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The Third China Majiang Championship and Forum

October 29-31, 2005, Beijing, China

Tuesday was nothing to write home about. A bit hung over, I rode into downtown Beijing, saying goodbyes as the opportunity arose. Ensconced in my hotel (the Gloria Plaza), I was amazed by how smoggy the view was. There's a government building next door to the hotel.
Look at the color of the sun as it's setting.
I mean, the smog back home in Los Angeles is nothing compared to this!
The interchange is colorfully lit at night. I took a daytime shot of this view the next morning.
The traffic is very heavy on the main streets in Beijing.
The daytime view of that interchange that was so colorful the night before, viewed from my hotel.

There were two places I knew I wanted to see in Beijing this time. I'd already visited Forbidden City in 2003, and this time I wanted to see Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven (pictured on the cover of the program booklet for this year's tournament). I took a taxi from the hotel, and here I am at the entrance to the Temple of Heaven.
Once inside, I ran into one little snag: visiting foreign dignitaries came in a convoy of limousines, and we hoi polloi had to make way.
I was curious what country these folks were from.
There were military uniforms and suits. As I stood there in my sunglasses, scruffy beard, old clothes (so I wouldn't look rich, which I'm certainly not) and my vest from Hong Kong, I know I didn't look very Chinese. I locked eyes with one fellow from the entourage - I don't know what he thought of me (why he locked eyes with me). Maybe I looked like a foreign agent or something! I just nodded inscrutably. The entourage went in, and then the rest of us could finally enter the temple grounds.

Inside the walls, I found that there's a public park. And I was intrigued to learn of the variety of uses the Beijing citizenry has for their parks! Here we see a dance class in progress.
OK, I was just killing time taking pictures because the foreign dignitaries were impeding my progress. Everywhere they went, those of us behind them had to wait until the gatekeepers would let us follow after.
This cone-shaped roof hints at the big temple farther within.
The visiting foreigners continue their sightseeing, always one step ahead of me.
I have two choices - run ahead of them, or lag even farther behind.
So I checked out the park. People were engaged in all sorts of activities, in groups and as couples. This couple was playing slow catch. The man was just catching and returning, but the lady was using smoothly choreographed moves. I'd see more about this sport later. (I took a short little movie of this scene but my site doesn't need to host a bunch of movies.)
This group was practicing a dance routine to boombox accompaniment.
Back to the sightseeing. My ticket for the Temple of Heaven had several tear-off parts for the different enclosures within the temple grounds (all surrounded by park).
Check out the roof details.
Nice details at ground level too.
Finally, I'm getting close to the big pagoda...
And closer...
It's closed for restoration.
The main pagoda is surrounded by scaffolding.
I had to go around.

Here's a group of men concentrating deeply on a game of xiang qi (also called "Chinese Chess").
A lively game with playing cards. I observed folks playing this game in 2003 as well.

Rock garden, Beijing-style.
Mommy with little kids.

I wondered back towards the big pagoda to have my photo taken.
This moat no longer has water in it any more.
Mommy was posing her little boy on the sculpture (I was late getting my camera ready).
A display shows a slice of life from the past.
I went back out to the street to find a taxi. It had cost me 18 yuan to get to the park from the hotel (the taxi driver had used the meter). The first cabbie I talked to said he'd take me to the hotel for 30. I refused, and found a driver who used the meter instead.

Later that evening, my taxi passed by Forbidden City (and Tiananmen Square) on my way to a shopping adventure. I saw two flags along the way, and suddenly it hit me - the visiting dignitaries were from Russia.
My shopping excursion was to accomplish two goals:
1. I wanted to get that other music CD (the one May Hu had written down for me - traditional Chinese tunes, as played during the tournament);
2. A friend had emailed me a particular request -- he wanted me to bring back "weird candy."
I found a shopping center, and a Weird Candy store. Objective #2 accomplished. Then I went wandering, and found an underground mall. If you've seen an underground mall in Tokyo, Seoul, or Hong Kong, you've seen'em all. I found a music shop down there, but no luck. They didn't have that particular CD.
Since it's hard to tell from my camera's little LCD whether a photo has turned out well or not, I took a second photo. By the way, although I found three music shops here, not one of them had the CD I wanted.

Friday, October 28, 2005 - First Day in China
Saturday, October 29, 2005 - Tournament Day One
Sunday, October 30, 2005 - Tournament Day Two
Monday, October 31, 2005 - Last Tournament Day
Wednesday, November 2, 2005 - Sightseeing in Beijing
Thursday, November 3, 2005 - Last Beijing Outing

Copyright 2005 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.