Sunday, September 18, 2011

Beijing, Incense, and the Social Safety Net…

Yonghegang Temple (4)Day 2 in Beijing took me to the Yonghegang Temple, a fairly large complex that was full with multiple and ENORMOUS statues of the Buddha.

As I walked through, the thing that really hit me, that brought me back to 1997 when I lived in Japan and traveled around Asia was the smell…of incense.

Now, I Yonghegang Temple (1)happen to like the smell, so it works for me, but when I think of “sights, sounds, smells of Asia,” it is the smell of incense which I think connects me most with this continent.

One thing that I’ve noticed…at least in the areas where I’ve been which, admittedly, isn’t all that many, is how clean things are. I mean, some of them are tourist areas, but the subway is pretty darn immaculate.

Of course, with 1.3 billion people, you have a lot of labor to keep things organized.

One thing I did wonder about was, as the country grows is how does it provide for a social safety net for the millions(!) “left behind.”

On three consecutive Yonghegang Temple (2)subway rides, I saw (and gave money to) 3 different beggars who were in horrific shape. One had no legs and was crawling on the floor (I’d seen something like this in India). One was an amputee and blind. I don’t recall the 3rd at the moment.

IT was interesting (admittedly unscientific), but the guy crawling on the floor was the one who got money from almost everybody and the other 2 were ignored.

Just an observation.

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