Learning Chinese

Line up, look straight
Originally uploaded by Natmandu.

Repeat after me… “Ching gay wor yee-pying shwee”. That is the way you say “Please give me a bottle of water”. Useful if you’re sweating your bits off walking around Tiananmen Square like I was today. Mandarin is becoming slowly less scary the more I’m using it, and the better I get with intonations, the less Chinese people are looking at me like I’ve just put a really hot bit of food in my mouth and I’m just trying to cool it down.

Beijing just got a whole lot better since I moved to the Far East International Youth Hostel, a very pleasant place in a HuTong area south of Tiananmen Square. It’s clean, chilled-out, and the staff are lovely. The place has a bit more atmosphere than the Taiwan Hotel, my first stop, and the canned music there was starting to give me the willies.

Tiananmen Square is famous in the West for pretty much one thing, and it was odd to walk around the place today and see tourists from all over mingling with soldiers in a very relaxed atmosphere. I walked down the road I was fairly sure the student stood in front of the tank, and felt an odd sense of, for the want of a better word, history. The tanks aren’t there now, China has moved on a fair way, but some images are burned into your memory, and standing in the place was an interesting experience.

So it’s Beijing for a few more days, then I’m off down to Shanghai. Still to do, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall… I had to pinch myself today in Tiananmen Square, I couldn’t quite believe I was here!

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