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small travelling circus

nearly fined for spitting!!!

View 1985 on 1985 trip's travel map.

Tuesday 26th March.
Up late.
 Cycle to the Temple of Heaven.
The Emperor of the day used to visit this splendid (the best I reckon) pagoda on auspicious occasions. The most important occasion was in October to pray for a prosperous year ahead. He was carried here from the Forbidden City a few miles away in his palanquin followed by his entire retinue. A curfew was enforced with everyone indoors and the shutters closed. The route through the various approach pavilions is orientated north south with three gates in each wall. The biggest and the central gate is for the Emperor and his palanquin bearers only. Royal family use the left gate and ministers use the right. Typically there is a flight of stairs to approach the gate, but the Emperor’s route does not have steps but an ornately carved slab of marble up which the bearers walk. One such slab in the Forbidden City weighs 250 tons and was slid through the streets on a path of ice.

DSC0000196.jpgIn the surrounding park a small traveling circus is touting for custom. Put on by one family behind a wall of canvas, there is juggling, a mangey wolf, one nervous monkey and one reluctant monkey, one bendy lady who bends over backwards and puts her head between her knees. It is a continuous show, performed with sullen indifference.

DSC0000180.jpgAfter an unusually vigorous scrum/queue I successfully buy two rice boxes for lunch from a little window. Disposable chopsticks, each box 1 Y. Eat them in the street, Ron gulps his down to fast and coughs and splutters before spitting out the offending rice. Up pops a petty official with a red armband gesticulating and speaking very excitedly. Our complete bafflement at this strange turn of events does not help to calm him down. A policeman comes along with a book of tickets, several bystanders add to the rising confusion. We back off through the crowd and down the nearest subway. Discover later that spitting is an offense with an on the spot fine. But each street corner has a spittoon, sometimes as large as a butlers sink and awash with phlegm.

Head off for the international post office in the afternoon. A small place bustling with tatty chinese. Post birthday cards and a few post cards. Buy some aerograms. Have to use a pot of glue for the smaller denomination steps and also to seal the envelopes.
 Meet some people in a restaurant and we retire to one of the Beijing Hotel coffee lounges after. Feel lousy with a cold coming on. Cycle back home. It’s rather chilly.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:29 Archived in China

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