Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Beijing - All Over

And so, just like that, I'm back in California. As I was packing in Beijing it seemed that I'd been there forever but now I'm back it feels like it was only yesterday that I was getting ready to go. Travel does odd things to time.

The last week started to stretch into a blur of activity with additional colleagues arriving and others leaving to return to the US. After about 20 straight days of work I could take a couple of days off. With only a fixed time in Beijing and only some of that to be used for personal time and shooting I wanted to make the most of it.

On my first day I visited Tiantan, the Temple of Heaven. It's an enormous complex of temples and gardens with a truly amazing place. A place where people dance, play cards, chinese chess, tai chi. You name it, people are doing it in the gardens of the Temple of Heaven.

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From there I moved on to lunch near Tiananmen Square and then on to the Military Museum. I wanted to visit the Museum for some research on my book but it proved to be more than I expected. Full of aircraft, tanks and other items of military memorabilia but also fascinating exhibits about the various battles fought by China over the centuries.

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After schlepping around the Temple of Heaven and the Museum my legs were sore. I sat outside the Museum and rearranged my camera gear, flagged a cab down and asked the driver to take me to the area of the Dongsi Hutongs. As soon as he set off I fell asleep. I woke up to find the driver shaking me and telling me that I had arrived - somewhere. I paid him and stepped out in to the street. I could barely open both my eyes I was so tired. It was late in the afternoon and I could see that the sun was heading down, that gave me a bearing as I headed into the little back alleys.

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It's official Beijing is huge. I walked for miles and miles, always in the right direction, getting ever closer to my hotel... and then I gave up and jumped into the subway. It was only two stations away but two stations in Beijing are not like two stations in New York.

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