1.5 billion people in China and the heart that pumps the blood to this huge country is Beijing. My new young Chinese friend – Lockwood, who I met on the train from Xi’An to Beijing – taught me this. He taught me many other things too about politics, religion, dating, censorship, the economy, technology, generational differences and people. Sounds like a lot but it was a 4.5 hour bullet train. There was only a handful of times when he robotically uttered the words “language support” in a Siri like fashion before picking up his phone and typing into his translation app the Chinese words for things like “reform” and “severity”.
He taught me about China’s version of “WhatsApp” called WeChat which is used for communication, used for paying for anything and everything and which is used for QR scanning everything in this country to obtain information. It is not an “app” though, it is an “A P P” according to the Chinese. Took me forever to figure that one out. He also explained that the pollution is so bad here that the Chinese wear masks to cover their faces. Boy do I love meeting the locals in the countries I go to. It’s like a light bulb turning on.
After getting to the Jinjiang Inn, I began my site seeing tour of the capital at night. Wangfujing area where the hotels and residents are was the quietest area of China I’ve seen to date. Of course, if you actually go to the famous Wangfujing shopping street that’s a different story. Same for what is referred to by tourists guides as “Snack Street” smack dab in the middle of Wangfujing which was inundated with tourists eating and shopping. This is the place where tourists go to eat scorpions, silk worms and other bugs in China – it’s like Fear Factor’s ideal shooting location. If you want to feel cool because you ate a scorpion and got it on camera, go here but don’t for a minute think that it is something authentic to China. The Chinese don’t eat these things. Snack street is just there to swindle westerners out of their money and a laugh behind your back (or in front of it given we don’t understand what they are saying). For me….well….we all have our limits and I draw the line at scorpions. I’m more of a meat and potatoes kind of gal I guess. As such, I photographed other braver (or dumber) souls dining on scorpions. 😉
That’s all for now from the bleeding heart of China – Beijing.