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China Beijing Tiananmen Square Qianmen

19 April 2018

Fun running race but I cant join in

For my last evening in Beijing I thought I would return to Tiananmen square. Everyone goes there, I went there in 2011, you can line up to see embalmed Chairman Mao if you want. Tonight it was closed off.

You could still get near it to take photos, but not into the actual square. Even getting into the road alongside it required airport style security, and all locals have to scan their ID to enter. They know exactly who is in there at all times.
I was actually a bit worried when I got to the front of the line and realised they were doing ID checks, you are supposed to carry your passport, I never do, heres where I get arrested I thought. Instead they just waved me straight through. It seems at Tiananmen square they are only concerned about locals. Also I dont look like a radical student.

Afterwards I explored the now much larger shopping and dining district directly behind the main square, called Qianmen. This was under construction when I was last here, its now completed and huge, and great. Its all fake new made to look old, but its a very nice place to be, I recommend it.
I wandered away from here slightly to find my dinner in a neighbourhood hutong. The menu here as you will see, is all the standards. If you want to know what real Chinese food is, study this menu, this is what people eat every night in Beijing unless they go to a noodle place, anyway I digress.

I walked into this place and sat down and ordered from the pictures on the lit up wall. My meal came, I ate it, I go to pay. The guy isnt there, but theres a huge wad of cash on the counter under a rock. He notices me, comes out of the kitchen, I pay my $3, he gives me change from the wad of cash, puts the rock back on top, and goes back into the kitchen. I found this amazing. It was a couple of inches of cash, probably the entire days takings.

China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - On my way to Tiananmen square I passed the Crowne Plaza hotel, normally this big sign has the menu for the night on it, right now me and lots of inter

On my way to Tiananmen square I passed the Crowne Plaza hotel, normally this big sign has the menu for the night on it, right now me and lots of interested local delivery drivers are watching somebody update a spreadsheet. Accountants everywhere are wishing they could do similar, perhaps its time for SPREADSHEET STADIUM!


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - Now I am in London. This place is 8 levels high.

Now I am in London. This place is 8 levels high.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - I remembered this garden from last time I was here. Still here, still great. This photo was taken right at dusk, hence the funky lighting.

I remembered this garden from last time I was here. Still here, still great. This photo was taken right at dusk, hence the funky lighting.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - Here is the security line to enter the square. There was security everywhere.

Here is the security line to enter the square. There was security everywhere.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - On my way under the road I saw the changing of the guard. I wasnt sure if I could take a photo but locals were following along taking video. Blurry vi

On my way under the road I saw the changing of the guard. I wasnt sure if I could take a photo but locals were following along taking video. Blurry vision photo, dont bother loading the large version.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - And this is as close as I can get to the square today. Why was it closed? I cant be sure, but the army was having a night time sports day inside, a ru

And this is as close as I can get to the square today. Why was it closed? I cant be sure, but the army was having a night time sports day inside, a running race in full uniform. Some soldiers were cheering others on, the runners really seemed to be trying hard.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - More square. I couldnt tell who won the race, but they seemed very happy! None of this translated into photos at all. I wanted to run a lap though!

More square. I couldnt tell who won the race, but they seemed very happy! None of this translated into photos at all. I wanted to run a lap though!


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - The entrance to Qianmen shopping street.

The entrance to Qianmen shopping street.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - The area now extends to various side streets, last time I was here these were all closed for refurbishment.

The area now extends to various side streets, last time I was here these were all closed for refurbishment.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - I passed an art auction. I get the feeling it was all staged to lure tourists. The auction was being conducted in English.

I passed an art auction. I get the feeling it was all staged to lure tourists. The auction was being conducted in English.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - A bit more of the main shopping street here.

A bit more of the main shopping street here.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - This area has some western stores now (H&M, Zara), but the main places are still like this, very Chinese, mostly junk. Also theres lots of cafes, rest

This area has some western stores now (H&M, Zara), but the main places are still like this, very Chinese, mostly junk. Also theres lots of cafes, restaurants, bubble tea, bakeries. So many bakeries.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - I dont remember this street from last time, it runs off the side of the main one for many miles. I followed it all the way into a hutong (old neighbou

I dont remember this street from last time, it runs off the side of the main one for many miles. I followed it all the way into a hutong (old neighbourhood).


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - The further you went the older looking the new buildings became.

The further you went the older looking the new buildings became.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - I selected a restaurant, it was one of about 5 similar places adjacent to each other where a number of laneways met. Ordering was easy, not only are t

I selected a restaurant, it was one of about 5 similar places adjacent to each other where a number of laneways met. Ordering was easy, not only are their pictures, but theres English. I was surprised there was English.


China-Beijing-Tiananmen Square-Qianmen - I chose what I thought was the healthiest thing, scrambled eggs with leeks and chilli. Theres also a bit of black fungus. I added a lot of chilli and

I chose what I thought was the healthiest thing, scrambled eggs with leeks and chilli. Theres also a bit of black fungus. I added a lot of chilli and black vinegar, it was delicious.


Tomorrow I go to Zhengzhou, where I have not been before. Beijing was excellent, I used all the time on all my days here. I could easily fill another week. Every day I ran out of time, and had no time at all to relax, just the way I like it!

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