It’s been ages since I last posted something. There are various reasons for this… mostly the same as those I laid down in my last (as-yet unposted) entry — although now I’ve got Internet access I’ve not got USB access, which means the stuff I’ve got queued up on my laptop is staying queued up for a little longer.
I’m staying at a hotel in the Dongzhimen area of Beijing, which is about 13 minutes away from the Qianmen subway station. Qianmen is one of the gates (men == 门? that was part of the old Beijing city… it is also one of the three (Qianmen, Tiananmen East and Tiananmen West) subway stations that provide access to Tiananmen Square. I spend most of my time in Tiananmen Square, McDonald’s, on the subway or at the Taj Pavillion Indian restaurant by the China International Trade Centre at the Guomao subway station. I’m pretty much sat waiting to sort a flight out to Bangkok in Thailand now — tomorrow I will head to Tiananmen Square again but the following day I will take a tour bus to the Simatai section of the Great Wall. This involves at least a two-hour each-way bus journey, followed by four hours of hiking along the wall, before heading back.
Last year I visited the Badaling section of the Wall, which is where most tourists head to. At that time I walked all the way to “The End” of the Wall, where I climbed over and walked around to view the “real” Wall which has gone unrestored. I particuarly wanted to visit Simatai but never had the chance.
At Tiananmen Square I’m friendly with quite a few people now… these include the hawkers (well, one or two), the photographers and the pay-per-photo photographers. Just yesterday I was invited to a photography competition where a couple of the guys I know had submitted their photos. One of them was a runner-up and won 100RMB. Some of the photos were absolutely stunning, ranging between landscapes, street photography, architecture and abstract. Had I known a little earlier what was going on I could probably have submitted one or two of my photos… they’re probably not as good as the winners but I believe that some of my best photos were likely on a par with the runners-up.
Yesterday I met about six or seven art students on the Square who were sketching various different people and poses. These guys seemed fairly interesting so I took a few photos before ending up as their model. This was pretty amusing as after a few minutes we had a little crowd… and once you have a little crowd people start to take notice, so this grew pretty quickly ;)
This morning I got up a bit late but visited the Lama Temple one stop further north from Dongzhimen where I tried to take some photos of the rooftops but it unfortunately looks like I failed miserably. The weather today was fairly different — the sky was clear (no smog) and the sun seemed particularly strong, casting some stunning shadows on the Square. I got one or two snapshots of people standing under the shadow cast by the great big floodlights — fairly amusing but nothing spectacular.
Well, that’s the past couple of days and I can’t really remember much further back than that. I hope everybody is doing well and that the weather is a little cooler where you are ;)