Sonntag, 4. Dezember 2011

4 Peking. The center


The center of Beijing mainly includes the Tian'anmen Square , the largest square in the world, the Forbidden City, former residence of the emperor, government buildings, museums, barracks as well as many modern buildings. Not to mention the shady Hutong area. In the second photo above the entrance to the Forbidden City can be seen. Prior to that one can see motorbikes of the police, who discuss.
The Tian'anmen Square is a sensitive place. The state is particularly present and shows this by the presence of police and military personnel. They demonstrate a high level of organization and discipline in immaculate uniforms and aren´t dominant at all to the visitors. Even here, I encountered few or no foreigners. In the photos it's easy to see it. To get to the place, you must pass an inspection point. Bags or backpacks will be inspected. Although hanging one over my shoulder, I was once waved through immediately. Now in the square, which had a special atmosphere to me. It can happen to a foreigner quickly that he is addressed by the tea house mafia, which I´ll describe in another post.

In one photograph a class consisting only of girls can be seen. Possibly they are from a private school. They have the same caps and shoulder bags. These uniforms can be seen often. Determined not to get lost among many people as a group. Remarkably, I found in Beijing that the classes behaved disciplined. Never I was confronted by a rude behavior towards adults. So it was no surprise to see that young people offer in principle in the public transport means old people their seats.
On the Tian'anmen Square regular soldiers patrol in pairs in lockstep up and down. This seemed to me rather an increased security and not a limitation of my freedom, because it remained more in the background. A photograph shows a soldier smiling at another. That lets him appear sympathetic.
In the middle of the square are placed huge screens where colored clips about the country appear or  views are seen from other Chinese megacities.

The Qianmen St is the southern extension of the Tian'anmen Square. It is an old shopping street in Beijing, which has been completely modernized. In earlier times, the Emperor came with his entourage from the Forbidden City along here to achieve the temple of heaven further southwards, where he regularly prayed for sending rain.
Since I often walk out on the city, I discovered this wretched dwelling. As I walked past just watched an old woman out of the door. I have never again encountered such bad living state in Beijing.otherwise not encountered again in Beijing. I was told that the woman would like to die in her house and therefore no longer wants to move. The photo also shows the speed with which this country has been modernized, because I assume that large areas of Beijing have used to look so similar in earlier times.
At many shops and small restaurants in the central shopping street, signs are attached talking about the history and tradition of the house. One is still in my memory:
One night two men reached in the Qianmen St a small restaurant and were glad that they could satisfy their hunger with a warm soup. When came the time to pay it, it was very embarrassing to them that they had not their wallets. However, the landlord was not a petty man and trusted that they would bring him the money the next day.
One day later one of the two men appeared to him handing over the money. The host asked the man, who had been his companion. The man looked at him calmly and said: "It was the Emperor." Later the Emperor came still many times over for a hot soup into the small restaurant.
Everyone can quickly discover viewing the photos that the favorite color of Chinese is red. Red lanterns show already at a distance, where a restaurant can be found.

Beijing has several large railway stations, one for the fast trains to Shanghai (city by the sea) in 1300 km distance. This route was opened in summer 2011. The train is able to reach a speed of 420 km / h and is thus the fastest passenger train in the world. The locomotive is a Chinese self-developed product. However, the train runs for economic reasons "only" at 350 km / h. A ride costs around 45-65 €, depending on the class. Recently it has been announced that China has developed and tested a train  reaching even 500 km / h.
Outside the station there were bustling activities. Unfortunately I could not see the station from inside. Security is very important at such a density of people. In front of  the entrance stood a pretty policewoman. Without moving in her dark blue uniform. On the head a kind of baseball cap.
And in his hands across his chest - a machine gun. No Kalashnikov.
I could see those policemen on large sites, also equipped with machine guns. But they remained in the background. I felt more secure within such crowd that we are not used as Europeans.
The passengers must put their luggage when entering the station on a device for checking, the same as in the airportcan. The same thing happens in any metro station.
I think, Beijing is a very safe city. I was walking alone at night in the dark through the streets. No problem, really. This I would never do in Napoli/South-Italy or its its suburbs, which I did once. A day later the Italians were very angry with me because of my levity.

The right photo was made near the station. When I came down the stairs of the pedestrian bridge, I looked right down seeing the first beggar in Beijing. They sat or lay in the shadow of the building. There are beggars in Beijing, but  only rarely. Usually they are located at points where many people walk past, such as pedestrian underpasses or near the Forbidden City. This can also occur in the subway, but as well rare. Once an older man led a younger, seemingly mentally disabled people through the train. Unfortunately I had to witness, even extreme, possibly organized events, where the beggars showed severe burns injuries and loss of limbs.
However, begging cannot be regarded as a problem in Beijing, in contrast to Berlin, where it increases every year more and more, especially in the transport means like S-and U-Bahn. I never had seen a clearly hungry or "abandoned" person in Beijing's streets.

Before I came to Beijing, I had the idea of ​​massive traffic jams, highly polluted air, which makes countless people wear masks. Pictures and information from our German press, or by people who knew or know it exactly, although they have never been in this mega-city. There is congestion in the inner city, especially in the early morning hours, late afternoon or after thunderstorms during rush hour, what I experienced once. Just like in every other major city of the world.
The traffic is flowing normally in Beijing, which clearly show many of my photos.
Graffiti does not exist. Discarded chewing gums or cigarette butts not seen.
In my apartment, you could drink from the water pipe without any problems. It was tasteless. This  situation had been different before the 2008 Olympic games.

I was jogging regularly at evening despite the heat about 10 km, without feeling a scratchy throat or getting a cough. That was my subjective experience.
In further posts I will show the Beijing haze. Probably a mixture of moist, warm air and coal particles of the power plants, is my guess. After raining the air was crystal clear in any case.
Once I'd get lucky and was able to photograph a young woman with a mouth mask. I also met from time to time women who had covered their face literally. It may be that they wanted to protect themselves because of the high density of people from transmittable diseases.

Left, right in the center, appears a small sports field with youths playing there. One the right side there is a typical ring-speed road.
If you walk towards the center, reaching eventually the innermost and underpasses the first-ring highways, begins from there the real old Beijing, with its beautiful shady tree lined avenues.
Many small businesses, retailers and restaurants line the streets and invite you to visit. It's more quiet, even cozy. Large and small parks interrupt the whole thing. The electrical leads are attached as a tangle on the poles, like in the U.S.
In Beijing, there are many public toilets. They are in good conditions and cleaned by an attendant. They are all free to use. Tipping is not common, as well as in restaurants or at the hairdresser's in my neighborhood. I payed instead of 1,50 € 2 € for his good work. I hope he had not misunderstood it.

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