• Day 9: Crowded Subways Day 10: Pet Markets and Football

    Day 9: Crowded Subways

    Sitting, standing, and squeezing to get around. Anyone visiting doesn't need much more than that, especially if your only plan is to stay within the city. Public transportation here is so wide and vast, that if you can figure out the bus and subway system, you just opened up a path to just about anywhere in Beijing.

    I only ever had one experience 'squeezing' into a subway. It was rush hour time, and it seemed as if everyone that needed to go north was doing just that. Through winding tunnels and escalators that brought you to and from the light, herds of workers were probably heading home, and traveling with a group of six during this time was no easy chore. When we had reached our platform, loose lines were formed near the doorways where the subway would stop. The brakes would screech, and a sweet "ding dong" sound would be made over a speaker with an announcement saying, "this is where you're at and the door is about to open," except when everyone is already heading north, no one wants to get off. So you push and squeeze and hope you get on that subway and not the next. In my case, it was push, squeeze, and as long as I could stay pressed up against that person at the doorway long enough for the door to close behind me, I could stop pushing and find some relief that the door had closed behind me, and I was not left behind.

    Day 10: Growing up, Pet Markets, and Football

    We spent the day exploring the streets and making our way to one of Anna's old residencies. There was a pet market on the way that Anna had mentioned, and we decided to walk through. An escalator takes you from the street into an underground marketplace that has shops selling dogs, cats, fish, fountains, tobacco, pipes, camping stuff, and much more. All lighting is artificial, and space is little in each store. You see that cages are piled with animals, and the conditions and health of many are not so good. Most were sleeping in their own fecies, with bugs crawling around them. Some cats look like they have infections of some sort. Later we came across pet squirrels and bunnies where one bunny was laying dead in its cage while the others continued running around it. Surrounding the cage of bunnies was the shop owner, and many other customers, all just ignoring the fact of a dead bunny, and instead admiring the squirrel on a leash. Then there is the question about the breeds. Do some get better treatment than others? The siamese cats we saw there were active and in good health, but maybe they were just part of a new lot of animals that were delivered recently.

    What happens to these animals I wish I could say. From the poor health and living conditions it seems like many will die, but my hope is that people purchase many of these animals and give them a home, a better life, and the love they deserve.

    I know it's hard to switch what's going on during the day right after seeing the animals, but bare with me here. We had left the animal shops and gone a canal by Anna's old apartment complex where she spent a lot of her time at growing up, and later we met up with the family to enjoy a game of football for anyone that wanted to play. And of course, good food was had in the evening. It might have been the air, or just that I was really hungry, but going a dinner without snapping tons of photos isn't all that bad, right? "Just enjoy it before it gets cold man."