Hot Pot restaurant in tourist area of Beijing hosted by Emma
I hope you understand why I did not mention my trip in advance or while I was there, but an ounce of prevention seemed prudent since this can go out to everyone, if they want it. Except maybe in China. :-)
Yes there is still a reasonably heavy internet censuring, or at least heavy to us since we have so much access to information, but if not for that, you might not see much else unusual government involvement in these people's lives.
I expected uniforms everywhere, and got it, but not from the police or military. It seems that if you have job involved in working with directing people, you probably will have a uniform. From airport security to parking lot attendants, you get a uniform, many of which look to the unseasoned eye as a military presence.
During my stay of 10 days, I might (might) have seen three policemen and not sure if I ever saw any real military. There may have been some at the Forbidden City, since there were barracks for the guards to stay in, an exercise field for them to march and play sports, but I think they were really just museum guards, not military.
For this lack of presence, it was amazing that there was very few safety concerns for me or my interpreters who would work with me until the last bus & subway train and then have to travel about an 1.5 hours back to their home.
Based on my knowledge of our U.S. public transportation late at night, I was worried, so they always emailed when they got home and they were always fine. Of course most buses and subways in this city of over 20 million, stop between the hours of 10-11 PM. From then on it is taxi, ride a car, bike or walk.
That was another amazing thing to see, at least where I was staying. A vast majority of people were off the streets and restaurants closing down at 10:00 PM. Friday night was the same, but Saturday night seemed to last an hour longer.
I will have many more posts about the experience, but let me close by saying that if our respective governments would stop their "positioning" and just got out of the way, our our citizens, we would not have much trouble being friends. While some customs and business practices are different, we are all just living our lives.