I spent yesterday with some Chinese Buddhist friends visiting the temples at Ping Yuan. It was all very interesting but what was more interesting came from the fact that Ping Yuan sees very few foreigners*. For the first time in ages I became the subject of the staring squads again. I was a matter of great curiosity for everyone from small children to little old men and women. Many times people took my picture, either openly or surreptiously, sometimes getting others to take their pictures with me. It reached it's surreal pinnacle as I was waiting for the train to come back. My friends and I were taking some pictures of each other when a member of the station staff came over and said something in Chinese. I assumed that he was saying that we shouldn't take pictures there. Railway station, staff, indeed staff anywhere, sometimes get a bit annoyed when people take pictures.
I was wrong though, he was asking if we would mind posing for the station photographer in front of the sign so that they could take some pictures of the foreigner to include on the web site. So we dutifull posed while he took half a dozen pictures. If I ever find out the web site address, I'll let you know.
Ah, the perils of fame. Just can't escape the paparazzi.
(*I think the last one was when the same friends took my American colleague, Mike, for the end of Spring Break. I was out of the city at the time so I couldn't go.)
Questionable Sino-Mongolian toponymy
13 hours ago