I flew back into Sydney from Beijing Saturday morning (yes, my arms are tired), and I have to say that the best thing about being back is being able to see the sky. In my three weeks in China I probably saw blue sky twice, and both of those times were through a haze of smog. Here’s a picture of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall taken on a lovely smoggy day.
If you didn’t know better, you’d think it was romantic mist, right? Hahaha, I laugh in your general direction. In general though, the Great Wall lives up to its name. I didn’t know until recently (thanks to an exhibition at the Sydney Powerhouse Museum) that the Wall is broken into lots of different sections and I only went out to one, Mutianyu, which is about 70km outside of Beijing. This map, courtesty of Maximilian Dorrbecker, shows the complexity of the wall.
There are some things that I will miss about being in China, including the people (generally lovely), the food (delicious) and especially the Chinise translations into English of things. This is generally called Chinglish and there are both books and blogs dedicated to having a bit of a chuckle at some of these poor efforts.
My contribution comes from the ticket sign in the front of the zoo we visited just outside of Xi’an. We got plenty of mileage out of this one – It kept us entertained for about three days.
We were at the zoo because we’d really wanted to visit an rare animal breeding centre, also in the area, but due to a mix-up with a translator and our driver, we ended up getting taken to this place. The conditions the animals were kept in were pretty abysmal and quite upsetting. Here is a traumatised monkey.
I’ve been told that these conditions are similar to those that existed in Taronga around thirty years ago. It seems respect for animal life is one area where a lot of Chinese still have some way to go. On the way to Beijing airport on my way out of the city, there were a couple of teenage boys walking along the street going car to car with turtles that they were trying to sell to people.
I’ve got a few similar pictures and a short video similar to this one. Even though what I was seeing was distressing, I felt compelled to take them. If anyone knows any animal protection agencies or other groups that may find them useful, please let me know.
So there’s a couple of highs and lows of my trip to China. I started this post wanting to give a brief summary of what I did and experienced, but I’m not sure if that’s possible – it’s amazing the amount of things you can do in three weeks. Maybe I’ll try doing it in bulletpoints for next time.