorts of work of this sort is done during the night!
Our hotel was the building on the right.
You can see the trees that appeared overnight on the left of this photo.
One early evening I had a walk round the block on my own, I was a little apprehensive, but there really was no reason to be. At one stage I was the only Westerner on the street but everyone just went about their business and apart from the odd ‘hello’ I was taken no notice of. It was lovely to see how the native Chinese really live and not just visit the usual tourist sites. On my walk I found the Police Station, the Health Centre, the local Catholic Cathedral and a lovely little park where families gathered and a Dad was teaching his daughter how to roller skate. I thoroughly enjoyed my walk, and a few days later my sister in law and I took another walk in the area.
The small shops away from the main roads.
This building could be seen for miles, it was our landmark, if we headed towards this we knew we were near out hotel!
Over the road from the hotel, a good mixture of old and modern.
South Cathedral and the little park.
Beijing is a very safe city generally the only thing that visitors need to watch out for is pickpockets. While we were visiting The Summer Palace my daughter looked down to see a man with a pencil easing open the zip on her handbag. He disappeared instantly and there was no harm done, but we were very careful after that! Having seen where my daughter lives and studies was fascinating, we were amazed at the size of the University, or should I say the University Library! I can really understand my daughters wish to go back to China maybe to live sometime in the future, I certainly would love to go there again.
The ultra modern Banking area near to a wonderful shopping centre
There are lots more I could tell you about, but I am sure more facts will appear in later blogs. Beijing, Xi’an and the countryside we saw were all amazing, we loved it all and we hope you will enjoy sharing some of our adventures in later blogs J Pandas next........:)
The Library at my daughters University!!
Another Hutong entrance gate, just beautiful!