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Richard 's Story > Chapters > China Tour 1981 Beijing

The Amazing Friends...A Story of the Inside China of 1981 

Date Range: 05/15/1981 To 07/20/1981   Comments: 0 Views: 3456
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   On a very calm evening during a walk from the center of Beijing towards my residence at the Yang Jing Hotel, I paused to watch the lives of the native Chinese people during their evenings collaberations with friends and relatives. I filled a sketchbook with somewhat dramatic episodes and characters of this time. I always carried my sketchbook with me during my evening jaunts mostly because this was the most human part of the day. The bicycle traffic would die down and the rush hour pollution would giveway to a steady wave of traffic.
I was sitting on a bench stetching when a young fellow about my age appeared dressed in black and white. He stood there simply staring directly at me in somewhat a curious way. Then he moved forward and asked what I was doing-In English. "Why Im sketching!" I said in a pronounced English. He had never heard of this word and proceeded to watch from over my shoulder...."Oh yer verry good" he exclaimed. I thanked him and finished up my sketch. We then began to talk and made a friendship that was unique. Perhaps this story will seem to be unbelievable...but it is true.
Conversations grew to friendship. His name was Chow Bing, a graduating universtity student who needed lessons in English, and for an exchange he would be my personal guide in Beijing.
Every evening I would take a mile/two mile walk along the main boulevard towards the Forbidden Palace and return. I measured that it was just about 1.5 miles from the Forbidden Palace to Fushingmen St. and the Yangjing hotel.
It was May and the nights were warm and crowded with common people meandering or sitting along side the road playing Chinese checkers or talking to friends. (Im sure this has all changed since 1982. Many of the buildings at that time were older..and there was, even then, the idea that China was going to change in a very big way, and moderize rapidly in the coming years...and so it has...between 81 and 85 there had been so much change in Beijing that was almost remarkable...150% difference)
In Beijing in 1982 it was so different though. I made freinds that were interesting as well as honourable..outside the restrictions that were somehow laid by law: Foreigners were to be set a distance from the traditional Chinese culture, and this was enforced upon the Chinese people. It was not allowed for Chinese people to fraternize with Americans or foreigners as a general premise.
I made close in ties with my friends in Beijing through my new friend Chow Bing who would meet me during the evenings and design himself as "a guide" to get around the censors. He was an extremely clever young man with a tenacity that could be noted. Chow Bing organized his tours...and somehow managed to get in some of the most restricted places for foreign visitation acting as my guide. He had everything mapped out and planned. After several meetings he suggested I meet a special group of his friends who met at a "private club" somewhere in old Beijing. We were to go after nightfall and by foot..then by the subway and then off by foot in the area to the extreme right off the area where the Mao tomb was in the center of Old Beijing which was still intact.
(Chinese Friends Cont)

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