January 24, 2008

Will You Join Us in This Photo?

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Though the howling Beijing wind caused the temperature to consistently plummet into the single digits and below, it did not prevent this delegation of Sunnies from getting its 15 minutes of fame. At a number of tourist destinations, such as Tiananmen Square and the Summer Palace, the symphony of cell phone clicking in our direction could not go unnoticed. Sometimes the paparazzi in question would try and sneakily pass it off as a text message — but we quickly realized what was up.
Unlike in the summer months, you won’t find yourself drowning in a sweltering sea of tourists during the December and January holiday season. Beijingers told us that many tourists who brave the frigidity to visit the capital are typically from other provinces in China. In fact, many from the rural West have never seen Westerners until they visit densely populated Eastern cities like Beijing.
On a number of occasions, the picture-taking evolved into an all-out staged photo sesh. As we bundled together for warmth on The Great Wall of China and clung together to avoid flying to Mongolia, three tourists approached us, started to pose and requested us to take their picture. We politely obliged their request, but with a sheepish fervor, they gestured for us to join them in the frame. Who knew that having a blonde, a brunette and two redheads on the trip would attract so much excitement?