Sunday, April 15, 2007
We visited the requisite Tian'an Men Square and Temple of Heaven complex, but didn't have the energy to enter the gates of the vast Forbidden City... we ended up just walking around and absorbing the street culture surrounding Beijing's most famous tourist spot.
Mao looked sternly across Tian'an Men Square as throngs of tourists and hawkers milled about underneath. The "gadget or toy" of the week was this pair of magnetic "stones" that made this clattering buzzing noise as they were tossed into the air. We were obvious targets for each of these hawkers and each one came up to us throwing them up in the air and trying to get us to buy them, or picture postcards of Tian'an Men Square. What we didn't get was that- HELLO- we've been hanging out here for like an hour! If we haven't already bought one by now, we probably WON'T buy one!!!! Stop bugging us!!!!
And Paul's frustration was that everyone was selling the SAME EXACT THING. The obvious way to make money (well, to us, I suppose) would be to sell something DIFFERENT that no one else was selling... no?!? There would be these little gift shop kiosks scattered all over the place, and they always had the same exact layout, same tacky souvenirs, etc. We figure it was all a conspiracy by the government or something- if someone went out and God forbid, sell something different, they might get shot. Speaking of, stern uniformed soldiers marched in formation as the police maintained their presence by randomly driving around and scattering people out of their way.