Chinese Culture Club

Saturday, March 15, 2014
Beijing, Beijing, China
Some months ago when someone suggested we join the Chinese Culture Club I have visions of lots of Asians wearing makeup and singing about being a chameleon. I was wrong, the CCC (Chinese Culture Centre) arrange activities aimed at expats living in Beijing to give them a better understanding of the country they are living in. For some time now I have been reading their newsletters about forthcoming trips to all sorts of exotic places like Tibet and North Korea but the only one we could fit in during our stay was a walking tour around the Islamic area of Beijing.
It was great, primarily because the two guides, one from the CCC Feng Sheng, who was translator and Mr Wei who is connected to the Mosque were both so cheerful and enthusiastic . The most interesting aspect of the tour was Mr Wei's description of the problems of the Cultural Revolution when, as a child, he had to publicly denounce his teachers and the Imman who was taken away, hands ties behind his back, to be re-educated. The Mosque was closed for 10 years but has since been restored with help from the Chinese government.
That period apart, being a Muslim in Beijing has not been a problem, the Emperors gave the Muslim community a special dispensation and the Communist governments allow them to have a cemetery (everyone else is cremated) and don't seem to interfere, he was I think genuinely surprised when asked about discrimination - he didn't think there was any.

We had a walk round the old courtyard homes in the Muslim quarter and tried some street snacks from their stalls, some were tasty, others were very odd.

In the morning we struggled through the security to get into Tiananmen Square but spent most of the time people watching. We have cracked the metro system but still don't know how to buy multiple tickets so have to queue for every journey. We have eaten some strange food and should have practised our chop stick use before coming, a great deal of food seems to end up in our laps.

Off to the Great Wall tomorrow.
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