Monday, October 14, 2013

Walking tours of Beijing and beyond

Above, a 1-minute video of the rickshaw tours in Beijing's popular Houhai area.
The Forbidden City, where the emperor and family lived until 1911.
We spent the spring visiting some of our favorite places and doing some walking tours of Beijing. Cindy got around more than I did.

Beijing is a magnet for Chinese tourists who come to see attractions such as the Forbidden City, the Great Hall of the People and Mao's tomb (his body is preserved and can be seen in Tiananmen Square, no pictures allowed).

The center of the city has some extensive lakes and parks. You can also see the old hutong (alleyways) neighborhoods with traditional courtyard houses made of gray brick.

Many of these traditional neighborhoods were bulldozed for freeways and subways, so those that remain attract Chinese tourists (photo at left) who want to see how things used to be.

As in any tourist place anywhere in the world, vendors offer all kinds of kitschy stuff aimed at separating people from their cash. All kinds of food too.

Fleets of rickshaws await the opportune moment when a bus unloads dozens of tourists in pursuit of what is sold as an that authentic Beijing experience.

This is the huge antiques and crafts market known as the Dirt Market.
 The Dirt Market is a great place to go if you don't want to feel lonely. There are mobs of people. You can find all kinds of stuff to bring home and put in your closet or attic. Or give to your friends so they can put it in their closet or attic. Actually, they have a lot of nice stuff. We just didn't buy any of it.

Buying beads in the Dirt Market.
You can find stuff like a bust of Mao or a a complete set of calligraphy brushes. What I was looking for was some post cards with poster art from the cultural revolution. Propaganda stuff. A lot of the artwork is very inspiring, to be honest.

Spiced donkey meat is considered a delicacy. Very good, actually.
Friends visit

In July we had a visit from our friends Mark and Julie Tatge. Julie worked with me at Business First of Columbus. Mark, her husband, worked for the Plain Dealer's Columbus bureau.

Mark gave a short course at Tsinghua on investigative journalism techniques for business journalism. And Cindy and I took them on some trips around Beijing.

Mark and Julie Tatge in Tiananmen Square.
 One of the better tours offered by the China Culture Center is a trip to the Great Wall at Mutianyu and the Ming Tombs.

At the Ming Tombs.
Great Wall at Mutianyu
Mark and Julie Tatge with Cindy, right.

My spring 2013 multimedia class. 9 countries represented here

 I will miss the students and teaching colleagues at Tsinghua University. The students in my spring multimedia class were pretty great. They did impressive projects on such things as the gray market in baby formula from New Zealand and the impact of avian flu on the chicken industry, among others. Let's see, in this photo we have Lebanon, Russia, Korea, Italy, Tanzania, Sweden, Indonesia, China and Republic of Georgia.

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