Kyla and Nick Around the World travel blog

Outside the Forbidden City from the North. Photo actually taken a few...

Inside the Forbidden City. Pant colour now the correct colour for that...

Emperor's Throne in the Palace of Heavenly Purity

Chances are this door will be repainted in time for the Olympics

How could you possibly want to muck around when these signs are...

Another reason not to muck around

I wonder if there is any of that gold paint left for...

Tiered courtyard leading into the inner city

Two guards, a tourist and one very large gate of manifest virtue

The first of three gated squares into the City.I would be happy...

Mao overlooking all of China

Chaoyang Theater - where we saw an unbelievable acrobatics performance

In the midst of hopping to the top platform - it did...

Nick later tried this in Dick and Diane's backyard (not really but...

And to think I complained about "doubling" my sister on my bike...

January 7th, 2008

We're having a great time in Beijing, a huge, sprawling, exciting, and hazy city. We've been to the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Dirt Market (not actually selling dirt), and an acrobat show, and we've stayed in the Grand Beijing Hotel for a night thanks to our kind neighbors back in Central Park, Ottawa. Thanks guys! It was great!

We've also been having a wonderful time with Dick and Diane, friends of Kyla's mother and step-father, who live in Beijing. Tomorrow we visit the Great Wall, and after that we take a bicycle tour of old neighborhoods.

Two different ballets in Beijing - Nick writing

We saw two different, yet equally amazing "ballets" in Beijing. One was the incredible acrobatics show we attended, with performers jumping, leaping, spinning, throwing things, contorting their bodies, lifting each other on ladders, and finally balancing twelve people on a moving bicycle. The acrobats put on two shows a night - we went to the matinee, which cost a little less, but was still fantastic. We even got to eat popcorn!

The other ballet was the one we saw every day, driving with Zhang. Beijing drivers were involved continuously in one huge ballet: darting, weaving, changing lanes, changing speeds, avoiding stalled trucks, all without a honk, rude gesture, or signal. What was amazing was that it all worked. People seemed to have a sixth sense about them, knowing instinctively when the person in front of them would veer across four lanes to the exit, and react seemlessly.

It was this incredible dance, involving millions of cars a day. Beijing is in the middle of a huge building boom, and new expressways are cropping up all over the place, quickly to be filled with new foreign-made cars.

Zhang was fantastic at the ballet. Never did we feel the least bit worried about the traffic around us, no matter what was going on. This wasn't the case, however, when we took a few taxis back to Dick and Diane's. While they were obviously great taxi drivers (evidenced by the fact that they were a) still alive, and b) still driving their taxis), they didn't inspire the same level of confidence as they crossed five lanes of traffic to exit the highway, or backed up down the on-ramp because they didn't know where they were going.

My only worry is that the huge influx of foreign tourists won't catch the rhythm of the ballet when they arrive for the Olympics, and the cops will be busy prying the flattened bodies of Italians off of hundreds of bumpers for months afterwards.

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