The day the city stopped

Have you have ever seen a city of 22 million people come to a complete standstill? Me neither, until today…

With the military parade getting closer, we’ve seen more police on the streets, and more citizens in blue shirts with the red armbands standing on the corners. Apparently the latter are like a condo board on steroids, but the police are watching everyone like a hawk.

We decided to have a slow day today with all the site seeing we’ve done in the past few days (code for needing to stick to a budget). We slept in, the girls did some reading, and then we walked to WalMart (yes, the one and the same) to buy breakfast and other supplies. Claire needed to go to the bathroom and wanted to avoid the squats, so I left with her before we finished buying everything. A couple of loads of laundry later, we decided to venture out for the remaining supplies.

We’re staying in an apartment in the downtown central business district, so you would expect it to be filled with people at 3:00 in the afternoon. Nope. The shops on our side street had all closed, and the restaurants on the other side of Jianguo Road, which is a major thoroughfare, were empty.

We were a little nervous that WalMart had also closed, but thankfully the doors were still open. The security guard tapped his watch when we walked past, so we were lucky to get in.

Other shoppers were filling up their baskets with food, and suddenly the rush was on to find things we could eat in an apartment with only a microwave and no fridge, stove or potable water. Since the parade is Thursday, it won’t be until Friday that we can get more supplies (it’s Wednesday afternoon).

It all has a slightly apocalyptic feel to it. Our street is roped off and people can’t park anywhere near the apartment. There is hardly anyone about, and that is just not normal for Beijing!Deserted Beijing street

We’ve heard that Jianguo Road might be the access point for the 500 military vehicles heading to Tiananmen Square. We’ve also heard that citizens are not even supposed to look out their windows as they approach.

We might try the “dumb tourist” thing tomorrow to see if we can peek down our street towards the road. But I’m fully expecting a military presence to turn us around. I won’t even try to bring my camera!

So what do you do when cooped up in an apartment for 36 hours? Watch Netflix using the VPN and eat special munchies for the occasion: Lays seaweed and roast squid!Chinese Lays chips


8 Comments on “The day the city stopped

    • We really wanted them to taste good, but sadly they did not. Although Sophie said she didn’t mind them too much. I could eat the seaweed flavour, but the squid was a bit much. And definitely not worth the junk food quota for the day! 🙂

      – Heather

  1. I feel as if I was there with you, trembling with fear and thinking I will die of malnutrition :-))

    I hope you can see the parade. It is unique to see the “remnants” of this personal cult.

    Netflix over VPN? Is that not controlled by he internet police there?

    • Ha ha – you should see what we bought and you will surely know that we will likely die from malnutrition if we don’t get out of here tomorrow! 🙂 We are watching the parade on tv.

  2. My little buddies in jail for 36 hours? What to do? Eat munchies, bug each other, read books, watch T.V., etc. etc. Here it rained a bit yesterday, this morning it is sunny. Last night grandma Trish canned two huge salmon which a Lion friend caught in the Alberni Canal. Apparently
    the fish catch this summer was the greatest in memory. Nobody knows why. The fish refused to talk
    We love getting your neat messages. Very informative. Very loving..
    This morning we have Orlando and Edilia visiting from Port Alberni.
    Love to all four in China.
    Love from and g. ma. to the “gang of four”

  3. Hi Heather,

    You have a book in the works!! I absolutely love reading about your journey. What a fantastic experience the four of you are having. You girls will grow so much from the exciting experience. I wish you could have adopted me!

    Nothing new in Calgary … please keep writing and posting pics.

    Take care, be safe.


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