Sunday, July 11, 2010

Running in Beijing

Andrea, Anna and I went to Bejing, China for vacation and to meet our daughter Tori there. Tori has been studying Mandarin in a study abroad program with her professor and other students from University of North Texas.

We did all the touristy things you are supposed to do in China like see The Great Wall and The Forbidden City, but I also got to run.

The first morning we were there I did not run. But the second morning we were there I ran from the Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel, located in a Hutong, to Tiananmen Square.

Beijing is a polluted place. When I ran I tasted my sweat and it tasted to me like pollution. Maybe it was in my mind but I felt especially dirty there.

My first glimpse of Tiananmen Square was at the halfway point of my run on the second day in Beijing. It is a huge square that thousands of people visit every day. Even at 6 am in the morning the sidewalk in front of the Forbidden City where Chairman Mao's portriat hangs there is a crowd of people taking pictures and waiting for their chance to go in.

As I approached the square the first time I was struck that it looked exactly as I expected. I was also struck by how a leader could be so full of himself to hang such a huge a self-portrait on the Forbidden City. Maybe he didn't have it hung it there but it still seems like a show of a leader's self-indulgence.

I ran to Tiananmen Square at the entrance of the Forbidden City three times and I always made sure I told Mao what a jerk I thought he was. I think he probably knows now. It is amazing to me that a man who did the things he did to kill so many and destroy such cultural heritage could be so loved by the people of China even today. This is confirmed by the fact that so many would stand in line to see his body lying in state thirty years after his death. I stood in line too with thousands of my Chinese friends - more out of morbid fascination as anything else- to see Mao's glowing face.

On two other mornings I ran to the Jingshan Hill Park north of The Forbidden City. There is a hill there built from the dirt removed from the ground to built the 30 meter deep moat around the Forbidden City. From there you can look over the plot of ground where Emperors walked hundreds of years ago. What was impressive to me was how many, mostly old, Chinese people were exercising in the morning in the park. It was a definite cultural experience.

This morning back in Singapore I ran a seven miler through the Botanic Gardens and there were as many, mostly old, people exercising there. It was just easier to breath the air and my sweat tasted normal again.

5 comments:

Adrienne said...

Sweet! Even in the smog, the pics look stunning.

K said...

Living vicariously through your running, Tommy! LOL

I hope you told Mao what a jerk I thought he was too...

K said...

Hi Tommy,
I can't get the message you posted on my blog. If you see your message here, it is in Chinese, I think...

Tommy said...

Yeah Karen. I get comments on my blog often that are in Chinese characters. I do not know what they say and some have linked to less than wholesome sights so I just delete them.

BIOTECH PARADISE said...

coll and pic is like a movie is going on.........







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