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September 10-13


 At first what most impresses is the size. As New Yorkers we think of a square as something like Times Square, Union Square--big but manageable. In Tiananmen the word "Square" just doesn’t compute. It’s big like Central Park is big.  

Just across this very large way, the Forbidden City is even bigger. Huge buildings with exquisite detailing dazzle and awe. Built in 14 years from 1407 to 1421—took a million workers. Way cool. 

 These gigantic structures were often used for special purposes only, one building for coronations, one for state dinners, one for the opera, one for just the morning meeting with the minions. Many for just relaxing. Most were for the emperor’s use only. And his family. And his concubines. For the most part they no one was allowed in and the royal family weren’t allowed out either. Hence, Forbidden.  

 Some buildings housed his concubines, some his eunuchs, others the scribes and probably still others the

accountants. The accountants must have been very important to your average Chinese emperor because these buildings were intricate indeed: slathered in gold—real gold--and minutely carved with colorful dragons and phoenixes. 

The smallest were bigger than our 20,000 square foot factory building; the biggest were 10 times that size.

Walking up the steep road to reach the Great Wall there are more than 200 identical vendor stalls selling identical cheep souvenirs, tee shirts, hats, knickknacks, assorted dreck and tchotchkas--all Made in China. From each one a woman hawks "hello mister, hello lady, tee shirts one dolla, look at this, one dolla, umbrella one dolla, two tee shirts one dolla, three shirts one dolla...." All the while shaking the item in your face. I surmised that this was the Great Wall-Mart

Beijing is a huge modern city complete with lots of expensive new cars. Gogan had a new Audi sedan. Lots of good stores and restaurants. For us there is no evidence of poverty or communism.  There is also no evidence of dogs or cats in the street, or birds either. What’s up with that?

The rich have always known how to take care of themselves. Today in Beijing the once-poor are scrambling to catch up.  


 The Great Wall goes beyond big. It’s really big. Stretching for thousands of miles, snaking around the tops of mountain ridges, visible for miles from any point on the ramp. Really, really big.

 Gary & Louise


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