Friday, November 26, 2010

End of Silk Road: A tale of two cities

Just finished procrastinating and decide to finish the final entry for my Silk Road trip. The last stop of the eventful trip ends in Beijing, the capital of China and a sister city to Shanghai. It was my first time in Beijing despite I had always wanted to visit this city when I was working in SH. It was mentioned that Beijing is a cultural, educational, and politics hub; whereas Shanghai focuses on finance, expansion, and trade. As we exited the airport, one can definately feel that the atmosphere was drastically different between the cities. There were huge amount of police all around Beijing yet it gave me uneasy feeling. It felt like I was in minority report where there's surveillance cameras everywhere; ranging from subways, shopping malls, street entrances, and washroom exits. Prices were more expensive in this city and I couldn't find any bootlegged DVDs at all.
With the differences stated, which one do I like more? Well.... granted, there's going to be pickpockets in Shanghai and one has to be careful of their belongings, but I feel more alive and comfortable there, and not scared to haggle or buy endless DVDs :p. Beijing is safer, has much huger buildings (lots of government), and cleaner; however, it gave me an uneasy feeling like I was watched everywhere and the possibility of private police rushing out from nowhere and beat you with baton sticks is no joke. I guess the Chinese government needs to stay that way to control the crowd and political retributions in its capital after what happened in June 4th, 1989.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Next Stop in Silk Road

It's been a busy few weeks with much things needing attention to. However, decided to take a breather and continue my blog. The last stop Lanzhou didn't leave me with much expectations but I was shocked when arriving at TianShui. It features mountains deep in layers of forestry and trees, and it's Maijishan Grottoes was definately my highlight of the trip. It was literally a sculpted mountain from 1500-2000 yrs back. what's amazing was that there were little to no human intervention to it so what you see is what you see years ago. The only things that was built was the 27 story flight of stairs that took 60 yrs to complete. Spanning deep into the clouds, one would imagine how difficult the workers would use to work sculpting the artwork while being suspended from the air.
After Tianshui, we headed towards Xian for the Terracotta warriors tomb, which I find it so so, maybe I've seen too much TV shows about it and expected more? It was nonetheless very grand and an integral part of Chinese history. At this point, many people from the group were sick due to sanitary and diarrhea, but luckily I still had that little immune system built up from my expat so was still eating much of the foods around and about. Despite this, it was around 15 days into the tour and I was beginning to feel tired; however, I also longed to see more since I understand the trip will be ending soon after we go on to the next stop in Beijing.