Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Going underground

We visited an unusual, and rather hard to find, tourist spot today, in the form of the Beijing underground city. Built in the 60s and 70s in a fit of paranoia over Russian invasion, the city was to be a shelter for the people of Beijing in case of war. We were taken around part of this supposedly city-wide complex by a not-so-talkative Chinese guide, who tore round at a fair old pace pointing out things like "this is a ventilation shaft so people can breathe" and "this tunnel goes all the way to Tianjin, but you can't go all the way down it these days". Many little tunnels and cubby-holes were labelled "ammunition store" or "old people's recreation area" - but they looked like any other room in the tunnels and we only had their word for it! I am pretty sure that the sign saying "silk factory" next to the obligatory underground tourist shop was a more recent addition and probably not installed during the peak of Mao's time in power. Still it was an interesting sight nonetheless.

There's an article worth reading on the BBC today.


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