Beijing, China: Amazon.com rating

35-china_lion
February 17th, 2007
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My brother & I decided to go to China for Lunar New Year. Because Lunar New Year is also known as Chinese New Year. That’s a perk to living in Korea: experiencing phenomena like Chinese New Year in their native environments. I’m going to court irony here and rate Communist China using an Amazon.com review style.


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29 of 25 socialist-empathizers found the following review helpful:

China during Lunar New Year Blows… my mind!!!

Pros:

  • connecting with a sense of history by watching the tiananmen (i’ve had to spell-check that damn word every time) square video on youtube, and then being there and feeling like you’re going to get rolled by a tank. no, it’s cool, really.
  • by the way, don’t read another word on this blog until you watch that video. it’s bone-chilling. trust me. if you just got finished watching it, you’re agreeing with me right now. if you missed the link, click on it now. if the video gets removed, search for tiananmen square massacre. if you’re in china, don’t bother. actually, if you’re in china, i’d be surprised if you are able to read this. the part of your country i saw was very interesting. thank you for allowing me the visit, i hope to return again in the future.
  • back to the list
  • beautiful architecture – in beijing, see forbidden city, summer palace. (this statement is ironic of course, for every tourist who sets foot in beijing for more than 3 hours is going to see a) the great wall, b) tiananmen square, c) the forbidden city, d) the summer palace, and e) all of the above sprinkled with jade factories, silk & tea shops, maybe a circus, and foreigner-friendly restaurants. embrace the machine that is modern tourism!!)
  • peking duck in peking. beijing, whatever. same thing.
  • getting to tell people you’ve been to the great wall of china (did you read it with the subtle irony i intended? does overtly asking the question ruin the subtlety?)
  • nighttime adventures
  • chinese bar singers
  • contemplating mao’s legacy –> this may be unique to commies like me
  • the long hall of the summer palace
  • i liked all the food – the lazy susan tables are my new style
  • our hotel wasn’t luxury (as it professed), but it was great. it can’t be compared with luxury hotels in other parts of the world, but considering we had never been to china and a crappy hotel really would have soured my experience, even more than begging children (… maybe), the DONGFANG hotel rocked my world.
  • FIRE-freaking-WORKS!!! it should not have taken me this long in this list to get here, but boy let me tell you, it was worth the wait! plus, i have to save the best for last, this is the way to end the “pros.”

Cons:

  • um, the tourist machine was necessary, but a drag nonetheless. i would have skipped the jade factory, tea shop, silk shop, etc. etc. shawn & i did our best to put on the rush and get to the good stuff, but there’s just no getting around it. we made the best out of it by engaging workers outside the script of their “we’re gonna sell you stuff in english” training. either that, or we mocked it. tell me this girl doesn’t sound like a robot (i had to be careful filming her, lest my camera be confiscated by the party – you know what party i’m talking about: it’s notthe kind with alcohol, flashing co-eds, and people with lampshades on their heads). while there, along with our new canadian friend kevin, we came up with a codeword to avoid overtly offending any watchful ears. “fuzzy bunnies.” it worked – we were never once arrested.
  • begging children
  • tourist prices vs. local prices. beer went from $5(US) to $1(US) when we caught a cab away from the foreigner-friendly/beggar-ruled strip.
  • begging children’s parents who encourage them to beg
  • the actuality of the great wall can be disappointing in places, so it depends on where you go. our guide told us that in the desert, it’s been weathered down to nubs that you can step over. didn’t sound like the magnificent “only man-made structure that can be seen from space” legend that we’ve all read or heard about. the part we saw? okay, it actually belongs on the pros side. i loved it. it was amazing. i couldn’t get enough of it. i could have walked for miles along it – if it hadn’t ended. i reached the top. the top of the great wall. pause for picture.
  • back to the countdown, picking back up on cons: the problem of the commons. china’s own popularity among the best-known tourist attractions can really kill the mood. when you’re there among 2,000 other gawking, photo snapping travelers who all speak 100 different languages, peace, serenity, and perspective are hard-fought luxuries, if you come by them at all. that said, shawn & i managed to go off script to have some fun. cases in point:
    1. climbing outside of the turrets on the great wall: unsafe, and loads of fun.
    2. finding uncommon photo ops
    3. memorializing random tourists’ vacations

     

  • did i mention beggars? they were really a downer. we couldn’t even take pictures, because then our cameras would have been stolen and you would not have been able to see photo proof of all these snarky stories i’ve got.

bottom line: china is worth the trip, no matter what part of the world you’re coming from. weighing out the pros and cons, the pros easily trump. even the cons make for good stories later, so cumulatively they were unable to ruin the experience or make a dent on the crucial value-for-your-dollar ratio. spend the money. get to china. watch out for the fuzzy bunnies. 再見, comrade.

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