that many of them never meet foreigners. They learn from B B(‘ broadcasts and from perpetually repeated English Language programmes. And they analyse our culture by watching programmes like "l‘he New Avengers‘ which was on five days a week while I was there.
I made many friends in Shenyang and was sorry to leave. Like I everywhere else in the country I I found the people very friendly. Back i in Beijing l luxuriated in the j European bread. peanut butter. and j choice of fizzy drinks. all supplied by | the Beijing Friendship Store.
September was just beginning. and ll was getting cooler. although I still managed to get heatstroke.
Beijing is old and heavenly. but it's becoming modern fast. Dallas-style hotels are sprouting up everywhere and it's virtually impossible to go for a walk without being asked to ‘change money". that is. to convert FEC (foreign exchange certificates) into Renminbi.
After a week I headed off for Edinburgh's twin city Xi’an. 'l‘here's a lot more to Xi‘an than the Terracotta Warriors (which are | actually called the Qin Pottery
Figures): the Banpo .\lttseunl. excavation site of one ofthe oldest villages known to man. is fascinating; the Dayna l’agoda. built in Al) 6-18 to presery e Buddhist scriptures brought from India. is a spectacular sight. But for me the only competition to the Warriors came from the ( irand Mosque and nearby markets. ’l‘he .‘ylosque is the work ofthe lltti Minority ys ho came from the West around Al) 7(ll l. l have to admit that the Warriors yy ere the highlight ofmy‘ journey. Individually they have little impact. but side by side. these lil'esize
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repltcas of real people erupt like a fii‘eyyoilsdisplay: unity brings them
.-l/t't'.\t'1‘/\'on/mrm f/‘tr'r't'tflflflll lnlt'rt'u/mm/ lfdirt iilionu.’ I’I'rigrurnnrt'. grime y/IXit'er/A'y on (‘rmi'i'nt/mriirv Storm/i ( u/ltue um." I’m'njv. m .Siltt'ny'une. lien/rig mm!
It can take about loui days to book
a rail ticket so I yyent back to Beijing a week early . and managed to see the filtn ‘ l'he last l.niperor'. Surprisingly. the audience found the ‘(tiltural Reyolution scene at the end
' restaurants expectyouto bring along yourown
Student ﬂights (departing London) to Beijing cost from 2550 return (contact Campus Travel. Hillhead Street and 90 John Street. Glasgow 041 357 0608 and 041 552 2867 or Edinburgh Travel Centre. Bristo Square. Edinburgh 031668 2167). Otherwise. the lowest return fare (open to all) is with Pakistan Airlines and costs from £456. Cheap flights also go to Hong Kong. and from there. the inexpensive rail network can take you to China. The Trans-Siberian railway route can cost as little as £50 single from Budapest to Beijing.
You need a visa. The China Travel Service at24 Cambridge Circus. London WC2 issues them.
What To Know Before You Go
Chinese currency: as a foreigner you will be given EEC (foreign exchange certificates) by the banks. The official currency is Renminbi (RMB) which cannot be used to pay bills in tourist shops. restaurants or hotels.
Phone calls: local calls are free. but long distance can be expensive. so always check before dialling.
Climate: Beijing can fall below zero between December and March. and rise over 100E between May and August. July and August tend to be the rainy months. lt‘sloo large a countryto generallse and you should research the areas you intend to visit.
Population: China has
overa billion people. Most of them live in rural areas and are at Han nationality. Over-population is China‘s biggest problem and you will see large billboards advocating birth control everywhere.
Tourist information: China International Travel Service. 2 Gianmen Dogndajie. Beijing. Tel: Beijing 757181. Services include help with hotel accommodation. guide- interpreter service. transport on arrival and departure. hiring taxis. buying or booking train. plane or sleamertickets. It's infinitely easier to travel in China on an official tour. which can be booked in any UK travel agent. but it is expensive and you won't meet the ‘real' Chinese.
Excellent maps of China. which are sold in the Ultfor
i £7.50. can be picked uplor E1 in most foreign language l bookshops.
' Where To Stay
Foreigners are strongly discouraged from living with Chinese citizens. and you will be expected to stay in hotels. Prices range from
50p to live to seven pounds
anight.Thelatterwillrenl you a comfortable room. which you will probably have to share. There are plenty of luxury hotels ilyou can afford them.
You will have no difficulty finding top quality restaurants in the major towns. Noodles.
i vegetablesand boiled
j tomatoes are standard fare.
In citiesthe cheapestwayto travel is by bus. Afew pence takes you from one side of Beijingtothe other. But don't expect to getaseat. Forlong distances it‘s usually cheaperbytrain.
In Beijing. don'tmiss
Emperor Puyi'slorbidden city (Gugong Palace)and Summer Palace. In Xi'an. the market nearthe Grand
Mosque sells excellent
souvenirs. The best pastime is to go to the parks at63m to watch thGTai Chi.
' Going Home
An airport tax of around £3 is expected at Capital Airport (Beijing).
Rememberto keep allot yourbankreccipts oryou mightnotbeallowedto convert yourFEC backinto sterling atthe Airport Bank. And make surethat anything you declared. such as a camera or a Walkman when you arrived. is handy in case customs wantto check that you haven't sold it. lfthey have been stolen orlost. getapolice statement.
China—ATravel Survival Kit. (Lonely Planet. 2nd edition £11.95). An essential loranyone going to China.
Fielding's 1989 Peoples Republic of China by Ruth LorMalloy (Hodderand Stoughlon £10.50). An in-depth look atChina.
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