Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Forbidden No More

The Forbidden City was the first place on my agenda. It's great. Two of the most known and beautiful buildings were off limits and covered in scaffolding while under renovation, and that was a bit of a bummer. But it was huge and fascinating and now my feet hurt. I went with a guy I met here at the hostel. And we got dropped off by the taxi at the back end of the palace and we didn't realize that so we went to the park across the street by accident. And it was a very fortuitous mistake. The park was crowded with Beijingers doing all the crazy Beijinger things they tai chi en masse, and ballroom dance, and sing in great big groups, and play a sort of hackysack with a badmitten sortof hackysack, and write in water on the pavement. We ended up spending two hour there just watching the people. So we eventually realized that it wasn't the right place and climbed to the top of "Coal Hill" to get our bearings and realized our error. And by entering by the North Entrance we ended up doing it backwards. I don't recommend it. And the audio guide wasn't all that helpful, but very amusing. I especially liked the part about the symbols on a certain building; cranes, turtles, lions and crap. I'm pretty sure she was supposed to say carp, but who knows? When they tell you there is a Starbucks in the Forbidden City don't believe them. There are a couple of whole-in-the-wall places where you can buy a soda and some chips. But after 3 hours I was ready for some hot chocolate. And to get to the Starbucks you have to leave the Forbidden City and go into this tacky courtyard and have people try and sell you postcards and Forbidden City hats, etc. We never did find the Starbucks. Instead Pete and I walked down to the mall and found a noodle place to eat at. Turns out it was a Japanese Noodle place. I didn't really come all the way to China to eat Japanese food. Afterwards I came back alone to make some arrangements for the following days, including trying to get to see some Beijing Opera that night. Which I lucked out on, as you are supposed to give them more notice than an hour (more like 6 hours). It was only a little over an hour long, and they did two seperate pieces. It was good, but very odd. The acting and singing is very stylized and the costumes and make-up are overly extreme. But there are no props and no scenery. And it's not really opera. Think more like musical comedy with acrobatics. They did have subtitle screens and their spelling and syntax was atrocious and hysterical. But good fun. I think that enough for the first day, don't you?


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