In The Forbidden City, more colourful ceilings. By the way, that's gold, not yellow.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
After a hard half-day's work at the Forbidden City, hosts Ms Liang and Mr Tiger take us to this halal restaurant for a tasty Szechuan lunch. Located in a scenic part of old Beijing (called 'hutong'), it has a charming green exterior (a clue that the eatery is halal). Cost 400 yuan for four of us. Pricey!
PS: That's sweet and sour fish you are drooling over!
Ahhh...at last, the famous Tian'anmen Square - one of the biggest city centre squares in the world. It's named after Tian'anmen - The Gate of Heavenly Peace - the first gate into the Forbidden Palace, built in the early 1400s (seen in Pic #2).
The Square is located to the immediate south of The Forbidden Palace and is bordered by the Great Hall of the People (western side - Pic #1 - Parliament), the Revolutionary & Historical Museum (eastern side - Pic #3 - poor museum, Communist Party mouthpiece), and the Mao's Tomb (where his pickled body lies like a surreal wax model).
It's indeed a huge place (880 metres north-south, 500 metres east-west: can fit 60 soccer fields) with couples and families strolling by peacefully and where people fly huge kites. In stark contrast to its sometimes violent history.
The Chinese are taking the Olympics 2008 thingy very seriously. All constructions must be completed in time, otherwise work must be stopped and cleaned up. So developers are going at extra speed trying to complete their buildings. Otherwise the stop-work order is going to delay their projects by up to a year. You can witness this construction frenzy the moment you arrive at the airport - I counted more than 100 constrcution cranes in the land opposite the runway!
pic: Olympics countdown at the Communist Museum, Tian'anmen.
The Great Hall of the People, Tian'anmen Sq. Built 1959 and has a hall which can fit 10,000 people comfortably.
For some reason, the Chinese members of parliament seem to like black European marques, mainly Audis and Volkswagens. Plus the odd Hyundais. When the black cars are neatly parked in front of the building, then the Assembly is in session.
This is the seat of power of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and a place of terror for the West during the Cold War, a powerful symbol of orthodox communism.
This is the international face of China's might, where during the Cold War (and until recently), the Chinese leadership would sit and watch the much-feared People's Liberation Army on parade below, complete with tanks and missiles, plus other deadly military hardware.
Nowadays for a small fee, one can climb up there and pretend to be Mao Ze-Dong waving to his mighty army below. There's a sign which forbids photography, but people are snapping pics merrily, oblivious to the security folks who just watch. There's even a kiosk selling films and batteries, so there you go! Capitalism rulez....
The view from our room in the apartment at the Malaysian Embassy complex, and straight into the high-security Israeli Embassy compound! Due to some unexplainable reason, the Israelis are our next door neighbour in Beijing :-).
The story goes that our govt bought the land to build the embassy complex and soon after the Israelis bought the adjacent piece of land. To make things more interesting, the Americans then bought a huge piece of land across the road from ours and have began construction of their embassy complex (to be ready for Olympics 2008, I bet). So we will end up sandwiched between two high-security, sensitive properties. :-)
The Israelis and the Malaysians share a common wall, each with security CCTVs. On occasions, their CCTVs were pointed into our compound, but our folks politely told them to piss off. Officially we are not on talking terms, but I'm not too sure if so in private. Well, we have to live as neighbours anyway.
Today, Friday, is shopping day for the missus, so I tag along. We head for the famous Yabao textile bazaar, a favourite haunt for Malaysian tourists, near the US Embassy complex.
And straight to Ayisha's joint. See the slick promo in Pic #3 - ahhhh...a Sister-in-Islam. Any makcik from KL would be tempted.