Having my photo taken with a Chinese Policeman

photo with the policeman

After staying two days in my noisy hotel, Michael has returned from his business trip from Saipan Island. Sunday morning, I returned from my morning walk he was standing in front of the hotel waiting for me.
His home just a short walk away but before I got a chance to unpack my bags we needed to pay a visit to the local police station.
Few tourists know about this: as a visitor not staying in a hotel, I have to report to the police and let them know where I will be staying.
On the back on the entry card to China, under important notice:
“Alien who do not lode at hotels, guesthouses or inns shall, within 24 hours (72 hours in rural areas) of entry, go through accommodation registration at local station”.
We had done this the last three times when I visit Michael so we knew what to prepare:
We brought our passports, his work permit, house lease and photocopies of our passports and my entry visa. I learn from past, police station do not equips with photocopier and often it is not easy to find a photocopy place near by so I had brought copies with me from Canada.
We also knew the police station closed during lunch time so we make sure to arrive afterward.
Luckily, there were only two people ahead of us, in on time I was registered and I can officially stay in Beijing!
As we were leaving the station, I stopped and ask Michael to take a photo of me in front of the station but before he could a uniform policeman was returning from his lunch break.
He looked at us, I explain to him we are Canadian and I just registered for my stay in Beijing. Without thinking, I asked if I could have a photo with him. A man nearby has been watching us, he good naturally push the surprised policeman next to me. We were all smiles and I had my photos with the policeman
I thanked and shake hand with him we happily went home.

Homeless at Beijing McDonald

McDondald breakfast
In recent years with Starbucks opening shops in China finding coffee in China has became lot easier. Since then, other coffee shops had follows which open everywhere. However, tea is still the preferred beverage here and coffee is more expensive here than in North America, a cup of coffee could cost $4, $5 or even more at some pricy coffee shops. (For that amount one can buys a good meal)
The China McDonald offers a lower price coffee compare to Starbucks for the one in need. The McCafé section is usually has no line up with eager staff to serve you
There are two McDonalds at the Wangfujing pedestrian mall; one is in a large shopping mall and the other one which is larger with two levels at a busy location and longer hours for business.
I went for the other one that morning. The breakfast combos are same as the ones in North American with a new twist: one can choose either Soya milk or coffee.
Even it was early in the morning but the place was busy with customers already.
After I got my meal, I went upstairs thinking it would be less crowed and allowed me the street view from above. However the intriguing view was inside and not far from where I was sitting: a number of young men were sleeping on benches; some completely lay down still wearing their shoes and some sitting up resting their heads on the table. They were cleanly dressed with new looking clothing some had a large backpack by their side.

homeless at McMonald

While eating I was also observing the other customers but no one seem to paying any attentions to them beside myself. One man, look to be in his early twenties slowly sit up from his bench, after rubbing his eyes then spit onto the floor in front of him.
A man nearby wearing government uniform didn’t pay attention to the man but keep reading from his phone. Meanwhile a group of young women had arrived and chatting with each other while putting on their makeup.
Finally, a uniform security came upstairs but instead of telling the sleeping men to leave, he merely looked around and went back downstairs without waking anyone.
Later, at other McDonald, I noticed men would also hangout there without ordering any food.

Cathedral Church in Beijing

st joseph church 1

Beijing is full of surprises: Early in the morning, I left the hotel in search for my morning coffee. No sooner after I turned the corner I was face to face to an old Catholic church! Western churches are not a common sight in China, especially not a historical one.
The St Joseph Church is commonly known as Wangfujing Church or Dongtang (the east Cathedral) is one of the four historic Catholic Churches in Beijing.
The original Church was finished in 1655 (At the time, the Jesuits were the only group of people from Europe given permission to reside in the capital city, on account of their insight into astronomy.) but was destroyed first by earthquake in 1720 then by fire about 90 years later.. The current church date back to 1904 now stands as the second oldest Cathedral church in Beijing.
The building is in the style of Romanesque revival architecture. The church was closed down during the Cultural Revolution and suffered damages until the end of the revolution in 1976.

st joseph church 2
Although it was still early in the morning when I walk by, still a few tourists were there taking photos already.
Later, I discovered during the day the church can be enter through a side door. One time, there was even a service going with a handful of followers however with my limited Mandarin I couldn’t make out the sermon.


The Chinese Pear Seller


the chinese pear sellerYesterday, I saw those Chinese pears on sale in Chinatown which remind me the pear seller I meet in Beijing, china:

  A couple of years ago, I was visiting my friend Michael in Beijing, One day, he suggested I should check out the market in the Hutong area. He walks by every morning on his way to work and thought I would enjoy going there and take some photos.

The market starts from early in the morning till 11am. It was just a few minutes walk from where he lived. His neighborhood is full of all the fancy stores, high-rises and restaurants. Not to mention all the American brands like Starbucks, McDonald and Pizza hut and if without the Chinese faces, it could be any American cities.  However the Hutong neighborhood with the gray color single story houses one has the feeling of walking into the centuries past.

At 9 am the market already in full swing. The sounds and the color were unlike anything I had experienced. Some sellers would call out what they had to offer, how fresh or tasty they were. The market was packed with sellers and shoppers.  The sellers had all their goods spread out on the ground. They were some of the freshest produces I seen and were plentiful.  There was live fishes, freshly butchered meat, fruits, vegetable and dry sea food. The sellers look like peasants from the countryside. They all had dark skins the result of working long day under the sun.  Most dressed in padded jackets for the morning chill.  Some brought their goods by bicycle carts; some in small motorized open trucks. The shoppers were equally interesting.  Most of the shoppers were seniors from the neighborhood.  Some came by foot but some came in bicycles. Many brought along their home made bamboo shopping carts. Some even brought their little dogs along.  The pampered pets would ride in the basket instead of walking. One even rides on owner’s walker!

Everyone took the shopping rather seriously, moving slowly from seller to seller to look for the best produce with the best deal. Some just left their shopping carts or bicycles at the middle of the road while they carefully examine the goods. An old lady was carefully balance her newly purchased large watermelons on her bicycle. She tied them with red string two on each side of the back and on each side of the handle bar.  Among this frenzy, I was able to move around freely and take photos without attracting any attentions.

Then I spotted the man with the pears He and his pears stood out among the other sellers: he has set up a red tent for his pears and displays them on a wooden cart. He has a hand written sign while most sellers don’t bother have one. They are the classic Chinese pears which is larger than the North American ones. They are pale yellow in color and size of a grape fruit under the morning sun they glow beautifully like jade carvings.  As I approach his stand I noticed he was the only one wore glasses, he proudly told me the pears are the West Mountain Province and they are very good. I smile and picked up three. When I hand it to him to be weighted but he took one away, smile warmly and said this one is not a good one and right way pick up another one and said “this is a good one”.  I thanked him and handed over the money.  He asked where I was from which was surprised me how he could tell I was not one of the locals. I told him I am from Canada and nodded and smile, “Oh Canada, very good country”. As I walk away and think about this honest seller. He seems different than the other seller. As soon as I got home I try one of the pears. It was very juicy, crunchy and sweet.

After my first trip to the open market, I made a point to go at least every second day to shop or take photos. The next time when I went, I saw him again When he saw me he seemed to recognize me and smile and greeted me “Ni Hao”. I brought more pears from him probably more than I should have.  However that was the last time I seen him. At my other visits, I looked out for him but he was nowhere in sight. Perhaps the pear season was over he went on to do something else.

watercolor on paper, 16’x24′