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Tiannamen square in 1985

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Wednesday 27th March.
on my bike in Tiananmen Square 1985

on my bike in Tiananmen Square 1985

Rise slowly suffering badly. Sunny day again. Visit Mao’s mausoleum in Tiannamen square, but back off at the sight of the half mile long queue of shuffling blue suited chinese. Make do with a photo. Must have cost a lot of money to build. I wonder how many bowls of rice.
Search in vain for the offenders famous underground restaurant. Beijing has a lot going on underground but I cannot seem to find my way in. Dine on rice and something unidentifiable. Park bike outside Forbidden City and venture in—about 30 Fen.
DSC0000184.jpgA vast walled city, very high walls, painted burnt red. Parks and courtyards and pavilions and houses within. The most important buildings lie on the North South axis. Progressing in a northerly direction you pass along a paved avenue and through several massive stone gates, you reach more and more exclusive quarters until the audience of the Emperor is found in the Temple of Stunning Silence. Grand courtyards and large pavilions, basically they are large halls on massive wooden pillars with a very elaborate roof. The most exclusive courtyards are paved in ornate marble, again the central path is exclusively for the Emperor to pass over, there are never any steps as officially he never walked anywhere. DSC0000186.jpg Towards the back there is a kitsch Chinese garden, overdone grottoes and wiggly rocks. The concubines quarters are not recently restored, and as such are very attractive, the quiet walled alleyways and courtyards perhaps with a solitary pine tree, some bamboo growing in a corner and a functioning well. DSC0000195.jpg The weather worn wood still showing patterns of ancient paint. In one part there is an exhibition of foreign gifts to the nation, from the UK there was a picture plate from Stratford upon Avon!
 The Forbidden City gets 10,000 visitors a day, mostly chinese tourists. I saw one very old lady being escorted through by her son. She tottered on tiny feet. Deborah told me the toes are folded underneath. This city is basically the work of the Ming and Quing dynasties which roughly covers the last 1000 years.
Find a dumpling restaurant (Daioux) and order one portion. However it turns out I ordered one kilogram! I have to send half back. Cost 1Y when money refunded even, 1Y’s worth is rather too much.
 I have a peculiar excematous patch on my abdomen in the midline two inches above my navel.
 In the evening a violent dust storm rages across Beijing. Cycling across Tiannamen square is impossible because of the wind. You just get blown off. The street lights are slung on cables and lurch wildly about making people’s shadows jump over the walls. Sections of lighting go out. Since cars are infrequent and no one else has lights the journey home becomes hazardous. The next morning everything in the dormitory is covered in brown dust.
 Pay bill, pleading starvation and impending train trip to Moscow to pay in Reminbi. 40Y for 4 nights. My padded silk chinese jacket which has so valuably kept me warm, now has a grubby authentic chinese look, the brown dust has permeated everything.

Posted by 1985 trip 13:32 Archived in China

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