Saga Asia | Beijing, an empty China. New Years 2020
I hadn’t thought of visiting China until it became the headquarter of this trip. That’s where my friend lived. As soon as I mentioned that side of the world as a starting destination, many people questioned this “decision”. So much and so marked aversion to a place for which I began to feel very curious about the photos and anecdotes that I received through WeChat. It was no longer wanting to go because that’s where we started the trip, I also wanted to discover THE CAPITAL. And of course, the Chinese Wall.
After the reunion with my friend, who equipped me with a mask and a coat as soon as I arrived, and after waking up in a city that seemed desolate, despite the fact that it houses more than 20 million people; after a long update on each other’s lives and deciding to do the first tourist outing, what happened to me, shouldn’t happen to an adult.
I did not have local money (they practically only manage electronic money in their apps), nor internet (the internet is very limited, download VPN apps BEFORE entering China). On the way to the Summer Palace, my friend entered the subway, turned around, and yelled “NOOO!” As the doors closed in my face, and I smiled at her. From the platform I indicated with gestures that I would go on the next subway and met her on the next stop, she was trying to communicate something else to me. Ah. I am 32 years old.
We met at the next stop and luckily she just waited there, because what she was trying to tell me is that she was going to go back to where I was left, alone. Because I seemed like a defenseless girl who was not going to be able to solve that situation. Anyway. Everything was laughter in a completely silent wagon where absolutely everyone was immersed in their very smart phones (because you need one of those to live there) while we laughed in our own Latin ways.
We went to a frozen Summer Palace, as it was winter. And everything was white, and the trees looked like those drawings not finished because of the artist’s laziness to draw their leaves. The huge lake was frozen and the people who were there (which was not many compared to all the imaginary that I had made about the large Chinese population), skated in our shoes or on sleds designed for children. Where were the rest of the Pekingese? They had all flown, barely, out of Beijing, to celebrate the Chinese New Year in their hometowns. I said “barely” because we were days away from everything being shut down by the famous CoVid-19. BTW, it was the first time I skated on water 🙂
After this great Palace event, we visited different places, casually. We were saving ourselves for the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City and other places that we were supposed to visit when we returned from our month of travel. So, little I can say about the 798 art zone, a military factory that, after its gentrification, became a home for galleries, cafes and design spaces. I can say it was empty. Yes. At the risk of sounding repetitive, when we went it was empty and almost everything was closed. It is the place where I would dedicate a day for the offer that I could see in each place, from the outside, of course.
THE, LIKE, CENTER WHERE EVERYTHING HAPPENS
Finally, my last experience in Beijing was in the Dashilar district, which is like downtown. It had commercial establishments in a row, “street” food establishments where they sold the most delicious food I ate in Beijing. The “duck wrap” and the chestnuts, the rice and bean “popsicles”, some egg things that were sweet and I don’t remember what they are called. If you walk through its streets you will find small places with incredible relics. You find hidden businesses, hidden people with businesses, narrow streets that are part of the homes that expand around this sector. They seem like a lot of mixed up things, but there is an order. And there is a huge bookstore, in a “modern” building. And that is Beijing. Tradition with high technology that controls the lives of its inhabitants and visitors.
And now it seems that in my narration I have skipped around the capital. The truth is that afterwards, everything was closed. The virus has already gotten serious and the Forbidden City, once again, was forbidden. We peeked from the outside.
I did get to the Great Wall. But that’s for another entry. When I went to Gubei …