Friday, July 1, 2011

Around Beijing

This picture l took off the net because it gives you a pretty good idea what the city looks like.  The center is the Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square and going out from there like concentric circles are the main ring roads.  I think they are up to 6 or 7 of these rings now.  The land is flat and with 20 million people and expanding, it's a good thing there is lots of room.  It has a way different feeling than Hong Kong.  It's not so frantic and fast paced even with all the people.  There are some huge buildings, but they are not as high as here and even though it gets very hot, the air is dryer and you don't have the claustrophobic humidity level.  There are no trucks or heavy traffic allowed on the streets during the day time so that makes a huge difference, although there seems to be a inordinate amount of honking horns!  Darryl said the government is only allowing 80,000 car plates a year in an effort to cut back on the traffic.

The city is very beautiful and has trees absolutely every where.  Lots of Weeping Willows.   This is on the way out to airport.  Terminal 3 which was built for the Olympic Games is the biggest in the world.

This picture and the one above are of the cities largest park, which is close by Darryl's school.
A tree made up of flower pots.  It must be beautiful when its in full bloom.
There are still a lot of bikes here and they have bike roads to get around on.  Blaine and Darryl took a couple of bike tours around. There appears to be very few helmets worn, even on the kids riding along!  The worst ones are the electric bikes that make no noise and you don't know they are there.!!  Vivian calls them the silent killers!  You also see small scooters using the bike roads.
This is a typical three wheeled bike.  They load them up with anything and everything!
Badminton players in the park. Badminton is played a lot in Asia.  You see lots of kids just batting the bird back and forth for fun.

I have no idea what this is but it looks like it will be an interesting building when it finished.  
These next couple of pictures are just some street shots.
Even though some of the buildings have quite a few floors, the ones here are often 50 floors and higher.
This street is Lucky Street and only a couple of blocks from Darryl's.  It has different ethnic restaurants.  The Japanese restaurant is in this block.  There was a German bakery that looked good too!
I took this picture because even though there are lights for the cars, there is no lights for pedestrians, so people just go and stand in between the cars and cross against the traffic, when there is an opening.  SCARY!!  Because the streets are so wide you really have to hustle to get across when there is a red light.

This is a bad picture, because l took it from the taxi, but there is one whole street of Embassies with really neat compounds and guards and the whole bit.  Some of the buildings were really beautiful.  This is Canadian Embassy.
This is a typical street in an older part of town.  A lot of grey buildings with red trim in these parts.  There seemed to be less neon lighting on the buildings.  Here everything is lit to the max and the more garish the better.  Most things seemed more toned down in Beijing.
Vivian made us hot pot one night. It's sort of like a fondue with broth instead of oil and you use really thin slices of meat and vegetables and cook them in the broth and then put them in a sesame sauce.  We had lamb and beef, but my favorite was the cabbage!!
We're not very good with the chopsticks!  Because this weekend was the Dragon Boat Festival, we also had a special rice triangle wrapped in a bamboo leaf.  Inside is a glutinous rice and at the bottom third there was some meat.  When you first bit into the rice you could taste the leaf and then what ever flavoring was in the rice and then the meat.  I wouldn't want them everyday but they weren't that bad.  They are call Zongzi. The Dragon Boat Festival is held in remembrance of a minister, who in 295 BC  drowned himself in one of the rivers to protest the decadence of the imperial court.  Local people raced around the lake in boats trying to find him, while beating drums to scare the fish and also throwing glutenous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves into the water to feed the fish. Unfortunately he was never found but the dragon boat races and the Zongzi continues to this day!!
School buses in front of the school.
You see three wheeled carts everywhere.  Most of them are much bigger than this one and some almost look like little cars, but the're bikes!  Some of the loads they carry are massive.  This is in the courtyard of the school Vivian and Darryl teach at.  In the gazebo there are barbecues for the staff to use and behind the open part is an enclosed area with tables and fish ponds and a greenhouse for outdoor get togethers.
This school is the Canadian International School of Beijing.  All the teachers are Canadian and the curriculum is from New Brunswick.  Darryl teaches maths and phs Ed. and Vivian teaches Mandarin.  Because she is a Chinese national she is paid only half of what the Canadian teachers get.  Very strange. In the local school she was in before coming here, she was head of the English department with 15 teachers under her, but that is not taken into consideration.

It is a kindergarten to grade 12 school.  They have very nice facilities.

All teachers are required to live in the apt. block provided by the school.  The school has 80 teachers.  Here the school pays our rent but we can find our own place.  For new teachers coming, having a place to live and people you know around you would be an advantage and easier to adjust. 
Vivian is from a small city (5million) about an hour out of Beijing.  They will be living in Saskatoon when they go back the end of the month.  It will be fun to be near them when we go home.  She said she'd teach me to make dumplings!!
There are so many things to see in Beijing.  If you like history the place is positively full of it!!  Even if you only have a couple of days like we did you can get to see a few of the main things and get the feel of an amazing and ancient city.

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